ANOTHER VIEWPOINT: Indiana effort to sanction Russia must go further

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The Republic

Gov. Eric Holcomb on Monday signed an executive order that took a first step toward what effectively are sanctions against Russia by the state of Indiana. The governor was right to take this step, and we applaud him for it, but as a state, we must go further.

Holcomb was correct to say Hoosiers stand with the Ukrainian people. He was right when he said Russia’s invasion and war against the Ukrainian people and their sovereign nation was unprovoked, and that Russian President Vladimir Putin must be held accountable. Putin’s war of choice continues to slaughter innocent men, women and children, destabilizing Europe and the rest of the world.

On behalf of the people of Indiana, the governor ordered these steps, among others:

  • A review of all state contracts that involve Russian-owned or Russian-affiliated companies.
  • An evaluation of investments into state employees’ retirement accounts that may involve the Russian ruble, Russian-owned and Russian-affiliated companies. Findings are to be reported to the governor’s office.
  • Requesting that public colleges and universities report all Russian funding received for programs, research and grants. Findings are to be reported to the governor’s office.
  • Encouraging Hoosier businesses and companies in Indiana to evaluate their future business relationship with Russia.

Executive orders are by their nature limited, but Holcomb through his bully pulpit could have, and should have, signaled that the goal is to ensure that not a penny of Hoosier tax dollars going forward will support the corrupt order in Moscow.

We understand contracts cannot be undone with the snap of a finger, but they can be suspended. Any balances owing can be withheld. Any future work can be halted. Any state employee retirement investments in known Russian-owned or -affiliated businesses can be reinvested elsewhere with a few mouse clicks.

This is not a difficult decision. The Ukrainian people are in danger of being crushed by a rogue Russia. The Ukrainian president correctly calls Russia a terrorist state for their barbaric aggression that has targeted civilians. Ukrainians are waging a heroic resistance that, if supported by democratic and freedom-loving nations, may herald the end of dictators in the 21st century. Their cause is just. Their will is admirable.

Their young nation’s unity in defiance for the love of freedom is noble, heartening and breathtaking.

Indiana should go all-in to support the brave Ukrainian resistance. They are neither defeated nor defeatist. When asked some variation of whether they can withstand the Russian onslaught and survive as a people and a nation, Ukrainians commonly respond, “We have no choice.”

Nor do we. Indiana must resolve, as quickly as is feasible, to cut off every Hoosier tax dollars from any investment connected to Russia, Putin and his corrupt oligarchs.

Likewise, businesses and organizations in Indiana that have financial connections to those in Russia must consider the present as well as the future. Is doing business with a nation plausibly considered a terror state in their best interests?

There may be a little pain for some businesses and organizations in halting their dealings with Russian entities. There is no question, however, that it’s the right thing to do.