Russia’s occupation cum annexation of Crimea is a tragedy no matter how you slice the salami tactics. One just wants to protest, boycott, DO something. But what? Well, like President Obama and the EU, we’re coming up a bit short on the list of feasible and effective sanctions. But here are a few things we recommend NOT doing.
Boycotting Vodka. Yes, Russia invented vodka (don’t tell the Poles). And they export a lot of it around the world, including to the US. But boycotting vodka, or even making the drastic personal sacrifice to drink only non-Russian vodka, is not going to be more than a drop in the proverbial vedro. What is more, the good Russian vodka you can buy in the US is made by private companies, and chances are they, like most of the Russian business world, is anti-conflict. So please oh please don’t pour vodka in the streets again, it just makes us cry.
Ritual Matryoshka Burning. Spring is coming, and I know that up here in Vermont we are itching for a nice big, warm bonfire (if we can find the fire pit beneath all the snow). And a fire fits right in with Russian Spring Traditions. But the matryoshki didn’t occupy Ukraine, so why punish them? Besides, if you torch them, the Ukrainian pysanki are going to be lonely on your Colorful Folkcrafts From Around the World shelf. Perhaps most importantly, we’re willing to bet those little mothers were not painted with eco-friendly paint, and you wouldn’t want to be breathing their flame-licked fumes. So step away from the nested dolls.
Posting Anti-Russian Tirades on Facebook. If we have to explain the futility and incivility of this, well...
Boycotting Russian Companies. As I pointed out in this space during the Snowden Affair, this is harder than it sounds. Unless you have a Gazprom pipe feeding the line into your basement, it’s pretty difficult to find a worthy boycottee. The world economy has just become so intertwined and complicated – as Obama et al are discovering – that any economic sanction aimed at Russia has as much chance of exploding in one’s face as it does of hitting the target. Better bet: buy anything Ukrainian you can get your hands on. Zubrowka anyone?
Boycotting the NHL. Ok, sure, there are loads of Russians in the NHL, but, like the matryoshki, they didn’t occupy Ukraine either. Besides, the US and Canada both beat the Russian team in the Olympics, so isn’t that punishment enough?
Cancelling Your Trip to Russia. Bad idea. Traveling in Russia will give you the opportunity to meet Russians, discuss this and other issues with them, and basically become better informed on this, something you can share with others when you return. In fact, perhaps the current situation in Crimea will cause NBC to carry more of the Paralympics in Sochi. One can only hope. Those athletes deserve the exposure!
Cancelling Your Russian Life Subscription. Now wait just a gosh darn minute! Is it our name? Did that confuse you? If so, we hasten to remind you that the word “Russian” in our title is descriptive of our content, not our allegiances or origins. In fact, our [American owned] magazine has zero connection with the Russian government, and we rarely agree with what the Russian government gets up to before, during or after hours. So cancelling Russian Life because you disagree with the Russian government’s actions would be like cancelling your TIME subscription because you loathe Congress. If anything, more people need to be reading more about Russia, not less. But then you knew I’d end up there, didn’t you?