The generosity and compassion of Long Islanders, local governments, and institutions continues as they rush to donate cash and supplies to the victims of a senseless and deadly attack by Russia on Ukraine. That nation's military and civilians have responded with a resistance of unexpectedly heroic intensity and endurance that is stirring souls and filling hearts.
But giving is not the only way Americans are being asked to dig deep to thwart Russian President Vladimir Putin’s imperial dreams of restoring the Russian Empire. Drivers are already struggling to pay more at the pump and that may worsen in the coming days and weeks, which will be considered a tough sacrifice and not a charitable contribution.
And yet, as the devastating human toll mounts, that is almost certainly the right sacrifice for us to make — for the people of Ukraine and, ultimately, the democratic world order.
The price of crude oil is up about 100% over the price a year ago. The national average price of gasoline reached $4.104 per gallon Monday, setting a record, and prices are higher on Long Island. Even the inflation-adjusted all-time high of $5.35 could be threatened. The uncertain times have shaken financial markets worldwide but with smart choices by the United States and its allies, we can ride out the economic turmoil.
The Biden administration is considering executive action banning imports of Russian oil, and while that represents only about 5% of our imports, it will sting. Recent polling, however, shows public support in the U.S. for these moves, although that support drops some if we have to pay more money to fill our tanks.
President Joe Biden, if he follows through on these tough measures, must vividly connect the need for this action with the importance of stopping Russian aggression and the possibility of a humanitarian crisis destabilizing Europe. Higher energy prices will most hurt those who are the most economically vulnerable; if possible, Washington should seek ways to mitigate the impact.
Meanwhile, Congress is on a bipartisan path to ban oil and to allow the Biden administration to place tariffs on other energy products. The White House refuses to say whether it would sign the bill. Biden should not only ban the oil but enact financial sanctions on all Russian oil transactions that so far are exempt from existing penalties. Such moves would devastate the Russian economy and are perhaps the quickest way to undermine Putin.
At the same time, Congress must move forward on Biden’s request for $10 billion in aid for Ukraine. Relief agencies can assist refugees and donations of diapers and toiletries can ease their discomfort, but only significant and generous aid can assist with Ukraine's defense and help rebuild its destroyed infrastructure.
Providing humanitarian aid is a blessing. Saving Ukraine is a greater one.
MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.