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Larry Summers: Russia should pay for Ukraine
Larry Summers: Russia should pay for Ukraine | GZERO World

Larry Summers: Russia should pay for Ukraine

On GZERO World, former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers proposes a controversial solution to help rebuild Ukraine: seize frozen Russian assets and give them to Ukraine.

Despite some concerns about the legality of this approach and the potential for similar measures to be used against other countries, Summers argues that Russia's moral debt to Ukraine justifies such a move and that it would be a more effective means of support than relying on American taxpayers.

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Vladimir Putin

Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images.

A cornered Putin ups the ante in Ukraine

The war is not going well for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

And that’s an understatement.

Since launching an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24, his military has performed abysmally, failing to capture Kyiv, overthrow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, hold onto Kharkiv, and control the entire Donetsk. His economy has been forcefully and permanently cut off from a united West, turned into a glorified gas station for China and the developing world. His country has become isolated on the global stage, shunned not just by the United States and Europe but increasingly even by friendly countries like India, China, and Kazakhstan, which resent the war’s impact on global food and energy prices and would like to see stability restored.

Last week, after Ukraine’s armed forces managed to successfully evict the Russian invaders from the northeastern region of Kharkiv in a stunning counteroffensive, I wrote that Putin was running out of good options to turn the tide of the war in his favor. This increased the odds of a Ukrainian victory but it also made the war more dangerous, because a cornered Putin would be more likely to escalate.

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Russia-Ukraine crisis: What you need to know

Russia-Ukraine crisis: What you need to know

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 24 UPDATE: Russia launched a full-scale military assault and invasion of Ukraine, with troops crossing from multiple directions and explosions and fighting in multiple cities, including Kyiv. Read my latest take and subscribe to GZERO World with Ian Bremmer to get the latest updates on the war.


  • The heads of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic formally asked Russia for military assistance to "help beat back the aggression of the Ukrainian armed forces."
  • The United States warned Ukraine of a full-scale Russian invasion in the next 48 hours. According to the Pentagon, Russian troops around Ukraine are now “at a state of readiness where they could attack at any time,” and additional forces are mobilizing into the occupied Donbas region.
  • Australia, Japan, and Canada joined the US, the UK, and the EU in sanctioning Russia. Brussels imposed new sanctions on Putin’s inner circle, while Washington sanctioned the company building Nord Stream 2 and threatened to ban exports of American technology to Russia in the event of further escalation.
  • Ukrainian government and bank websites were hit by a new mass cyberattack.
  • Ukraine called up reservists to active duty, declared a 30-day nationwide state of emergency, and urged its citizens to leave Russia “immediately.”.
  • Russia began evacuating its diplomats from Ukraine.
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