Americans across the political spectrum say they stand with Ukraine in its brave resistance against an all-out Russian invasion.

A Washington Post-ABC poll found 67% support for economic sanctions against Russia, with a level of bipartisan support we rarely see in our polarized politics these days.

President Biden has worked with European allies to impose strict sanctions aimed at crippling the Russian economy. At home, Republicans who normally oppose anything done by the Democratic administration say they support the sanctions, but they try to outdo Biden by claiming that they would be even tougher.

On the state level, we are seeing this in action by former Gov. Paul LePage, the likely Republican gubernatorial nominee, who put out a series of statements over the weekend demanding that Gov. Mills take immediate executive action to ban the sale of Russian vodka through the state-owned liquor distribution business.

On Monday, Mills put out a statement recommending that the state liquor board stop new imports of two brands of vodka made in Russia.

It’s a symbolic move that could make some Mainers feel good about their support for Ukraine, but it also reflects a poor understanding about the nature of war and the kind of real sacrifices people as far away from Russia as Maine could have to make before this one is over.

No U.S. troops are fighting in Ukraine, but that does not mean we are not engaged in this war. The U.S.-led sanction regime involving the world’s biggest economies including the European Union, Great Britain and Japan are designed to cripple Russia economically without putting the whole world into a recession. This kind of economic warfare hasn’t been tried on this scale, and no one knows for sure what the consequences will be.

There were already some signs Monday that the sanctions have some bite. The value of the Russian ruble against the dollar dropped 30%. Some foreign investment deals came to abrupt ends, including a gas pipeline that would have sent Russian gas to Germany.  We’ve seen reports of runs on banks and ATMs as Russian citizens rushed to get their money before a financial collapse.

If this continues, Russia could experience hyperinflation, bankruptcies, mass unemployment and the flight of people and capital. That might change Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mind about the wisdom of invading Ukraine, but he could also choose to retaliate and roll out tactics that he has so far held in reserve.

In Ukraine, that could be shelling of civilian populations, like the devastating artillery attacks on the Syrian city of Aleppo in 2016. In the United States, it could mean cyberattacks on our power grid, financial system or supply-chain logistics designed to bring some of the economic pain to our door. The invasion and sanctions have already led to a spike in oil prices internationally, which will boost inflation and slow economies worldwide, especially if this conflict is not resolved quickly.

Standing with Ukraine will not be as easy as boycotting Russian vodka, which is not even the most popular vodka in Maine, let alone the most popular spirit.

Standing with Ukraine requires us to show the same kind of solidarity, both internationally and at home, that we have seen in the days since the invasion.

If LePage and other Republicans really want to send a message that would scare Putin, they should let him know that despite our political differences, Democrats and Republicans oppose this naked aggression and will not dissolve into partisan infighting the minute prices go up at the grocery store or the gas pump.

Reprinted from The Portland Press Herald.

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