By Peter Mihalick
12:12 AM PT – Monday, September 12, 2022
As the war in Ukraine drags on with no end in sight, now the United States must expand sanctions to companies attempting to play both sides of the fight. Any company which participates in commerce with Russia should face severe, and drastic, consequences. The least of which ought to be the Pentagon barring any company doing business in Russia from receiving defense contracts.
Recent news indicates Ukrainian forces are realizing success in a counteroffensive – pushing Russia out of some captured territory. Reuters reported on September 9, 2022, “Ukrainian forces were seizing an expanding area of previously Russian-held territory in the east in a “very sharp and rapid” advance, a Russian-installed regional official said on Friday, in a breakthrough that may mark a turning point in the war.” When the tides seem to be turning in the direction of freedom, it may be time to double down on sanctions – especially when it comes to the suppliers of the U.S. military.
Making an example out of the European aerospace conglomerate Airbus would be a sure-fire to show the Pentagon means business. As reported in the Wall Street Journal in June, Airbus “is still importing hefty amounts of titanium from one of” Russia’s biggest exporters and, furthermore, Airbus has pressured the E.U. “to hold off imposing sanctions on the metal, which is used to manufacture critical components of its aircraft.” These overt and damaging actions should result in the Pentagon blacklisting Airbus to send a message to other companies and nations that if you conduct commerce with Russia, there will be stark consequences.
National security is at risk when the Pentagon contracts with companies with suspect loyalty and compromised principles. That is why the Pentagon should favor American companies over foreign ones – because domestic companies would not be so bold as to tell the U.S. on how to conduct foreign diplomacy or impose sanctions while at the same time demanding defense contracts.
Maybe contractors should offer to sign a pledge of loyalty to ensure they are not supplying both sides of a potential conflict and assisting competing nations. It makes no sense that strategic sanctions on Russia are being circumvented by a company who wishes to win a contract to provide aircraft for the U.S. Air Force. We may see a day in the near future when Airbus is providing aircraft to both sides of a war. At a minimum, it is time to ban Airbus to send a message to the world that the United States is fully committed to the crippling sanctions regime on Russia.
The Pentagon should not be merely looking for contractors which provide a necessary service or product, but also support the foreign policy of the U.S. government. Companies should not feel confident in ignoring U.S. policy while getting paid with American tax dollars. This seems like common sense, yet Airbus has shown hubris when on this issue. Back in April, and as reported by Bloomberg, “Airbus defended its decision to keep importing Russian titanium, contending sanctions would hurt aerospace manufacturers who depend on the lightweight metal and wouldn’t deter Vladimir Putin after his invasion of Ukraine.” The CEO for Airbus, Guillaume Faury, made the case at Airbus’ annual general meeting that titanium should not be part of any sanction regime.
The bottom line is the Pentagon should feel free to contract with foreign providers when there is not a domestic source or find a sufficient American made alternative. At the very least, that foreign company should not threaten the national security interests of the United States. If such a company ignores sanctions, and actively opposes and lobbies against them, they should be kicked to the curb for all future contracting by the Pentagon until they get with the program.
Peter Mihalick is former legislative director and counsel to former Reps. Barbara Comstock, Virginia Republican, and Rodney Blum, Iowa Republican.
(Views expressed by guest commentators may not reflect the views of OAN or its affiliates.)