Vladimir Putin has spent the past three decades building himself up as the undisputed strongman of the Russian Federation. Rising through the KGB ranks and becoming Boris Yeltsin’s successor, Putin consolidated his hold over the vast swaths of Russia through hardline measures, such as war, assassinations, and intimidation tactics.

Perhaps using overly diplomatic measures towards the autocrat or fear of his strongman aura, the West gave Putin the green light to murder with impunity with little consequences until 2022. Even during the ongoing war in Ukraine, Western heads of state have hesitated on military aid Ukraine needs to win the war, such as Army Tactical Missile (ATACMS) and F-16s, over fears of Putin’s “red lines.”

Reluctance has played into the hands of one of the world’s most dangerous kleptocrats, who has used the fear of nuclear war and energy blackmail to receive anything he wants. By appeasing the Kremlin strongman, we make this world more cataclysmic than stable.