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The Daily Vertical: The Financial Nuclear Option (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

At the recent Globsec global security forum in Bratislava, veteran Kremlin-watcher Edward Lucas presented an intriguing outside-the-box idea.

He proposed that the West hold what he called "snap financial exercises."

Lucas suggested forming what he called "a transatlantic group of financial regulators, spooks, cops, and prosecutors" to work out a scenario of how the West could quickly freeze Russian assets and shut Moscow out of the global economy in the event of a security emergency.

"Simply holding such exercises and leaking a few details would signal to Russia that we are serious about deterrence," he wrote on Facebook.

I think Edward is on to something here for a couple reasons.

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First, and most obviously, such a strategy plays to the West's strength -- its total hegemony over international finance -- and exploits Russia's biggest vulnerability.

But beyond deterring more military adventurism, the idea is important for a deeper reason as well.

And that is because the nonkinetic threat from Russia is just as deadly as the kinetic threat.

Moscow's weaponization of globalization -- its willingness and ability to infiltrate the West's transparent institutions and turn them against us -- is a long-term threat that needs to be addressed.

Russia's insidious infiltration of the West's banks is as dangerous as Moscow's menacing posturing with its tanks.

And containing this threat is just as important as creating military tripwires with NATO troop rotations in the Baltic states.

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