Why sanctions?

What is going on here?

Russia has not “invaded” anywhere. Nor acted “aggressively”.

The situation in Ukraine can be analysed. In brief; the West and Russia have been competing for influence in post-Soviet Ukraine. Russia used diplomacy; a loan and an agreement with an elected President. The West used the usual underhand methods. A first-wave of NGO infiltration

Detached from reality

Mr David Cameron the British Prime Minister is reported today as saying:

Russia has sought to annex Crimea. This is a flagrant breach of international law and something we will not recognise. This behaviour belongs to the Europe of the last century not this one. It cannot be ignored or we risk more serious problems in the future.

So it was very important that the European democracies represented here should send a strong and united message that Russia should face further consequences, and that is what we have done.

Lets review the recent events.

1. The elected President of Ukraine decides not to sign a trade association deal with the EU

2. He decides to accept a loan from Russia.

3. Protests break out on the streets of the Ukrainian capital by Ukrainians who see their future as being part of the EU

4. Senior officials and politicians from the West visit these protesters in Kiev, making clear their support

5. The protests turn increasingly violent. All over Ukraine government administrative buildings are seized.

6. A day after a compromise deal is signed between the elected President and the rioters, brokered by 3 EU countries, the rioters finally force the elected President from office and seize power. They break the terms of the agreement. Mr William Hague, the Foreign Secretary of Britain, merely says “events have moved on” when asked about what happened to this agreement.

7. There is incontestable evidence of the links between what the Western press immediately started to call the “new government” in Kiev and some rather questionable extreme nationalist elements.

8. The “new government” immediately rescinded a law allowing Russian to be used as the language of official business in Ukraine. (True. The “new President” didn’t sign it into law. But the mood expressed is clear).

9. The elected regional assembly in Crimea passed a resolution calling for Crimea to join Russia and organised a referendum. Contrary to some reports in the Western press, which echoed claims made by the “new government” in Kiev, about a Russian “invasion” no invasion took place. At most a few Russian soldiers who were in the peninsular legally provided security at key points before self-defence units were organised. (Though even this has not been conclusively proved by the media). Russian forces may have also been involved in limited actions containing Ukrainian military forces present on the peninsular.

Putting Putin on the naughty step isn’t going to work

As the Russian Foreign Ministry has pointed out the language of sanctions is an uncivilised way to settle disputes between nations.

A lot of the language coming from people like US Secretary of State John Kerry sounds like fifties parents haranguing a naughty child. It seems unlikely that Mr Putin, a dan grade in Judo, is going to be controlled like this. Russia is not Panama.

Unfortunately a lot of Western politicians simply lack the maturity to deal with international relations. They act like school prefects ticking off an errant junior, rather than statesmen.   Like school-prefects they are acting for a power behind them. School-prefects act on behalf of the head-master and the governing body. Western politicians act on behalf of the markets and the corporations. The Russian leadership (for now) can actually determine their own policy. This is why their actions are (in the main) rational. Western politicians are not able to think or speak for themselves.  You  rise to the top in the West not by your ability to think but by your ability to be subservient to power. I just don’t know if the Russians understand this. There are no serious “partners for negotiation” in the West because all the Western politicians just do what the markets require. There is no rationality about it. If the West was really, seriously, to negotiate here the whole question of how policy is determined in the West would come to light.  In the West policy  is driven by the markets. Not by the politicians. They just serve power and the markets. When they tell off Putin they are telling him off for not obeying the will of the markets, as they do. (This is why it is self-evident to them that they are ‘right’).

If Russia can achieve a diplomatic settlement in Ukraine it would be a tremendous achievement. It would detach Western politicians to some extent from subservience to the markets.

The language of sanctions though has a secondary purpose. It is to try to convince their own publics that Russia really is “naughty” or “out-of-step”. It is part of the propaganda war which has accompanied the West’s seizure of Ukraine. On behalf of the markets. (Sorry. ‘Freedom’).


The cold-war (II)

The second cold-war has in fact been underway for some time as the US plants it missile-shield all round Russia and Russia develops new generations of fighter-planes and missiles with increased manoeuvre and evasion capabilities.

In the last few days the NATO Secretary General has called on member countries to increase spending.