Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunshine on a rainy day

I have been exceptionally busy here in Tallinn, so inevitably blogging has been sparse. Indeed I missed all of the excitement on this very blog. I think it speaks volumes about what people think of Peter Hain, that even the rather tired joke about him on these pages has received such wide currency!

The fact is that whatever happens now, Peter Hain is a politician who is well passed his sell-by date.

In fact the entire government have that slightly stale smell about them. Even David Milliband our kid foreign secretary does not look fresh. Indeed his absence of gravitas is so extreme that it is practically comic.

The ongoing crisis between the UK and Russia is watched with considerable interest in Estonia, where they have all too much experience of the crude and rather brutal methods that the current mob of crooks in the Kremlin have used as their foreign policy. I met with Mart Laar, the former Prime Minister, yesterday and exchanged thoughts about the problems of Russia. While Edward Lucas in is polemical and passionate book "The New Cold War" points the finger at Russian strength, both Mart and myself are equally concerned about their weakness. For example, despite the large inflows to Russia as the result of the high prices of oil, gas and other commodities, the fact is that the money seems to be leaving the country just as rapidly. Large parts of the infrastructure are in a critical condition. The electricity grid, in particular could have a total breakdown, were winter temperatures to fall towards their seasonal average, as opposed to the unseasonably warm period that we are facing now. If the grid collapsed it could take weeks or even months to bring the system back up to full operation. Sub stations, cables and generators are all on a knife edge, and yet the urgent investment that is needed has not taken place.

Meanwhile, Mr. Putin´s enemies reveal that his personal fortune is over 4o billion Euros, and white elephant projects like Nord Stream are maintained as methods of pressure on foreign powers.

There is no gas to send through the Nord Stream pipeline.

In the face of such bone headed and brutal stupidity, the timorous wrist slapping of our boyish foreign secretary just looks absurd.

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