Thursday, April 03, 2014

Those that live by the Sword

A whistle-stop trip back to Scotland has somewhat placed into context the crisis that Vladimir Putin has unleashed upon Europe and the world. 

As military units are hurriedly scrambled into position in NATO member states, it becomes clear that Russia is merely waiting in order to unleash further aggression on Ukraine. Whether that comes in a few days, a few weeks or even a few months, the idea of a free and democratic Ukraine is as repellent to Putin as a free and democratic Russia. The crushing of all free media, all opposition points of view and even the slightest dissent in Russia has proceeded, it is now all too clear that Putin's contempt for freedom is absolute. He is openly dismissive of all Western democratic values which, in an eerie echo of Fascism, he regards as "decadent".

Like Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, he has turned his tyranny abroad as well as at home. His unprovoked aggression against Ukraine breaks all treaties and all the norms of international law. Across the entire planet, it is clear that Russia is now a pariah state. Putin is a barbarian who rules a criminal regime. There can be no compromise with him, no deals that he will honour, no respect that he will give us. He is an outright enemy of democracy, tolerance and freedom.

Yet this Adolf Hitler tribute act is in many ways a pale parody of Fascism. For example, Hitler had great power allies: Mussolini's Italy and Japan in the Pact of Steel and more dangerously even Stalin in the Nazi-Soviet pact. Putin has Belarus, Armenia, Venezuela, Bolivia, North Korea, Sudan, Nicaragua, Cuba, Syria and Zimbabwe- all even more poor, corrupt and brutal than Russia itself. 

The great Russian hope of China has stayed studiously neutral, while nonetheless making very public gestures to support the system of international law which has helped them trade their way to riches and which Putin has so savagely trashed.

Now it is clear that the situation in Crimea itself grows ever more unstable as anger grows over the wholesale theft that the Russian occupiers have engaged in. The Crimean Tatars loathe Russia and are preparing a determined resistance. The failure of Russian agents provocateurs in Eastern Ukraine is growing more embarrassing.

More to the point, global disgust and anger at Russian intransigent arrogance has left investors rushing for the exit and this, more than the relatively weak sanctions imposed so far, is ripping the heart out of the Russian economy. Russia has no rule of law- inside or outside its borders- and this renders all deals, not merely diplomatic ones, utterly worthless.

The investment gap for 2014, which already looked quite wide, now looks unbridgeable, and the consequence for this and subsequent years will be a deep recession. Who would invest in Russia now? It offers only a collapsing infrastructure, lousy demographics, no investor protection, no growth, and industrial scale crime. The supposed assets have all been stolen by Putin and his henchmen.

I have often said that Vladimir Putin has recreated Czarism: "Autocracy, mitigated by assassination". Now the warped personality of the Russian leader is set to put his country into a very dark place. I do not know if Russia can survive the authoritarian criminality of late Putinism. Only a moral renewal like Germany after 1946, or South Africa after 1989 can even avert the disaster that Putin is unleashing on his country. 

Until the Russian people can recover the right to rule themselves, the rest of the Planet has a right -indeed a duty- to defend itself. Even in Ukraine, which seems so defenceless now, there is a determination to leave free lives- and that is a virus that will ultimately infect Russia and destroy the criminals in the Kremlin. 

In the end it is all about Freedom. The Putin regime is an enemy of Freedom and must be resisted until that regime is gone and a freer wind blows in Moscow. 

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