Skip to main content

It is not yet over in Ukraine

The election of a new president in Ukraine is not the end of the crisis, but it does mark a point of change, and hopefully of improvement. The seizure of Crimea by Russia- in contravention of all international law and all promises given- has jolted the security position of NATO as almost nothing else could. Russia now insists that anywhere where the Russian or Soviet flag once flew may be a legitimate claim for Moscow. That in principle could mean Germany or Alaska. In practice it is still a threat to NATO, since the Kremlin claims thee right of intervention, whether or not any local Russian population survives, and regardless of that population supporting Russian intervention or not. Certainly it seems pretty clear that the Russian speaking population of the Donbass does not support the attempt by paramilitaries to transfer their home to Russian control. Nevertheless the Kremlin continues to seek a way to either control the Donbass directly or render it so unstable as to be beyond the control of the democratic government in Kyiv. 

Of course it is said that as Russian troops are withdrawn from the border, that they are seeking to deescalate the crisis. That, however remains to be seen, and the large number of mercenaries that are crossing the border to take up positions in Luhansk and Donetsk suggests simply a change of tactics, not a change of approach. The fact is that almost every public position taken by the Kremlin has ended up being denied by the facts. The credibility of Russia has been totally undermined by the simple lies told by their President.

In the end we have to note that Putin also cheated his way to the Presidency of his own country- with clear evidence of widespread voter fraud. He has led the "party of thieves and crooks" to vast ill gotten wealth- on a scale to make even Yanukovych blush. The regime does not even obey its own laws and the rights of individual citizens mean nothing compared to the rights of those connected to the regime. The rule of Vladimir Putin has ended free speech and on virtually every objective measure Russia can not be called a free country. The contempt for international law is simply another facet of the nature of the regime.

The point is that a democratic Ukraine is very clearly not in the interests of undemocratic Russia, and the seizure of Crimea and the attempted seizure of the Donbass is a pure play of Russian chauvinism. Some, especially those in London or Zurich who benefit from Russian funds flow or Paris, who benefit from Russian arms purchases will try either to downplay the actions of the Kremlin or to baldly state there is little that we can do. In fact such self interested twaddle is dangerous: the risks involved in not confronting the Russian threat until it is too late is much higher than recognizing and responding to the criminal regime in Moscow now. So unless the Russia takes actions to cool the situation in the Donbass immediately, then sanctions should not be abandoned in any way. In fact they should be increased. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Cicero ReDux

By Special Request of Baroness Scott and Mark Valladares... Cicero's Songs returns: bigger, longer and uncut.
October 1st marked the half way point of the Estonian Presidency of the European Union.  Perhaps for many people such an anniversary is of passing interest at best.  Yet the conduct of the Estonian Presidency is reinforcing just how forward looking and innovative the most northerly of the Baltic States has become.
Estonia is a country that wants to live in the future, and with its openness and innovation, that future seems a lot closer than almost anywhere else in Europe
It is not that Estonia does not “do” the past: the picturesque cobbled streets of old Tallinn have tourist crowds a-plenty enjoying the mediaeval architecture in an Indian summer of sunshine and blue skies.  The real point is that Estonia refuses to be a prisoner of its past. Lennart Meri, Estonia’s President in the 1990s- who spent years of his childhood in Siberia- once told me that the country had to conc…

The American National nightmare becomes a global nightmare

It is a basic contention of this blog that Donald J Trump is not fit for office.

A crooked real estate developer with a dubious past and highly questionable finances. he has systematically lied his way into financial or other advantage. His personal qualities include vulgarity, sexual assault allegations and fraudulent statements on almost every subject. 

He lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes.

He has, of course, been under criminal investigation practically since before he took the oath of office. The indictment of some of closest advisers is just the beginning. His track record suggests that in due course there is no action he will not take, whether illegal or unconstitutional in order to derail his own inevitable impeachment and the indictments that must surely follow the successful investigation of Robert Mueller into his connections with Russia.

However, all of that is a matter for the American people. 

It is also a matter for the American people that Trump is cheating…

In praise of off-shore tax havens

The last few years has seen a spate of "scandals" about the use of off-shore tax havens. The hacking and subsequent leaking of data about who does and does not hold assets in off-shore jurisdictions has become an old perennial in the British press, rather like the "COLD weather happens in winter and QUITE HOT weather happens in summer", whose alarmist capital letter laced headlines are such a lazy part of contemporary "journalism". 

The increasing sophistication of the hackers, whether Russian-inspired or not, has resulted in a steady trickle of information becoming a torrent. After the relatively filleted release of data in the so-called "Panama Papers", the data release of the "Paradise Papers" is even larger.  Of course, just natural curiosity dictates that the off-shore ownership, or even just "ownership", of assets is of general public interest.  Celebrities, from the Royal family to the cast of Mrs Brown's Boys, are …