Wither the Merkel alliance?

 

A few days ago we read of the strong relationship between Germany and the UK. Mrs Merkel was feted on her arrival here, and given the “royal” treatment to show her importance to us.  I wrote then that Mrs Merkel was never going to offer the UK a good deal prior to an election and without any threat of withdrawal if we are not offered  a sensible new set of arrangements. She was bound to wait to see what happens, and heard from Mr Miliband and Mr Clegg that they do not want either a referendum or a new relationship with the EU. The time to demand a new deal is after the election, if the Conservatives win, when we can explain to her the wish of the majority to simply leave the EU if a new relationship that works for us is not forthcoming.

Yesterday I found myself in agreement with Mrs Merkel when she argued against economic sanctions on Russia. On this occasion the UK seemed to have forgotten their aim of building a stronger friendly alliance with Germany, and instead disagreeed with her over this issue. Mrs Merkel clearly has no wish to run the risk of losing access to Russian gas, vital to German industry. Nor does she want to stop selling BMWs and Mercedes to the Russian state and its richer citizens.

If Germany does not think the Ukraine’s sovereignty is worth the loss of some luxury car sales, the UK should not think it worth the loss of  financial and banking services for Russians in London. If western banking centres are regularly overriden by governments seeking to freeze or confiscate foreigner’s assets held here, the banking centres will soon be undermined. Of course in extreme cases where leaders of foreign countries commit crimes against humanity and are likely to have to stand trial in due course at the Hague we can take early action on their money. Individual rich people who have committed financial crimes also are a fair target for the authorities.  It would not be wise to extend this to disagreements about courses of action which fall short of the criminal.

The best thing to do in the Ukraine is to await the outcome of new elections. Then a democratic Ukrainian government can negotiate with Russia over Russia’s military rights in the Crimea. It is probably going to take at least much strengthened devoltuion to the Crimea from here, or possibly the Ukrainian government accepting the outcome of a referendum of all the Crimean people on what they want for their future. The west should favour new elections and a referendum, to settle things democratically, and should tell Russia she too should pledge to respect the outcomes of these forthcoming votes.

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57 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Indeed I agree. But why would anyone offer an EU deal to Cameron when his heart and soul is already on the EU undemocratic superstate ship? Anyway he is in the dying month of his disastrous period of “leadership”. Labour could offer something on the EU anyway but thank to Cameron poor showing they do not even need to.

    • Hope
      Posted March 7, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      I think most people realise there is no prospect of Cameron being able to renegotiate in the time frame he suggests even in the remote possibility of him ever being reflected. Then there is the hurdle to convince the other 27 countries. Pie in the sky clap trap. Should we now believe him on the economy, the EU, immigration, defence increases when the economy improves, tax reductions? You name it he failed to deliver on it. Good bye and good riddancet o him.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 7, 2014 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        Indeed it seems the we will just have to suffer Miliband. At least Miliband is more against wars and has some fair science & maths A levels. He might do sensible things, Cameron are we know we not. He will clearly give us yet more EU, taxes, equality drivel, greencrap ……… if elected.

        True Miliband has very worrying links with the state sector unions and largely daft MPs who believe in magic government money trees.
        Cameron’s only advantage is about 100 back benchers who are relatively sensible and (very occasionally) manage to stop one or two of his lunacies.

        Still I would rather have Miliband than have to watch Cameron rat again.

        • Hope
          Posted March 8, 2014 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

          Matters not, like the Tories in Canada it will force the Tory party to split or start afresh. Those modernisers who wrecked the party would be better suited to Labour/ Lib Dumbs. The hundred or so existing Tories will need to decide which direction they want to go in.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 8, 2014 at 7:58 am | Permalink

        Indeed Cameron is clearly just a Libdem genetically & thus wrong on every major issue. With 299+ tax increases, endless pro EU drivel, soft loans to the EU, war mongering, greencrap, over regulate, fake equality nonsense and uncontrolled immigration, EU & IHT ratter.

        I would far prefer to see the (very slightly worse) Miliband than have to watch Cameron rat for another 5 years. He had a huge opportunity to be better than Lady Thatcher but he threw it, and the last election, away for want of a working compass.

  2. arschloch
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    And you really think Mrs Merkel is going to do everything we want when GCHQ is regularly tuning into her mobile phone conversations? The Brazilian government has just told Boeing to get stuffed, over an arms order, after what the NSA has been up to over there. Apart from the City potentially losing out to investing the ill gotten gains of Russian “businessmen” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22310575 How many public schools would be only minutes away from academy status (a euphemism for a Shirley Williams comp) if they had turn away their kids too? It not worth it for the UK, do like the French do and think about money over morality.

  3. Mark B
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    John Redwood MP said;
    ” . . . when we can explain to her . . . ”

    Why, what can she do ?

    To answer my own question, she can’t do anything except offer a few words of comfort. Germany and the rest of the Eurozone have their own problems and will have little time for us. There is a new Treaty on the horizon and, that if anything, will derail any referendum plans you might have. So I doubt we will get one if the Conservatives are elected. And before our kind host gives me his usual stock answer(s), his party has reneged on so many promises, as to render its word worthless. NO ONE BELIEVES YOU !!!

    As has been stated by the German Chancellor already, it would help if we were all told exactly what it is Cameron wants. Because he has no list on offer, how can any discussion and commitments be made ?

    This whole thing is looking more like what it is. A shambolic exercise in order to keep the party faithful and ‘Eurosceptics’ (if any) contented and off his back. The fact that you have been fooled by such a low grade trick is really rather sad. But I think it best if our kind host and others drop this fantasy as fewer and fewer people are buying it. Its a bit like telling a 16 year old that Santa and the Tooth Fairy exist. No matter how earnest you are in your protestations, you are not getting through the wall of scepticism.

  4. Richard1
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    I saw an interesting piece yesterday in the FT by a Russian defending Putin’s action, and blaming NATO and the EU for trying to re recruit Ukraine. He asserted that the EU had told Ukraine that membership of Putin’s proposed Russian customs union was incompatible with membership of the EU’s customs union. If so this is a point the UK should be telling the EU to reverse. The wider customs unions are the better. It would be good for example if the UK could join NAFTA. It sounds as though part of the cause of this is expansionism and protectionism by the EU.

    • Timaction
      Posted March 7, 2014 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      It was the EU’s ambitions to recruit the Ukraine and Georgia into its trading block with a view to future membership that has caused this response from Russia. This was supported by the USA for its own strategic interests. It sees the EU”s ambitions as a threat against its own allies and interests.
      We now have seen the consequences of that ambition and stupidity.
      The renegotiation and then referendum cannot come in the timeframe and without the support of a majority of the 28 states. If that was achieved then there would have to be intergovernmental meetings etc. There is no mechanism for renegotiation it is Article 50 or nothing. Our President Barroso and others have repeated this often. How many times do they have to say this before it sinks in with the current politicos and mainstream press that the referendum is mechanism to scare and encourage support for Mr Cameron at the next election. No one even knows what he wants renegotiated! All the rest like free movement of people as most come here and we end up paying for the health, education and all other public service costs for other nations. LibLabCons legacy Parties do not look after the interests of the indigenous population.

      • Hope
        Posted March 8, 2014 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        You forget to say Cameron has no control over EU immigration or the quality of those who come here. The brightest and best line is pure nonsense. Now we learn Cameron and Clegg are too posh to bring up their own children and use cheap immigrant labour to do it for them. The spokes person for No.10 still used the line how “we ” are attract ingot he brightest and best. I am sure the nanny is lovely person but how this equates to the brightest and best line is beyond comprehension. I am sure the are equally suitable British nannies who could have been employed, although they might be more expensive to hire.

        A bit like the big business scam import cheap labour and we pay the tax credits and provide homes for them. Has Boles worked out yet we cannot house the world even if he allows every piece of countryside to be built on.

    • arschloch
      Posted March 7, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      You will get your trade deal with the Americans, but it will be in the form of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and as Zac Goldsmith points out be careful what you wish for.

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/british-sovereignty-at-risk-from-euus-trade-deal-uk-in-danger-of-surrendering-judicial-independence-to-multinational-corporations-warn-activists-9057318.html

      • Richard1
        Posted March 7, 2014 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

        I have seen protests against these US trade deals by various leftists. It doesn’t sound like their objections are valid. In order for there to be a stable investment climate businesses need to know they can seek redress if their businesses or assets are damaged or confiscated, just because its governments doing it doesn’t mean there should be no such redress. It is nonsense to say it is unbalanced – businesses have to obey the laws of the countries in which they operate.

    • Mark B
      Posted March 7, 2014 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      If you go to Dr. Richard North’s site (EUReferendum), under, “Ukraine: Provocation disguised ?”, he a very good write up on something called, ‘ deep and comprehensive free trade area’ (DCFTA). Apparently, Ukraine was being offered access to the Single Market but not full membership. If a country like Ukraine can be offered such good terms, then I argue, so can the UK.

      He provides a link:

      http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/fule/docs/news/20111221_more_information_fule_visit_to_ukraine.pdf

      In [i]Europe[/i], but not run by Europe.

      • uanime5
        Posted March 8, 2014 at 2:49 am | Permalink

        Did these terms involve having to implement all EU laws and not being able to make laws contrary to EU laws? You know the same deal that Turkey currently has.

  5. alan jutson
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Whilst I take your point John with regards to sanctions, surely we should make up our own minds what is best, and not follow someone else’s leader.

    Whilst I would readily agree a referendum for the Crimea area sounds like a good idea to help resolve the situation, this should surely be done without Russian influence, certainly without Russian boots on the ground, certainly without Russian planted so called residents in the area, and should be overseen by the Ukraine government whoever that is.

    Wonder if they will have any postal votes ?

    • Hope
      Posted March 7, 2014 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      A bit like government consultation, the decision has been made and the a so for the public view just in case there is something they have forgotten. Or just impose the EU constitution and give away sovereignty and independence because the outcome looks uncertain.

    • oldtimer
      Posted March 7, 2014 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Russia has boots on the ground (c25000 IIRC) by virtue of its established agreement with the Ukraine for sea, ground and air base facilities in the Crimea. They are not going away any time soon, if ever.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted March 7, 2014 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Alan–No doubt there will be a lot of sucking of teeth about whether the Crimean referendum will be unduly influenced by Russia (though best I can tell Russia does not need to do much arm twisting) but be that as it may I think it is marvellous that they are talking about a referendum in (now) fewer than 10 days. Would that that were the way things were here instead of Cameron’s attempt to blackmail people in to voting for him to get even a chance of a referendum and all the talk, which I am no nearer understanding, why we need an Act to have a referendum.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 7, 2014 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        My understanding is that we only need an Act for the government to hold an EU referendum because at present there is no primary legislation that would permit the government to proceed through secondary legislation to spend money and make decisions on the question and the timing and the franchise and the funding of campaign groups for both sides and so on; which actually presents an interesting contrast with the referendum in Scotland, where the UK Parliament only passed secondary legislation, an order, under its existing primary legislation of the Scotland Act 1998, as the way make a special grant of legal power to the Scottish Parliament and government to do such things.

        However what has happened in Crimea is a very different kettle of fish because whatever law or decree has been made for the referendum is sure to be illegal under the constitution of the Ukraine; unlike the Scottish authorities the Crimean regional authorities are in a state of rebellion, and under those circumstances things can move very quickly.

        There is an interesting comment from that woman Yulia Tymoshenko reported here:

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26475508

        “Speaking in Dublin, Ukrainian former premier Yulia Tymoshenko made an emotional appeal for greater European integration.

        She said: “We are building a European nation – we are doing this and nobody can stop us. We owe this to those who died and to those who are living.””

        Note how she assumes as a matter of course that the other peoples who are currently within the EU will want greater integration not only among themselves but also with the Ukrainians to build that “European nation” which she wants and which apparently nobody can stop; I wonder who could have given her that mistaken idea?

  6. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    I fully agree with you . Militarily up to now Russia is flexing its muscles. Talk of sanctions by Obama is a financial flexing. If action were to come into being then action would need to be used in opposition.

  7. Alan Wheatley
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Rather than simply attacking what Russia is doing in Crimea we should examine and question the way they are doing it.

    So, for instance, if Russia supports a referendum in Crimea then we should require Russia to justify the validity of such a referendum: is the question fairly put; can both sides of the argument put their case to all the people of Crimea; are votes cast freely; is the count valid?

    Russia is claiming to be acting as the good guy, so they should be held up to World-wide scrutiny as to the “goodness” of their actions.

  8. Roy Grainger
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    It is clear that a majority of people in Crimea wish to be part of Russia. How can we oppose giving them a referendum on that while supporting a Scottish referendum and also saying that Northern Ireland can join the Republic just as a soon as a majority there want to ? Imposing economic sabctions on Russia is idiocy – when they cut the oil and gas off to Europe then what ?

    • uanime5
      Posted March 8, 2014 at 2:55 am | Permalink

      How can we oppose giving them a referendum on that while supporting a Scottish referendum and also saying that Northern Ireland can join the Republic just as a soon as a majority there want to ?

      Well Russia’s 30 thousand soldiers in Crimea do make it highly likely that this election won’t be free or fair.

  9. Bert Young
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Totally agree that we should await the outcome of the elections in the Ukraine ; meanwhile we must keep our powder dry . The presence of the Russians in the Crimea is an irritant and does not help their respect internationally , however this does not mean that we have to align ourselves to any situation that would be detrimental to our commerce or future interests . The EU are powerless and , so far , have made a big mistake in attempting to push for a pro European relationship with minority party individuals in the Ukraine . Let the people there decide for themselves and encourage the dialogue and negotiations with their neighbours the Russians .

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    JR: ” The west should favour new elections and a referendum, to settle things democratically”
    They did just that on 21 February when an agreement was signed by President Yanukovych, the Ukrainian opposition and the ministers of foreign affairs of Poland, Germany and France. It was agreed that presidential elections would be held as soon as the new Constitution was adopted, but no later than December 2014. The following day, Yanukovich fled Kiev and the whole thing was jettisoned because of the actions of the protestors. Within a few days, a new government was appointed. As always, it would seem in such cases, the west immediately recognised the legitimacy of this government, despite the fact that the agreement they had helped to formulate with the previous elected government had been abandoned by threat of force from the protestors. Russia is continually protrayed as the villains in this by western politicians and the media whilst ignoring the role that the EU and the USA played in initially fomenting the crisis.

  11. Iain Gill
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    the problem with elections is who decides on the candidates

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted March 7, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Iain–Agree entirely. I have often written here that elections are not all they are cracked up to be: all that gets proven is who is good at winning elections about which I care not at all. I like the idea of immediate referenda, being most unimpressed with the long build-up to the Scottish referendum–less time for politicians to spoil the purity and simplicity of it all, not to mention any fiddling of the result.

      PS to JR–This is the second time you have omitted the ‘h’.

    • Posted March 7, 2014 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

      or who counts the votes?

    • lifelogic
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      That, and anyway what they promise before the election has so little relevance to what they do after. Also the voting system often forces voters into a “least bad of the two dreadful candidates” votes.

      • lifelogic
        Posted March 9, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        Also the voters who will always vote to be given more of other people’s money.

  12. a-tracy
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I might be looking at this too simplistically but how is the people of Crimea wanting to choose their own independence and inter-reliance on Russia different to Scotland having a referendum of their people to choose independence and inter-reliance on the EU? There will be losers in this referendum that don’t like the outcome of the decision.
    The people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland don’t get a say in Scotland’s vote and potential rejection of our Union.

  13. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    On BBC Question Time last David Aaronovitch claimed that the UK had guaranteed the independence and sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and Simon Hughes agreed with him that we are under a treaty obligation to defend Ukraine against Russia, and Michael Heseltine conceded that to be the case but questioned whether we were in a position to do anything effective to fulfil that guarantee.

    Thus millions of viewers were given the false impression that in 1994 the UK had given Ukraine a guarantee similar to that given to Poland in 1939 under the “Agreement on Mutual Assistance”, the text of which may be read here:

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Agreement_of_Mutual_Assistance_between_the_United_Kingdom_and_Poland-London_(1939)

    That is simply not true, and one might have thought that a Times journalist and a brace of national politicians might have bothered to read the 1994 “Memorandum on Security Assurances” to see what it says before telling the public what it says.

    That 1994 agreement may be read here:

    https://www.msz.gov.pl/en/p/wiedenobwe_at_s_en/news/memorandum_on_security_assurances_in_connection_with_ukraine_s_accession_to_the_treaty_on_the_npt?printMode=true

    and they are all wrong; including Heseltine, who agreed with Aaronovitch that we had given Ukraine that kind of guarantee but argued that in practice we could do nothing to fulfil it; because in fact we can do everything which is presently required of us under the treaty, that actually being limited to:

    “6. Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America will consult in the event a situation arises that raises a question concerning these commitments.”

    And even if Russia was threatening the use of nuclear weapons, which is hasn’t done so far, our obligation under that agreement would still only extend to:

    “4 … seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used”.

    If one wishes to discuss this legalistically, that is in terms of “international law”, then clearly the recent actions of the Russians put them in breach of the 1994 agreement, but the lack of any reaction by the UK beyond that required by paragraph 6 does not put us in default of what we promised; while on the hand it could be argued that the UK has been in breach of paragraph 1 of the agreement for years by allowing and encouraging the EU to try to extend its territory to encompass the Ukraine, to the clear detriment of the latter’s independence and the effective exercise of its sovereignty, and more recently by allowing the EU to foment revolution in the Ukraine.

    And if one wishes to discuss it not legalistically but geopolitically, it was a foolish and dangerous idea that Russia under a strong leader like Putin would stand idly by and not react in any way when the NATO-backed EU was openly setting out plans for a southern encirclement, not just around the Black Sea but around the Caspian Sea and as far as the Urals, as Cameron told his audience last July when he was in the Kazakhstan capital Astana, 1200 miles east of Stalingrad and actually beyond the line of the Urals.

    • forthurst
      Posted March 7, 2014 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      “…the recent actions of the Russians put them in breach of the 1994 agreement….”

      CNN broadcast footage of Russian tanks invading Ukraine. The tanks were on manoeuvre outside the border of Ukraine; the conflation of genuine footage with deliberately false captions, commonplace in the MSM including the BBC, is hard to justify as a legitimate expression of a free press rather than as that of a totalitarian state, where truth is the first casualty.

    • uanime5
      Posted March 8, 2014 at 3:02 am | Permalink

      while on the hand it could be argued that the UK has been in breach of paragraph 1 of the agreement for years by allowing and encouraging the EU to try to extend its territory to encompass the Ukraine

      What is this even meant to mean? Are you claiming that it’s the UK fault that countries bordering Ukraine wanted to join the EU?

      more recently by allowing the EU to foment revolution in the Ukraine.

      How is it the EU’s fault that the Ukrainians ousted their president for corruption?

      as Cameron told his audience last July when he was in the Kazakhstan capital Astana, 1200 miles east of Stalingrad and actually beyond the line of the Urals.

      As Kazakhstan is part of the Eurasian Economic Union (along with Russia) they’re unlikely to join the EU.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 8, 2014 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        It’s all perfectly clear and should no need no further explanation, however I will spell it out for you.

        The EU is aiming to strip sovereignty from its member states and become a sovereign federation, a United States of Europe to parallel the United States of America, and indeed according to the assertions of its Court of Justice it has already established a legal order superior to the national legal orders of the constituent countries; therefore the UK is in breach of its 1994 commitment to “respect the independence and sovereignty” of Ukraine just by allowing and encouraging the EU to try to absorb it, let alone by being complicit in the EU’s efforts to foment revolution.

        As for Kazakhstan and the Eurasian Union, maybe you should have mentioned that little problem to Cameron before he headed off to Astana and announced that he wanted the EU to stretch as far as the Urals.

  14. oldtimer
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Wait and see is the Merkel approach to most issues – it is a typical politicians approach to put off all and any decision until the very last minute.

    I read that Angela Leadsom (on ConservativeHome) drew some positives from her detailed analysis of Merkel`s speech to Parliament. But equally that speech was also, in all probability, an exercise in studied ambiguity – another characteristic of an experienced politician.

    In foreign affairs, national interest is a more reliable, and therefore better, guide to action than morality – not least because it is easier for others to understand.

  15. mike fowle
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Is the heading deliberate?

    I wrote it as I wished it to be read.

  16. Atlas
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Hmmm, don’t forget our 1994 territorial integrity pledge. Is that to walked away from so easily?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 7, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      See above; that pledge is being grossly misinterpreted.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted March 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      Yes. No treaty is forever and no parliament can bind its successors.

  17. stred
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Listening to EUral Dave letting us know that we are going to be as tough as Obama on the aggressor, with sanctions, freezing of Russian bank accounts and more, it was interesting to hear that a referendum on independence for part of a country is illegal without the permission of the original country. Also, that the deposing of an elected but flawed government of a country and creation of a new unelected government is legal and to be supported. It would be interesting to see this resolved by independent legal proceedings. In the meantime , if it is possible to organise a referendum in the Crimea in 2 weeks, why is it going to take 3 months to have an election in the rest of the country? Presumably independent observers could be found fairly quickly.

    The country had a leader who few trusted and had broken promises, has lead the country into huge debts, allowed a financial system which allows large scale international money movement and tax avoidance, and had spent a fortune putting paving stones all over city centres while neglecting huge potholes elswhere. In addition a large proportion of the population in the in the most distant regions has wished to be independent for a long time. In this situation it is good to know that that a peaceful rebellion, using paviors and other weapons will be welcomed by the the US and EU.

    Even better, when we have taken over Downing Street, we will be able to change the law and keep Scotland. (if we are daft enough)

    • stred
      Posted March 7, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Forgot to mention- why wait a year until we can get rid of him in an election, or even 3 months if the Germans fix up a deal.

    • uanime5
      Posted March 8, 2014 at 3:05 am | Permalink

      it was interesting to hear that a referendum on independence for part of a country is illegal without the permission of the original country. Also, that the deposing of an elected but flawed government of a country and creation of a new unelected government is legal and to be supported. It would be interesting to see this resolved by independent legal proceedings.

      Well the Ukrainian parliament did vote in favour of the new government but didn’t vote in favour of Crimea holding a referendum. So the former is legal, while the latter is not.

  18. forthurst
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    “The best thing to do in the Ukraine is to await the outcome of new elections. Then a democratic Ukrainian government…”

    So an undemocratic government that came to power after an armed coup, passing draconian and divisive laws, having driven out a democratically elected President and his supporters who fled for their lives, a government of whom Urmas Paet, Estonian foreign Affairs minister has alleged, “There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition,” to the Baroness “Gosh” Ashdown, will be holding full and fair elections in May?

    The Crimean parliament has already decided to leave Ukraine and join Russia, a decision to be ratified by a plebiscite on March 16. It is very likely that Crimea will become a Russian protectorate in the short term after a positive vote.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted March 13, 2014 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      At least the Americans have no proposals to send marines into Ukraine. Do you remember the old Tom Lerah song about sending in US marines?

      “They’ve got to be protected
      All their rights respected
      Till someone we like can be elected”

  19. BobE
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Europe is toothless and is just blustering whilst Putin runs rings around them. In hock to Russia for energy and sales of goods. Nothing will happen, except meaningless words.
    Bob

  20. Neil Craig
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I have been part of an interesting discussion elsewhere on Ukraine and it is amazing how semi-existent the concept of the country is. There never has been a separate Ukrainian state, indeed Kiev has the capital of ancient Russia. The languages are no more different than English and Yorkshire. Such nationalism as there is is largely confined to Galicia (which was Austro Hungarian before 1914.

    Considering the country is deeply bankrupt it seems not improbable that in a fair election, the majority would vote to be part of Russia. A comparison can be made with the Austrian Anschluss, when it was said that if Britain, France & Italy had marched against Germany to defend Austria’s independence “every Austrian without exception would support Germany”. This is not to say a Russian union with Ukraine would not have ramifications merely that it is difficult to see what we could or should do about it.

    • uanime5
      Posted March 8, 2014 at 3:15 am | Permalink

      There never has been a separate Ukrainian state, indeed Kiev has the capital of ancient Russia.

      What about the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia, Kievan Rus, the Crimean Khanate, and all the land owned by the Pechenegs? They were all independent countries located in modern day Ukraine.

      Considering the country is deeply bankrupt it seems not improbable that in a fair election, the majority would vote to be part of Russia.

      Are you referring to the majority of Crimea or the majority of Ukraine? The latter are less likely to vote to become part of Russia.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        For ‘Crimea says No’, try substituting ‘Ulster says No’. Now do you understand?

  21. Antisthenes
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    The Ukraine is a mess of everybody’s making internally corrupt tyrannical government, it’s citizens with divided loyalties and externally meddling by both east and west. The current outcome therefore should be no surprise. The west no longer has the appetite for military conflict thank goodness and the EU at least has not got the might to engage with Russia even if it did. The USA has a president who’s foreign policy has shown him to be inept and weak so no help there. The only recourse now is diplomacy backed up with threats of economic sanctions but even there the EU does not have much leverage as you rightly point out what hurts Russia hurts us equally. Of course the problems mount up for the future because places like Russia and China both having used force for territorial gain in the past and finding that the west does very little in response are going to continue to do it.

  22. Mike Rolph
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    John, as always your measured responce is at odds with our Governments. The anti Russian rhetoric is to me at odds with at least some of the known facts of events leading to the overthrow of the democratically elected Ukranian government.
    In the first place we have John Kerrys statement to the US senate that 5 billion dollars had been allocated to supporting the opposition, this is prior to his and Ashtons visit in support of the demonstators. Is this not interference in the affairs of a sovereign state? Then we have the phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland discussing who will hold what future positions in the new government. On top of that we have the phonecall between Ashton and the Estonian Foreign Affairs minister where he informs her the information from Doctor Olga Bogomolets suggests the snipers responsible for the deaths of both police and protesters were hired by the leaders of the Maiden protest. While she currently denies these statements you can see her on CNN daying that she had treated both protesters and members of the police and Berkut riot police something she now denies.
    The fact that all this occurs when Russias attention was on Sochi makes it look more like a US/EU putsch, but then what do we know. If there is an announcement that large gas deposits have been found in the Ukrain perhaps all will become clear.

  23. yulwaymartyn
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Just a small number of facts:

    German exports to Russia:$38.3 billion

    UK exports to Russia $7.3 billion

    UK financial services exports to Russia:$1.2 billion

  24. Rod
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    So in other words, 1930′s style appeasement for a leader of an effective one party state. Maybe cast iron Dave can have a meeting with Putin and wave a piece of paper on his return, at Heathrow, saying there is no need for any action against Russian aggression, including any sanctions as he has it in writing “Peace in our time” where the Russians have agreed to no more opportunist expansion. Looking back at past events in Europe “What could possibly go wrong?”.

    I guess where we are furthest away from Russia in Western Europe, you are counting on the crocodiles eating us last!

    To me this approach is encouraging Putin to also annex Eastern or all of Ukraine and if he does so you will end up with a massively unstable region as the Ukrainians will fight. During WWII this is the famous Partisan area where very few German soldiers that escaped Stalingrad made it back to their front line due to the Partisans. The Nazis killing 100 civilians for every German soldier killed did not stop the Partisans. Many of the older demonstrators in Freedom Square were Red Army Afghan veterans who have fought against irregular forces which defeated the Red Army and this will not be lost on them.

    Putin’s previous remarks show that he also considers Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania as part of Russia and in the past has issued passports to Estonians who are ethnic Russians where this is his modus operandi as a prelude to ‘protecting’ them. If or more likely when this happens, where they are part of Nato a more difficult decision will have to be made. My guess is that the US, Nato and the EU will all back down and NATO which has kept the peace for the last 65 years will, including during the cold war, be a busted flush.

    A big part of Putin’s success has been due to the steadily increasing living standards of those in the cities, (with a loss of media freedom and human rights) but this has in the past been based on average growth of 5.5%. For the last 3 years the Russian economy has tanked with average growth of 1.3% with further difficulties ahead with soft oil, gas and commodity prices and the withdrawal of investment money due to US tapering. This investment flight has so far affected Brazil, India, Russia, Indonesia and Turkey. So if his popularity is not all that he needs in 2016 then there will be nothing like a little Baltic land grabbing to boost his popularity and election chances, where the west is showing it is a one way bet to expanding your empire.

    The UK was a signatory to an agreement in 1994 with the USA, Ukraine and Russia guaranteeing Ukrainian territorial integrity if they gave up nuclear weapons. Is this government so shameless that they will do nothing, not even selective sanctions to show their displeasure? If, so the lesson here for any country is never ever, ever give up any weapons system especially nukes (take note North Korea and the future nuclear armed Iran) for any useless Western guarantees.

    The world over the last 2 weeks has got a much more dangerous place with WWIII now much more likely due to Western appeasement in the light of Russian aggression. How to make it much safer again, a robust non-military response, where it hurts, which is their economy, to show that aggression and land grabbing does not pay.

  25. Terry
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    To Brussels, the UK is a simple cash cow who does everything they so dictate. Our country has become so politically insignificant to them they seek to undermine us in every way they can, very much like the playground bully. And we take it on the chin each time. We are weak, too weak. New rules are spewed out willy ninny and unlike other EU Nations, we always conform. It has already been shown by independent analysis and research that this country would be better off leaving that Marxists club but Mr Cameron, like the devious Heath, has his heart in Europe. There is no reason why he should not call the EU referendum now, regardless of what those turncoats in the Libdems may think. They have shamelessly denied democracy to this country and it is time that the vastly superior Tory element in the Coalition really called the shots. That action alone would cause a dramatic change in the Polls. What is he scared of? Winning?

    • Aunty Estab
      Posted March 7, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      Pity we hav`nt a leader with the backbone of Putin, instead of the feeble public schoolboys that predominate both main parties,none them dare stand up for this country against anyone. they don`t care how much stupid E. U. regulation are subjected to as long as they get their faces on the silly photos after the even sillier conferences they love to attend. Can you imagine Putin signing Russian citizens up to the European Arrest Warrant or the one sided extradition treaty we have with the USA? Is there any wonder election turnouts are so low when the choice is so abysmal?

  26. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 8, 2014 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    Russia is 10 days away from annexing the Crimea with popular support. It’s a done deal and we shouldn’t try to prevent it, particularly since the Crimea used to be Russian in the first place.

    Russian insecurity has been heightened even since the Lisbon ‘Treaty’ was signed. At that time the EU acquired a permanent President and Foreign Minister. These posts are at the moment occupied by nonentities but that won’t be the case in future. The European Super State structure is well advanced and a sizable group of Member States, under German’s chairmanship, is planning an EU military capability.

    A state that has much more to complain about Russian occupation is Georgia, to whose aid the West conspicuously failed to come in 2008. The Ossetian ‘tribe’ originally migrated from Persia (now Iran) to what is now known as North Ossetia, a place in Russia wholly to the North of the northern Caucuses. There never was a South Ossetia until Stalin ordered the migration southwards of some Ossetians, with the specific objective of anchoring Georgia in the Soviet Union. And Stalin was a Georgian!!!! The southern border of South Ossetia is only 10 miles north of Gory, Stalin’s birthplace. And then there is Abhkazia, a province that has broken away from Georgia (with the help of the Red Army), whose independence is recognised only by Russia, and is an international pariah with no prospects. Between South Ossetia and Abhkazia, Georgia has lost 15% of its territory.

  27. uanime5
    Posted March 8, 2014 at 3:17 am | Permalink

    If western banking centres are regularly overriden by governments seeking to freeze or confiscate foreigner’s assets held here, the banking centres will soon be undermined.

    The banks will be harmed more if the UK is seen as an immoral country that will deal with anyone for enough money.

    The best thing to do in the Ukraine is to await the outcome of new elections. Then a democratic Ukrainian government can negotiate with Russia over Russia’s military rights in the Crimea.

    Unfortunately Russia wants a referendum before then. Also are you recommending an election for the president or for the whole parliament?

    should tell Russia she too should pledge to respect the outcomes of these forthcoming votes.

    Along with telling Russia to remove their 30 thousands soldiers before an referendum.

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  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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