The EU and Russia

I am no apologist for Russia. I do not support illegal invasions nor fuelling civil wars in third countries. Russia has not behaved well in Ukraine.
That does not make me a fan of the EU’s approach either. It takes two to make a conflict. The EU has helped destabilise Ukraine by its approach to the previous elected President and by its offers to the new government in Kiev. The EU has not clearly condemned shelling and bombing of civilians by the Kiev government in the way it has condemned Russian military support to the rebels or the bloodless occupation of Crimea.
Policy before the EU and Russian interventions in UKrainian politics was based on a long term rapprochement of Russia and the west, following the unpleasant cold war. That was a good policy, and the world will be a worse place if diplomats and governments are unable to get back to positive working together between Russia and the west. The west’s interests are not best served by a poorer and angry Russia, locked out from western financial markets.
I read that Russia and the west still do co-operate to some extent on Middle Eastern policy, where both sides have important interests in stability but have different reach and influence depending on the country concerned. The Middle East needs Russia and the west to work together for stability in that troubled and war torn area.
In Europe, the EU should seek to reassure Russia that it is not following ambitions to encircle Russia in any threatening way. NATO is a defensive alliance in Europe. Ruling out adding more countries to NATO would be a good idea. In Ukraine we need an agreement to leave Ukraine as an independent country, where both the EU and Russia can have access and some influence without either side seeking or gaining control or untoward influence over policy. We need to find a way to get rid of sanctions with promises of no further military interventions by Russia. It is time to talk to see what is on offer. Those who are sure Russia is out to invade other countries will dislike this approach. Perhaps the best way to tip Russia into a more militaristic foreign policy is to carry on isolating her.

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119 Comments

  1. bluedog
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Wise words, Dr JR. It must surely be a Western imperative to avoid having Russia become a vassal state of a resurgent China.

    In both World Wars Britain was allied with Russia in order to control try and control and neutralise threats from Germany. We jointly succeeded on both occasions and it now seems extremely unlikely that Britain will again face an existential threat from Germany.

    Our principal ally, the US, sees things from the perspective of avoiding a hostile European hegemon, not unlike our own view. In the US view, WW2 first presented a credible threat after the fall of France with the risk that Britain would fall too. The union of the Kriegsmarine, the French Navy and the Royal Navy could then have dominated the North Atlantic and been able to threaten the eastern seaboard of the US.

    The Cold War posed the threat that a hostile Russia would annexe Germany in full, a situation that the UK would have been unlikely to survive. Fortunately we prevailed yet again, but will our luck hold?

    The US is titling towards the Pacific as China threatens the US power structure globally and in particular in East Asia. There seems little doubt that China seeks its own exclusive sphere of influence in the Far East and the more hawkish voices in China are adamant about removing US naval dominance in the Western Pacific. Russia is of course a Pacific power, but a very weak one. Despite this, it suits China to try and draw Russia into its alliance network as a source of defence technology and energy.

    If Britain is to leave the EU and become an independent global trader once again, a close alliance between China and Russia could potentially see the UK locked out of important markets. Do we sacrifice Ukraine, whose borders we underwrote in 1994, to prevent a Russo-Chinese bloc? No we don’t, but we need to find something beyond megaphone diplomacy in dealing with Russia. Unpleasant though he is, it seems unlikely that Putin can be toppled either, even though the Russian economy is scheduled to contract on the Kremlin’s own figures. Regime change could be wishful thinking.

    • Hope
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      Good post JR, I prefer Hitchens thoughts on the situation- a thorough detailed historical analysis. Cameron, once again, on the wrong side of the debate trying to make us think badly of the nasty Russians in a PR stunt with no substance to back up what he says.

      The EU and the US broke their promises to the Russians and started this mess. Cameron’s speech last year about EU expansionism would only act to provoke Russia. The same man who now claims EU renegotiation! The UK has no i tests in the UKraine why is Cameron allowing the UK to follow EU foreign policy, or are they the same now? Cameron could not stand up to Salmond over Scotland he would be best advised not to make threats to Russia that he could not keep, even with the EU behind him.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        Cameron does seem to be quite reliably wrong on almost everything but then if you follow the EU you do tend to be.

        • bluedog
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink

          And Gerry Adams says that David Cameron is the worst negotiator he has ever sat opposite.

          etc ed

          • Hope
            Posted December 20, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

            Is this before Cameron says he does not deal with terrorists? How come the IRA is now in charge of Ireland. If Cameron’s claim is true I wonder what other terrorist groups think when they come to negotiate with him? Helped/forced admittedly by the U.S. No wonder we read EU Unelected bosses and EU leaders laugh and mock Cameron.

        • Tad Davison
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 11:41 am | Permalink

          Well said. My thoughts exactly. One day, the Tory party will see Cameron for what he is. For me, the revelation came soon after the 2010 election. I can never understand blind loyalty when the evidence is so stark.

          Tad

          • Lifelogic
            Posted December 20, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

            He is a typical no nation, tax borrow and waste, green crap Tory. In the Ted Heath, John Major, Nick Clegg, C Huhne, Ed Davey, Ken Clarke, Lord Heseltine, Ed Miliband/Oxford PPE mould. The only difference from Labour is he has a few MPs on the sensible wing who very occasionally make him do something sensible

            He pretends to be a real Tory before elections but then kicks his supporters in the teeth straight afterwards and reverts to type.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted December 20, 2014 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

            We also now seem to have the pathetic spat between the Cameron camp and Theresa May’s aids now not being permitted to stand as candidates. Just to add to the disaster that is unfolding.

          • Sandra Cox
            Posted December 20, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

            Hello Tad, I don’t want to be Mrs Toppit, but I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to vote Conservative in 2010, for the first time in my adult life because I had no faith in Cameron, and realised that he was a loser – all talk, no substance! I warned my friends and family of the impending disaster, and I convinced myself that at least Cameron couldn’t be worse than Brown, so I had low expectations, but desperately hoped for the best! Then, to my utter disappointment, I realised that his game plan anyway was to throw the election, and to form a LibDem coalition – and advance immediately, blinkers on, to embrace the EU and all the cr*# it has thrown at us since.

            What a disaster when the UK is in desperate need of a patriotic government – one that puts the UK before all else. No chance of getting anything like that from any of our current politicians (with the exception of John and a few others). Time to up the ante?

            Sandra

          • Tad Davison
            Posted December 20, 2014 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

            Thank you Sandra. A lot of people feel the same way. Just wondering if you’re the same Sandra from a certain constituency in Kent that I used to campaign for?

            Tad

          • Sandra Cox
            Posted December 21, 2014 at 10:23 am | Permalink

            Hello Tad – re your latest, no I’m not, and no relation to Steve either. I hope you’re not too disappointed 🙂

          • Anonymous
            Posted December 21, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

            Tad – Peter Hitchens wrote a book called The Cameron Delusion before 2010.

            He now writes prolifically about an impending war with Russia – instigated by NATO and the EU.

      • Mark B
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 11:15 am | Permalink

        Hope

        It is not Cameron. It could just as easily be you, me or Nigel Farrage in the top job. When you sign up to; “EVER CLOSER UNION”, that means things like a ‘Common Foreign Policy’ are going to happen. They sit down, they discuss, and then they agree. Much like our Cabinet or Parliament does. The problem is, you are still in that mentality of individual Nation States, when in truth, it is not !

        • Mitchel
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

          Oh but it is Cameron – taking instruction from the White House no doubt.

          We may be signed up to a common EU foreign policy but I don’t see other EU members (apart from those other US poodles,Poland and the Baltic states,adopting such a megaphone approach).

          The good relations enjoyed with Russia in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union thanks to Margaret Thatcher(and the trade benefits that might have accrued through that)have been totally squandered through slavishly following a US neo-con agenda.See also Cameron’s stance on Syria.

          • Mark B
            Posted December 20, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

            Agreed. Cameron is not his own man. More like Mum’s Net’s favourite Metrosexual.

            But any PM has to listen to the people around him. It is Government by consent. He needs support of both the Cabinet and Parliament, not to mention the EU and our so called allies.

            But he is way over his head.

        • Hope
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

          I understand what you say, but I would expect a Eurosceptic to actually be Eurosceptic and DO something about getting out of the EU. Not pretend to be and do the opposite as Cameron has demonstrated over five years.

    • Anonymous
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      It bothers me that Germany (aka The EU) has historic eastward ambitions and it seems so today too.

      Now that Britain is EU we are part of this and our intentions indiscernible from it. Now we have Russian incursions in our air and sea space.

      It’s obvious that Russia would like to maintain a buffer between it and the EU. Any interventions by the EU were bound to be provocative.

      Also – much of our news is controlled by the BBC. They decide who are called ‘rebels’ and how little we hear of the shelling of civilians. Yet when – for example – Israel does the shelling it makes the headlines.

      • Mark B
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        What I guess frightens the Russians about the EU and the ‘EEA Agreement’ that Ukraine signed, was that it committed Ukraine to closer military cooperation. This is seen by Russia as a pretext for NATO to doorstep the Russians on their vulnerable Southern Border(s). Putin, with his only warm port naval base (excluding Tartis) had to act.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        ‘Now we have Russian incursions in our air and sea space.’

        The Russians consistently refute that. They carry out routine patrols in international air space and international waters, and say that NATO countries never produce evidence to back up their accusations. Further, the west keeps saying that Russian military exercises are provocative, yet those exercises are carried out on their own soil. Any claims by the west to the contrary have not been backed up by hard evidence.

        Russia did however protect ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine and thwart the wests attempt to dominate the Black Sea by its annexation of Crimea, and I say good on ’em! Somebody has to make a stand against the Neo-cons in Washington and London!

        Were I Vladimir Putin, and faced with a very hostile amalgamation of countries on my border, I would want to make sure my armed forces were ready to defend my country too. Take the amount of weaponry and personnel now being poured into Poland by NATO and the US. Is NATO planning to stoke up tensions even more in the new year and go into Ukraine to back up a very unsavoury regime?

        The west’s entire foreign policy is wrong. It is expansionist, and gives away their true intentions to dominate, rather than accommodate.

        As for the BBC, I agree with Peter Bone. It should be abolished altogether. There should be an immediate inquiry into its ways of working to find out who is pulling the strings. It is possibly the least truthful and least trustworthy of any domestic broadcaster, despite it trying to fool the public. That the BBC is solidly pro-EU can be gauged by their lack of coverage of anti-EU demonstrations against the EU right across the continent.

        Tad Davison

        Cambridge

        • DaveM
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

          “That the BBC is solidly pro-EU can be gauged by their lack of coverage of anti-EU demonstrations against the EU right across the continent.”

          Mm. I noticed that too. The biggest ones of course were in……..Germany!!! (And LePen is riding very high in France.) As I said the other day, the EU is going to unite the people of Europe against the EU. I hope so anyway – love Europe, like Europeans, despise the EU.

        • Timaction
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

          A good analysis Mr Redwood that we have previously discussed on these pages. I also wonder at the extreme drop in the Russian currency when other oil dependent states don’t appear to have the same problem. Is this manipulation by Governments/institutions?
          I’m afraid the leftist BBC is bought up and paid to promote EU propaganda as is the CBI and needs to be sold off.
          All the Legacy parties are pro EU and happy with the democratic deficit that they have created by stealth and peddle the usual lies on trade, jobs, voice in the world and influence (Remember Juncker!). All lies. We don’t have to be in the declining EU to trade with it, especially as we have a £40 billion deficit with them at an annual cost of £11 billion and rising. Open borders and collapsing health, education and other public services as a consequence. There is a real anger out here in the real world at our politicos defiantly ignoring what we want.
          Only one party will return sovereignty and democracy to these shores so that the British people have a say in their law making and can then elect who they please. Not the unelected dictators in the EU!

        • zorro
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

          Indeed…. This post is why John will never be a Minister. He doesn’t follow the approved stance on foreign affairs. What he says is perfect;y sensible and correct but not what they want to hear. Imagine if Russia was surrounding the US with military bases and alliances on its borders, and had around 900 bases around the world and spent many multiples of what the next nearest country spends on military spending. This world is topsy turvy and people fail to see the blindingly obvious. There is only one aggressive world superpower desperate to cling onto its world interest and subvert the interest of others… Do I need to give anyone a clue?

          zorro

        • BranE
          Posted December 21, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

          I agree with you 100% as regards Russia, but am less sure that you are right as regards the BBC . Certainly it needs to be brought up sharply on its lack of impartiality on many topics, but disbanding it is too great a step, the alternative may prove to be far worse. Can you imagine a world in which we would have to depend for our news on something run by someone like Murdoch for instance? Fox News anyone?

    • Mark B
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      I was with you until your last paragraph. And although many may buy the subtle pro-EU line of, ‘Bigger is better’, the naked facts do not bear this out. In short, your last paragraph is complete nonsense !

      To begin. Whilst indeed China is a growing global power, and she will undoubtedly use her muscle, both economic and militarily, to influence other nations into action, the latter of those two possibilities is unlikely. Not even Russia has threatened us. That leaves economics. Currently, the world is going through great change and the whole of the EU is just once part of that change. Organisations such as the UN, G8, WTO etc are going to be taking an ever more prominent role in world affairs and trade.

      It is a little known fact that, despite the size of the EU, it does not have a free trade deal with China. Yet, little old Iceland and all the others in EFTA do.

      http://www.efta.int/free-trade/free-trade-agreements/hong-kong

      Also, we need to be aware that, when one of the other Member Countries of the EU does something silly, like Germany for example. Because the EU sign agreements for all 28 Member Countries, we are seen as one by the likes of China and others. So China, or anyone else, are perfectly within their rights to block UK goods even though we ourselves have done nothing wrong.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-05/china-starts-probe-of-wine-after-eu-announces-solar-tariffs.html

      I am sorry for the length of the rebuff. But I we are increasingly seeing some pretty untrue statements being made in support of the EU, if not here, then elsewhere,. And they need to be challenged.

      • bluedog
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

        ‘And although many may buy the subtle pro-EU line of, ‘Bigger is better’, the naked facts do not bear this out.’

        Actually I’m a convinced Euro-sceptic. However identifying risk frequently leads one to pro-EU positions, if only to self-refute them in due course. The problem with China is the mentality of the heavenly centre or Middle-Kingdom that perpetually pervades Chinese elites, irrespective of era or ideology. Thus when plucky little Iceland signed an FTA with China, in Chinese eyes the Icelanders became a tributary state. You can see the results already with China trying to use Iceland as a stalking horse to give it preferential access to Arctic resources.

        Extending from this line of thought, nothing would give the Chinese greater pleasure than to execute an FTA with an independent UK. Revenge for 1840 at last!

        If Cameron were lead negotiator and keen to trumpet transitory ‘success’ every 24 hours, diplomatic humiliation could be predicted with confidence.

        • Mark B
          Posted December 21, 2014 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

          Whilst I agree with your last sentence, I am at odds with the rest.

          Trade is about give and take. If you have something to sell, and someone wants to buy it, then you have the makings of an agreement. The fact that China uses trade as means to extend its influence is nothing new. We were at one time masters at it, and once only has to look at Africa to see prime examples of where China has copied the British model of Empire through trade.

          My overall point being, we do not need the EU to trade with other countries and, when in dispute, we can resort to the WTO and other bodies.

  2. Mark B
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    And a good post from our kind host.

    I think we need to look beyond the confines of this dispute and see where it is taking all the protagonists. Cornering a nation like Russia, with her long and proud history, is not a very good idea. Also, one must consider the what other nations, such as China, are making of all this. They too must have concerns, as they have ambitions of their own which will undoubtedly, lead them into some sort of conflict, if not militarily, then certainly economically.

    We have seen a foreign policy by the EU and the US which, to be quite frank, is amateurish. They have blundered into a scrap with a major nation, with no exit strategy. They are therefore destined to continue in a provocative and hostile manor which will have implications for them for quite sometime.

    The Civil War in the Ukraine does not seem to be getting much of an airing, which suggests perhaps, that things are not going well for the EU and the US.

    We are therefore faced with a situation where neither side can be seen to back down. The Wests policy is not to defeat either militarily or economically Putin and Russia. Putin has built his whole persona as a strong man of Russia. A man of action and of the people. For him to climb down, would be seen as weak, much like that which happened to Khrushchev.

    Long term I think Putin will win. The Russian people and the Government will rally round and support him, but with so many people feeling the negative effects of falling oil prices, even at home, we could be entering a new phase of economic down turn. And all for a scrap of land most would not be able to find on a map.

    • Hope
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Good post. We are still witnessing the foreign policy mess in the Middle East. Cameron still not held to account for the absolute devastation he helped cause in Libya, British involvement in the torture and murder of Gaddifi (torture which you blogged about earlier this week) and his folly for supplying arms to the opposition of Assad, which is now believed to be part of IsIs that he wants to fight! Strategically Cameron has proved to be utterly useless on every issue.

      • Timaction
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        The comments section in the Express on line today on Mr Cameron’s article on immigration reveal the true level of feelings out here in the real world. It’s a shame he won’t read or take them on board as he’ll be listening to SPAD’s who’ve never held a proper job or focus groups. We can all sense that much needed change is on its way even if its got to get worse before we achieve our goals.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      I’d go along with that too Mark, but I would add that we in the west are incredibly badly led. If I had my way, I’d get rid of Cameron and Obama before this day was out!

      We, the people, really DO need a whole new deal. We need statesmen who can smooth international relations and make the world at ease with itself, not puppets of Neo-cons who care little for people, just the bottom line of a balance sheet.

      The frustrating thing is, capitalism CAN be a force for good. It can advance the living standards of people right across the board, rather than just for a manipulative elite with an equally manipulative lobby.

      Tad

      Reply That kind of comment is from the luxury of opposition impotence to the whole democratic system. Mr Obama has every right to serve out his four years following his election win. Mr Cameron as the leader of the largest party in the Commons has every right to stay until May 2015. The idea of democracy is to choose a government, let it get on with it, then judge it at the end of its approved period. Of course as we go along there should be plenty of criticism, encouragement, argument, but you can’t simply get rid of elected leaders every time one does something you don’t like. Much of the time you have to negotiate, persuade, argue with them.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply: I don’t think that Tad Davidson condones forced removal of Cameron or Obama. There have, after all, been a number of democratic removals of leaders before their terms of office have expired in this country.

        Reply Probably not. Leaders also have the right to lead for a bit whilst they have a mandate.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

          Nine years of Cameron as Tory leader is more than enough, but of course there is no chance of changing that before next May and in any case it is hard to identify a senior Tory who a) would be a better alternative and b) would be allowed to become leader. There are a few whose names could be put forward under a), but none of them would satisfy b) as well.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted December 21, 2014 at 1:00 am | Permalink

            Indeed. It is all very depressing.

        • Timaction
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

          …………..If the people knew the extent that the EU makes the majority of our laws and that Mr Cameron is nothing more than the head of a puppet Government, in a puppet Parliament there would be serious consequences. Just exactly what is he leading? He gets told what to do by Juncker, Merkel and Hollande.

      • DaveM
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        To reply – agreed John, but the way Cameron is running the country is largely against the wishes of the larger part of the population. The Scots and Welsh don’t like him, Labour supporters and UKIP don’t like him, and I’m pretty sure that most of the Con Party, and certainly most of their supporters wish they had someone else in charge. Even a former terrorist is scornful of his abilities as a politician.

        Polls and by-elections can be taken for what they are, but you cannot deny that the way the PM and his cronies have determinedly and arrogantly pursued their deeply unpopular and EU-dictated policies has alienated thousands – if not millions – of your traditional supporters. In addition, he is losing the next election for you; again, popular and publicised stances on immigration, the EU, and England would turn that around tomorrow. Loyalty is an honourable thing, but how can so many Tories be so blindly loyal to a man who is destroying the party’s chances of a majority?

        The criticism, argument and encouragement you mention has been deafening, but it has just been ignored. All the messages sent in the elections we’ve had in the past couple of years have just been shrugged off. Not just by your leader, but by every other party in the EU except UKIP and their counterparts in Europe. We cannot protect leaders with arguments of democracy when we live in a foreign-led unelected dictatorship (which is what it feels like to the people of England).

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

        “Mr Cameron as the leader of the largest party in the Commons has every right to stay until May 2015” – Well no, not really as he was elected to do certain things that he clearly promised to do in his Manifesto but is actively doing the opposite. He just ripped it up and did Clegg’s instead. He has defrauded his supporters.

        It is a bit like you lending you money to a business on condition that it buys a hotel and then finding it has just stolen you money and run off with it all. Or buying a new Laptop in a shop then finding the box contains only mouldy sliced bread.

        • Hope
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

          We did not give him the right to bind himself to the post for five years, he did this without mandate as did gay marriage. Your reply JR is without substance.

          Reply He has a mandate. The combined seats of Lib Dems and Conservatives gave him a majority, backed by 60% vote share in 2010. Parliament passed the 5 year Act.

          • Hope
            Posted December 22, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

            Good twist but incorrect. First, the public did not want a coalition so your stats are void. Secondly, Cameron imposed a five year fixed tem coalition, no one wanted this either. He has not delivered on his m aides to or that of the coalition so in both regards he did not have a mandate from the public which it voted on and he failed to deliver on both. He manipulated your dopy Tory MP s into accepting him changing your party. It has become Clare the country needs more referenda because MPs cannot be trusted to act on what they pledge to the public and do not act in the national interest.

      • zorro
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply – Unless you are the EU/USA undermining the former Ukrainian government….

        zorro

      • Tad Davison
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply:

        I am all for democracy, where it is legitimate. A vote of no confidence would see Cameron replaced with a leader who might actually do what he was elected to do. One who consistently fails or even lies to the people can in no way be considered legitimate. Even a man like Salmond had the decency to resign after he failed to deliver.

        It’s up to the Tories. If they’re comfortable with someone like Cameron, that’s a matter for them, but the acid test will come next May. I think it unlikely that the Tories will have a runaway victory, and for so many people to come to the same conclusion quite independently of each other must tell you something.

        And as far as Obama is concerned, his mantra was ‘Change has come to America’. So where is it?

        Like the much vaunted closure of Guantanamo Bay, it didn’t happen.

        Anybody who says something just to get elected, then cheats the people, deserves to be removed. I find it hard to find anything that singles out Obama for special praise. The Neo-cons have gained even more under his presidency. Some reformer!

        Tad

      • David Price
        Posted December 21, 2014 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        @reply: But no-one chose this coalition government and Mr Cameron certainly wasn’t given a mandate to do what he likes independent of the wishes of the voters. For example, I don’t believe a mandate was ever given by the voters for focusing priority on same sex marriage at the expense of other issues that were promised in the 2010 manifesto.

        You have pointed out in a past blog that a consequence of the coalition agreement is that the LibDems have an equal say on matters despite them representing a smaller vote, how is that democratic?

        There is a clear trend in Mr Cameron’s approach, he gives in to the strident minorities while the devil takes the majority, safe in his fixed term agreement. Just like UKIP has messed things up for credible alternatives to the current comfortable parties Mr Cameron has messed things up for the Conservative party.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    I could not agree more.

    As you say:- “Perhaps the best way to tip Russia into a more militaristic foreign policy is to carry on isolating her.” This must surely the true. Once again the EU causes far more harm than good.

    Still, on the positive side, I am sure if it does become more militaristic the new EU army will have lots & lots of 25+ stone soldiers (of all genders, ages & disabilities). They will (of course) have to have expensively modified tanks, transporters, guns, vehicles, helicopters, over size medical back up facilities, airplanes, parachutes, uniforms, boats, body armour, breathing kits, extra food rations and the likes. This to comply with their latest equality, disability and gender laws. All equipment will doubtless have to use renewable energy and emit no c02 nor particulate pollution. Officers will also have to keep endless records as they are fighting, this to demonstrate the how non judgemental and fair they have been to all their staff – to (perhaps) avoid being sued by the Human Rights Lawyers for years on end.

    So we are fairly certain to lose.

  4. Gary
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    long before Russia annexed the Crimes, the USA was agitating in the Ukraine:

    “The frustration of the Obama
    administration at Europe’s hesitant
    policy over the pro-democracy
    protests in Ukraine has been laid bare
    in a leaked phone conversation
    between two senior US officials, one
    of whom(Victoria Nuland) declares: “F**k the EU”. ”

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/06/us-ukraine-russia-eu-victoria-nuland

    Low oil prices are hurting the now marginal producer North Sea Oil and frackers far more than Russia. Fracking bonds are junk. Russia has 20% debt to gdp and a trade surplus. The west has over 100% debt(govt) to gdp and vast trade deficits. Russia’s citizens, unburdened by mortgage debt, are almost debt free. The west is debt sodden.

    The west covets Russia, the richest natural resource country in the world.

    • Mitchel
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      I’m totally with you.It’s the neocon dream to break Russia up;the EU getting west of the Urals (ie most of the population) and the US a protectorate over East of the Urals (ie most of the resources),although it is almost certain China would act forcibly to prevent the latter and the likely consequences of that do not bear thinking about.

      • Michael Adams
        Posted December 21, 2014 at 3:56 am | Permalink

        Interesting comment. Perhaps you are unaware that the US is a commercial empire, not a tributary one? Our wealth is in trade, not theft. Yes, I realize that socialists, following the Marxist line in spite of all evidence against it, have assured us that we went to war, for example, to get Iraqi oil. The oil was sold in the world wide auction, and Chinese companies got most of it. We had strategic reasons for fighting, namely that allowing Saddam to control the Persian Gulf would block us from trading with the other countries around that body of water. We entered WWII because the Germans were interfering with shipping. The Japanese attacked us in 1941, because we stood in the way of THEIR tributary conquest in the Far East. When we had driven back the Japanese, we even made the Phillipines a fully independent republic, something which they would have never become, under the Spanish. We conquered Japan, and occupied it, to prevent their rising again as an imperial power, and, soon, to keep the Russians and Chinese out. Did we loot Japan, stripping treasure and tribute from them? Did we round up Japanese women for forced prostitution in the US, as the Japanese did to Korean women? Of course not. Did we seize part of Germany’s grain harvest, as the Germans did to the French? Don’;t be ridiculous! Saudi oil? It costs them less than ten bucks a barrel to pump it out of the ground. It is sold on the world market. We pay the price set in that market.I understand that this runs counter to the emotion-laden propaganda flowing through every source, but there is just no evidence of a transfer of wealth from any country to the US..We are accused of “exploiting” fruit producers in Central America..So, what would their fruit be worth if we did not buy it? The great complaint of the Cubans is that we do NOT trade with them. I guess you just can’t please some people.

        • Mitchel
          Posted December 22, 2014 at 10:24 am | Permalink

          Today’s USA is rather different from 1945’s model I would suggest.I used to be an Atlanticist but my views have changed hugely over the past 10-15 years.

          • Tad Davison
            Posted December 22, 2014 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

            That goes for me too.

            I never quite know where to start with those from the US who wear rose-tinted spectacles. It is hard to know what myths and propaganda they’ve been subjected to. Maybe they should choose impartial sources and take a closer look at the US Federal Reserve, who runs it, and who profits by it. Then I suggest they move on to the big US corporations to whom the US supreme court gave equal status against the wishes of the founding fathers. It could be worth their while to see how much the US spends on defence, and how much of that budget cannot be accounted for. Then maybe they should ask questions about the militarisation of the US police, and why civil liberties have been so heavily curtailed in the land of the free. Perhaps another good place to study would be the sinking of the Maine, or the USS Maddox to create false pretexts for war (I’d like to mention another instance, but our host consistently denies that to me). And I haven’t even touched on the illegal wars, or the support for one particular nation that flagrantly and routinely disregards international law.

            Just follow the rot from there on out without of course, paying too much attention to the slant given by the likes of CNN or Fox News. The freedom of the press is mentioned in the US Constitution, yet the US press is now far worse and far less free than anything one would expect even from a former soviet satellite state.

            The US has a lot of enemies, but they are largely of their own making. It is the hapless, subjugated, but otherwise decent US citizens I feel sorry for and have an affinity with. The place has been hijacked, yet some refuse to see the massive volume of evidence right before their very eyes.

            Tad

  5. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Mr Gorbachev stated most of what you identify above last night on RT (Sophie & Co). He added that the USA has a deep need to re-create a Cold War. It still needs to control most everything globally.

    Merkel follows Obama and the EU is instructed by her. NATO and the UN need to be controlled….severely reigned in.

    Russia will respond badly at some point I think…along with most everything else, we don’t need it.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      I agree Colin. I saw the interview too. The former soviet leader also said that the bases the US had in his time were like nothing compared to the numbers they have now. They stir up trouble all over the place, then use the subsequent instability to extend their reach, and justify massive spending on ‘defence’ which benefits the big corporations despite the question of whether or not the heavily indebted US economy can actually afford it.

      The US’ global expansionism is so stark, I am astounded more people cannot see it for what it is. But then, if they depend solely upon the likes of the neo-liberal BBC for their information, they are unlikely to get the bigger picture.

      Tad

  6. Ian wragg
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    What did CMD say ….. an EU to the Urals. Does he even know where they are geographical? The EU and Baroness whats her face are primarily responsible for the Ukraine debacle
    Poke the bear and it will bite you.

  7. agricola
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    You put the case for an accommodation between Russia and the West very well. The blundering of the EU has not helped in any way. Why the EU has ambitions for a foreign policy when they cannot even sort out their own internal problems I know not. They have aspirations to a grandeur they lack the means to deliver.

    The UK is part of the real powerbase which is the USA and NATO. The EU just fancies itself but has no substance. I would have thought that our own Foreign Office is better able to open up a dialogue with Russia because they have the experience. It is in both sides interest to reach an agreement and we the UK could be instrumental in bringing it about. I would like Cameron to invite Putin to Chequers for a friendly relaxed weekend discussion to reach an agreement on how matters are resolved. Russia is in a hole at the moment so the lifting of financial sanctions in exchange for standing back from Ukraine would be of benefit to all.

    It would allow Russia, the USA, UK and EU to work out a strategy for dealing with the real threat and combat militant Islam Worldwide. It is best done together than piecemeal. Each major war is different from the last. Coming to realise the differences is the first step to winning. If you do not believe me look back historically. Militant Islam is war to a different pattern. The scale of it suggests to me that it is WW3 and we have not as yet realised it. It is essential therefore that all powers in the western world are onside, and in this I include Russia.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      There’s another aspect to this which seems to escape many commentators – oil.

      The US fracking industry has made huge quantities of the stuff available. Even so, at the current rate of depletion, the US reserves will run out long before those of the Russian Federation.

      The US won’t allow themselves to be subservient to another nation, but they go about foreign policy in the wrong way. It matters not to them if millions of innocent people get killed along the way, just as long as those at the top can keep creaming it off.

      It would be better if Russia were brought into the fold as an equal, but I will tell everybody here and now, for that to happen, there needs to be wholesale changes in the United States itself because of the appalling mind-set of those who presently run it.

      Our host consistently stops me from using the most appropriate word to describe the US state, so let’s try to do it by a process of elimination. It’s not communist, it’s not a true democracy, and it’s not a monarchy. etc ed
      Tad Davison

      Cambridge

      • Tad Davison
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        So why not call a spade a spade John? What are you afraid of?

    • mitchel
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      Re a putative invitation to Chequers.Most unlikely!

      The relationship between Cameron and Putin was toxic long before Crimea/Ukraine due to Syria and Cameron’s lecturing of Putin on gay rights;think back to the (G8?) summits in Northern Ireland and St Petersburg and the disparaging comment from the Russians emanating from the latter that the UK was just an unimportant island off the coast of Europe that nobody listened to.

  8. Peter Van Leeuwen
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Russia’s concerns are about NATO and US, not the EU. It is just that Nato and the US have a lot of leverage over the EU. The EU’s role should be to engage in dialogue with Russia and search for win-win solutions.

    • ian wragg
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      So it wasn’t Baroness Ashton and the EU who got rid of a democratically elected Ukrainian President. Must be my laptop playing up.
      I could have sworn the EU had a document for closer co-operation with Ukraine to the detriment of Russia. Then again I’m not an EU troll.

      • Peter Van Leeuwen
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        @ian wragg: You obviously do need a new laptop, a better memory, or better newsmedia. Even on Feb 21st Yanukovych signed an EU brokered compromise with his opposition, before the people in the street threw him out shortly after. For the anti-EU press it may be difficult to comprehend that there are countries which wish to have an association agreement with the EU, but for all intents and purposes the UK may become such a country, once it will have left the EU.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Yes, it’s terrible how the poor little EU is pushed around the nasty big US and made to do things that it doesn’t want to do. The obvious solution is for the EU to get its own powerful, nuclear equipped, armed forces under its own control, so that it could then provide both the military defence and the civil administration for its new acquisitions without having to rely on the US to secure the territory before the EU moved in to provide the government.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        Yes, the last powerful (European? ) army was the Waffen SS which recruited and then conscripted vast numbers of western and eastern Europeans into its various divisions. Many Dutch volunteered to join up. The Russians have long memories.

        Reply There were also many Europeans at the time fighting or opposed to the German regime.

        • Max Dunbar
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

          Agree with your edit (European?).
          The question of allegiances of the various factions within countries such as, for example, western Poland in 1939 and north east Italy in 1945, not to mention the French Colonies in Africa and Syria is very interesting.

        • Mitchel
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

          @Max Dunbar,to be fair the reasons that (certain) East Europeans joined the Germans in the invasion of the Soviet Union in WWII are more complex than you suggest ;for instance,there were a large number of displaced White Russians,particularly Cossacks,who believed that with the help of the Nazis they could get rid of the Reds;in this respect,for them, it was a continuation of the Russian Civil War.

          • Max Dunbar
            Posted December 20, 2014 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

            Yes, the Cossacks and General Vlasov’s Army are probably the best known of the Russian units which went over to the German side during the course of the war. It is also worth bearing in mind that countless thousands of ordinary Russian POWs assisted the Germans voluntarily as non-combatants on the front lines in a wide variety of roles.
            In the opinion of seasoned combat veterans of the German Army, the Russians had the toughest soldiers and the best tanks and small arms.

      • Peter Van Leeuwen
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        @Denis Cooper: Your satire is interesting, but for me the EU started as a project for peace (before you were born) and it should remain focused on non-military approaches. I realise I may be on the losing end here (you’re not the only loser with regard to what you want for the EU Denis) but I’m not yet about to give up.

        • DaveM
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

          Yes it did start as a project for peace – a peace which this country paid dearly for in spite of the fact that we never started it.

          We died in our tens of thousands and it finished our empire off (much to the delight of the Americans) in order to stop aggressive German expansionism in to Poland, Czecho, etc, and to prevent a capitulated France being permanently annexed as part of greater Germany.

          Maybe, Peter, that’s why we in the UK have such a major problem with those countries dictating to us now!!!

          • Peter Van Leeuwen
            Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

            @DaveM: Well Dave, you obviously didn’t die, although in your formulation you seem to claim credit for it. One could respond that wikipedia shows that 30x more Russian soldiers have given their life for my freedom (toppling Hitler) than British soldiers, but does that mean that I now have to bow for Mr Putin?
            It is all rather besides the point. I can well appreciate that the UK had a different recent history and doesn’t understand what was forged on the continent after WWII in terms of cooperation on the shameful heaps of mutual destruction. It is not about dictating one another, it is about forging cooperation.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

          I see that your freedom-loving government is having another go at prosecuting Geert Wilders to try to shut him up.

          • Peter Van Leeuwen
            Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: When some one rallies a crowd (and on live TV) by exclaming “do you want more Moroccans or fewer Moroccans in the the Netherlands? ”,(words left out ed) which one could argue is like inciting hate. So that will be tested in court, after 5000 indivuals reported it to the Dutch police.
            The Netherlands has a far stricter separation of powers (trias politica) than Britain and the Dutch government has absolutely nothing to do with the prosecution nor the courts. The government will not like this process at all, as it will give Geert Wilders a lot of media attention, see, even you heard about it.
            Just be happy that your Nigel Farage had the good sense of not wanting to join with Wilders.

        • Timaction
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

          Peter,
          NATO provided the peace NOT the EU.
          The EU is a political construct to create a United States of Europe. This was hidden from the British people and can be read and confirmed by the now released FCO briefing paper 30/1048 of 1971. The British people were sold the Common Market on a promise that there would be NO loss of sovereignty or democracy. Absolute lies and treason.
          Yet now we now know that successive British legacy parties have introduced the EU dictatorship by incremental stealthy treaty change!
          We don’t have to be in the EU to trade with it. China, USA, Japan and most of the world don’t! We have an £11 billion annual net charge to build foreign infrastructure and subsidise foreign farmers for a £40 trade deficit.
          We could build and fund a lot of public services with our EU contribution as well as being able to secure our borders and stop the mass migration causing huge problems here.

          • Peter Van Leeuwen
            Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

            An alliance against external aggression is not forging peace, it is at best common deterrence. The EU cannot be held responsible for information between UK governments and its people.

    • Bert Young
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      PvL , your comment is not true . The EU and the USA both made promises of support to the Ukraine . Shortly after the visits of Warsi and the US Secretary of State to Kiev , the IMF also made loan facilities available to stave off the threat of Russia cutting off fuel supplies to the Ukraine – this move was obviously prompted by the USA . The EU and the USA were seriously flawed in their moves – the USA has no place in Europe and the EU no mandate .

      The very well put blog this morning highlights the need for co-existence and dialogue with Russia ; the world is too small a place for any of the major players to be at loggerheads . Putin is a difficult man and Obama and the West have no strong figure equal to him ; this does not mean there cannot be a way of dealing with him . As our host points out – isolation is not the way forward . Certainly the EU is in no position to flex muscles it does not have or to represent itself as a model of co-existence .

      • Peter Van Leeuwen
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        @Bert Young: Look at Finland and you already have a model of peaceful EU co-existence with Russia!
        The EU has no muscles to flex nor should it want to, but it does offer, so far, the best model for co-existence with Russia. If we can trust Russia, then maybe the EU members Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia should not be Nato members but neutral, like Finland. That trust is lacking, and maybe for good reasons, but it is their Nato membership, not their EU membership that irks Russia.

        • Max Dunbar
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

          ‘If we can trust Russia’.
          Are you not being rather naïve? No we cannot trust Russia and the people of the Baltic States know from their experience of Russian invasion and brutal treatment in 1940 that Russia is to be feared. Russia is also unpredictable, especially when under pressure as at present.
          Finland is different. They fought Russia, achieved an initial tactical victory in 1939, and then lost, being forced to cede territory to the Soviets but they were never occupied as such. Marshall Mannerheim, their leader at the time, had been an officer in the Imperial Russian Army. He saved Finland from a communist attempt to seize power in the aftermath of WW1.

          • Peter Van Leeuwen
            Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

            @Max Dunbar: Of course the Baltic states (and thus the EU) have many reasons not to trust Russia! Finland is different and shows that, in principle, it ought to be possible to have peaceful co-existence with Russia.

        • DaveM
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

          And I can say from first hand experience that the membership of the Baltic states is very much to their advantage!! Sounds like just another situation where the UK/US picks up the bill eh?

          • Peter Van Leeuwen
            Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

            @DaveM: the economic bill is picked up by all the EU and the Baltic states themselves, the UK constituting a small part of the EU for the time being.

        • Tad Davison
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

          Peter,

          You pose the question, ‘if we can trust Russia’. After this wholly engineered fiasco, will Russia ever trust us?

          Personally, having seen the lengths to which the west including the EU, will go to undermine Russia, I think the latter would be right to keep us at arm’s length and treat anything he west does with the greatest suspicion for a very long time.

          If we had real statesmen in charge in the EU and the UK instead of carpet-baggers, we could have brought Russia into the fold as a friend and ally, and with it, energy security from here on out. That would have led to mutual prosperity, and boy does the EU need prosperity in a big dose right now! Some countries within it are close to being failed states.

          As an illustration of the depth of the west’s underhanded shenanigans towards Russia, please see the second half of RT’s Kieser Report episode 695 and the interview with Konstantin Gurdgiev. It’s a real eye-opener.

          Tad

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted December 22, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

            @Tad Davison: I would agree with you that the West hasn’t sufficiently tried to make Russia a partner rather than a foe. And now we’re paying for it.

      • mitchel
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        Would that we had such a “difficult” man at the helm,staving off attempts to dissolve our nation state!

    • Mark B
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Your statement really rather drives a coach and horses through the whole EU argument of; “Stronger together.”

      What is the point in being 1/28th of one say, when you can have an independent and equally strong and valid say on your own ?

    • forthurst
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      “Russia’s concerns are about NATO and US, not the EU.”

      Peter, we would expect you to absolve the EU, in any case, but the EU is indistinguishable from NATO, headquartered in Belgium also, which is why there is almost complete overlap between the two organisations and their Eastward push to the Urals and into Russia’s backyard as well as the desire to include Turkey in both organisations.

      It is perfectly true that some individual EU states are opposed to the damage that the US is inflicting on Europe, forcing it further into recession by their economic sanctions, damaging the itself not one whit; however, it is the EU’s foreign policy projected through such luminaries as Baroness Ashton that has been interfering directly in Ukraine and giving aid and comfort to the illegitimate regime in Kiev. The EU is almost as much a stumbling block to achieving a lasting peace between Russia and the rest of Europe as the congenital neocon troublemakers driving US foreign policy both in Europe and everywhere else.

      The only way to counter the threat to world peace posed by the neocon gang is for the UK, Germany and Russia to agree individually to mutual trade and friendship, which means the cleansing of our own governments of neocon lovers like David Cameron whose desire to implicate us in illegal invasions already includes the destruction of the Libyan state, an aborted attempt to achieve the same in Syria and his absurd sabre-rattling against Vladimir Putin, a man whom the F1 entrepreneur and sage, Bernie Ecclestone, has described as “a first class person” and further “It would be very nice to have him running Europe.”

      • Peter Van Leeuwen
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        @forthurst: Interesting that you call the Ukraine government an
        illegitimate regime. It is not the first time in history that a grassroot movement got rid of a leader (and what a leader it was, judging his living quarters). The current president was rather overwhelmingly elected in all free areas of the country where elections were possible, and it is also supported by a parliament which was the result of free and fair elections, according to the international observers. You might be a little too blinded by Mr Putin.

        Reply The problem is the parts of the country where free elections were not possible, where people feel wronged.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

          Reply to reply: I agree. The EU should also reach out to the people over there – why should humanitarian aid be left to Russia? Pressure on the Ukraine government to advance peace talks might help. At the same time I agree with measures like the EU Council decision to isolate Crimea.

        • Tad Davison
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

          Reply to reply:

          Just an observation, but I supported the re-taking of the Falklands to protect the ethnic British population. It seems to me that Russia does have a case for doing pretty much the same thing in Eastern Ukraine, and in Crimea for much the same reason.

          In both cases, a recent referendum indicated how the local people wanted to be governed and by whom. I wonder if Mr Cameron and his mates in Brussels ever considered that parallel?

          Tad

    • stred
      Posted December 22, 2014 at 5:17 am | Permalink

      The Secretary General of NATO has been chosen from ex- EU Prime Ministers since the 1950s. Most have been EU educated and EU Council. Often fans of Blair and in favour of foreign interventions.

  9. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Wise words indeed; but beyond convincing Cameron to abandon his publicly stated concept of the EU stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals, and of course including Turkey on the southern shore of the Black Sea as well as Ukraine on the northern, you would need to get Merkel to abandon her policy of encouraging and supporting the pro-EU factions in Ukraine and elsewhere.

    Of course if the British people had a direct say on whether to extend EU membership to Ukraine and Turkey and a raft of other countries across the Caucasus to the Caspian Sea and beyond, as well as to the rest of the Balkans as is already being negotiated, then it is unlikely that they would agree to any of them joining the EU while the UK remained a member; but Hague has done his best to make sure that we will continue to be denied any such referendum through fine print in his “referendum lock” law.

    Arguably if Hague had not written a blanket exemption for accession treaties into the Act then just the knowledge that by law the British people would be able to veto each and every proposed enlargement of the EU could have significantly changed the course of events for the better; there would have been little point in holding out promises of EU membership to pro-EU factions, and stirring up trouble, if it was pretty clear from the start that whatever British politicians thought about it the British people would prevent that plan coming to fruition.

  10. anon1
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Agree with what you say but you don’t go far enough. The EU have a greater responsibility for the loss of life in the region than you suggest.

  11. brian
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    The Russians under Putin cannot be trusted. He wants to take Russia back to what he considers to be the glory days. Any sign of weakness by the West will be exploited by Putin.

    • Bazman
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      It’s all about money not glory days. First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the money. Is it to simple for all of you?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      I think that maybe some in the West made the mistake of assuming that future Russian leaders would be as weak as Yelstin, and perhaps they even envisaged that the next natural step after the break up of the USSR would be the break up of Russia itself, and thought that there was a window of opportunity to accomplish that strategic aim. The Ural Mountains seem to have been a preferred dividing line to split Russia in two, at least that is the clear implication of Cameron’s stated vision of the EU stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals, assuming that he knew where they are located.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        The Ural Mountains were also the ‘stated vision’ of the Germans in 1941. They even named one of their strategic bomber projects after this mountain range.

      • DaveM
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Another example of political fools nowadays thinking they can break up and change countries that have been around longer than they themselves have. Sounds familiar?

        And interestingly, those conspiracy theorists who think that dilution of native ethnic demography and traditional culture will make a country easier to dismantle should consider that the native ethnic Russians have made up less than 50% of that country’s population for some considerable time.

        I find it hard to believe that the EU fools are trying to face up to the might of the Russian political machine. The Russians must be thinking this is the easiest challenge they’ve faced for centuries, particularly with that abject failure Obama in the White House.

    • The PrangWizard
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Is it not called ‘national pride’? Do you not think every nation is entitled to it? The West’s hands are dirty when it comes to Ukraine. It is only when one nation insults another or assumes it is more ‘equal’ than another that trouble starts.

      Here we have the US seemingly wishing to topple Putin using economic warfare, although they may recently have seen the error of their ways, with the EU in on it. Russia and Putin don’t like it, nor should they.

      We should reopen dialogue, it is surely in our best interests. Our misguided PM loves to talk big, but being ‘all bark, and no dog’, does no-one any good. If he wishes do something to defend the UK, England in particular, he should act against Russian criminals here, including the ones with vast sums of money; trouble is I think he likes their money too much.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

      Who says, the BBC?

  12. acorn
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    “Obama admits that 50 years of sanctions and attempts to isolate a small island right off the coast of Florida has not worked. And then he announces that he will impose more sanctions on Russia, the biggest country on the planet, and that he will isolate Russia, even though Russia now has full access to the biggest economy on the planet?! Is that not the height of stupidity and self-delusion?” (HT Mike Norman).

    Or it may have something to do with the South American part of the OAS, wanting Cuba in the club, or they are not playing anymore. Meanwhile, the EU wants to play with the big boys and also sanction Russia. Well we know the EU is stupid and self-delusional by design.

    Anyway, Putin has a problem with his Oligarchy, they run their empires as an extension of the US Dollar area and Putin struggles daily to get control. Until Putin gets the power to start taxing, in Roubles, all those US Dollar accounts in Russian banks and taxing all those oil and gas pipelines in Roubles, the Rouble will just be a mickey mouse currency that nobody, who doesn’t pay Russian tax, will ever need to get.

    Obama is on the rundown with a hostile congress (which is also increasingly stupid and self delusional), and the next presidential candidates will be slithering out of the grass soon. You have to wonder why the fifty States don’t form a new confederacy and rethink the whole concept of what a federal style government should be and what limited things it should do. What can you say about the EU except, probably best if we just started again and all keep their own currencies for at least the rest of the century.

    Putin can bide his time in Ukraine (Donbass and Crimea) dispute. It will time out to a Russian win as the EU and the USA increasingly become self obsessed with their internal fractionalism.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      ‘ the next presidential candidates will be slithering out of the grass soon.’

      Yes, and it looks like it’ll either be another Bush, or another Clinton. Both dynasties have been a disaster for the US.

      The Neo-cons have effectively created a one-party state where there is little for the hapless US citizen to choose from. As such, they are under-represented. The ruling elite call it capitalism, but that’s not how I see it. True capitalism works for the people and rewards initiative and industry. It doesn’t work to ensure only a few get the perks whilst other enterprising folk are put at a disadvantage. Such a system will ultimately self-destruct, and it won’t come a minute too soon for me, but the immediate dangers of it are truly massive.

      Tad

      • zorro
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        More a form of oligarchical collectivism with the party replaced by big business interests….

        zorro

  13. Atlas
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    You just need to look at a pre First World War map to realise just how much border shifting there has been since – and it is this border shifting that is behind a lot of the strains in the present world.

    Interestingly Russia says it wants its historic Ukraine back – yet I wonder how it would react if Germany said it wants its historic Koenigberg (which is part of Russia now) back?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      I expect the Russians would just say the modern equivalent of “Vae victis”, “Woe to the conquered”, made famous when the ancient Romans had to pay the army of the Gauls to vacate Rome and complained that the Gauls were cheating on the weights being used to measure out the gold.

    • mitchel
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      There are no significant numbers of ethnic Germans in Kaliningrad(that was Koenigsberg)now;the border shifts in Eastern Europe just before and just after WWII were accompanied by wholesale ethnic cleansing,as we would call it now,and re-population,in this case, by ethnic Russians.Even the Baltic Germans who had been loyal servants of the Tsars for centuries were removed.

      • Atlas
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

        Agreed Mitchel.

        Stalin did a lot of ethnic cleansing – one could suggest that Hitler was not the only baddie in the Second World War…

        It is worth noting that Russia has been attacked from Western Europe a few times over the centuries, hence it has a long memory and is twitchy about its neighbours.

        It’s a pity that Russia was not asked to join NATO in the ’90s so its fears about the West could have been laid to rest. I suspect it is Russia’s Eastern borders (long and sparsely populated) that worry it still.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Good point Atlas.
      However, we never hear the end of the ‘occupied West Bank’ saga despite the fact that the Israelis won the land almost 50 years ago in the same way that the Communists did in Eastern Europe just 20 years earlier?

  14. Colin Hart
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    A good post except for the constant references to what EU policy should be. Surely the very fact of a common EU foreign policy is part of the problem?

    Reply Yes of course, but even with the UK out they will press on with a foreign policy.

    • Ian wragg
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Quite. But without our contribution and nuclear deterrent they may wind their necks in

  15. lojolondon
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I see the situation in Ukraine as entirely caused by EU going out of their way to provoke Russia – Ukraine is Russia’s closest neighbour, and most strategic oil pipelines run through Ukraine. So the EU wanted to control Russia’s trade, and turn their closest neighbour. Putin responded, as every sensible ruler would. The Biased media is spinning the whole story in the US/EU direction. I agree isolating Russia is a big, big mistake, they will turn to the far East and the world will be split in two – a disastrous situation. All caused by the unelected handful of power-crazy fools running the EUSSR.

  16. DaveM
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I can’t help thinking that the whole business has been brought about by the EU’s naive econo-politicians fumbling about and trying to implement a foreign policy to try to make itself look like a united state on the international stage. I wonder how much involvement they’d have had if the trouble had been on the other side of Europe? They don’t seem hugely concerned by constant incursions on Spanish and Italian borders.

    The EU should also realise that the US has other fish to fry, and that NATO is a US-UK dominated organisation. Anyone knows that you cannot have a foreign policy without means to pursue it, and the EU does not have that.

    They should also be aware that Putin is not a naïve econo-politician, and that the Russians are used to hardship – some of their military are still paid in cabbages and potatoes!! In short, Putin would eat the EU’s politicians (and probably Obama) for breakfast. I wouldn’t mind someone like that in charge of this country sometimes.

    We have to get out of the EU, John – every time I hear those letters my hackles go up!!

  17. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Ukraine/Russia

    If Scotland had achieved absolute independence from the UK. Then, suddenly, the legitimate elected Scottish Government just one year on from its election were overthrown by Scottish soldiers and paramilitaries and a non-elected First Minister imposed. Then, the teaching of English banned in preference to Gaelic and, only Gaelic speakers allowed to occupy any public post whatsoever. Then, announcements that within two years all English speakers would be ineligible to vote and considered non-citizens…well, despite the often lyrical diplomacy of the British Government,and, the no less eloquent and polite manner in which your article is written JR …RAF bombers would flatten Edinburgh without even the possibility of a debate on BBC Question Time. The British Government are not fools.

    A similar scenario but very much more violent involving countless loss of lives would most certainly happen if American citizens in large numbers were similarly threatened in say Mexico and yes the RAF would be called upon to join in by our US Ally.

    Russia has acted with the most astonishing unbelievable restraint given similar actions in the Baltic states upon Russian speakers living there. And Cuban-style but US missile and military bases have been moved up to Russia’s borders.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Visions of Salmond and Sturgeon fighting to the last air-gun pellet whilst holed up in the sandwich bar of the Scottish Parliament.

    • zorro
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Indeed

      zorro

  18. Vanessa
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Well said John. It is a pity our State-owned BBC cannot do a bit of research and realise it was the EU that made the first move in this unsettling situation.

  19. Andyvan
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Firstly Russia hasn’t invaded Ukraine. You can tell that by the fact there still is a separate Ukraine. If Russia seriously wanted to take it over it would be done in hours. The illegal coup instigated by Washington and Brussels is entirely responsible for the troubles, not the Kremlins actions.
    Secondly the west has gone back on all it’s agreements with Russia since the end of the cold war, particularly the one about not extending NATO to their borders.
    Russia is now under continuous attack by propaganda, sanctions and financial warfare. Their tolerance is amazing. If I were Putin I would be sorely tempted to return the eastern part of Ukraine to the Federation, turn the oil and gas taps off and let Europe freeze, use all my foreign currency reserves to buy Roubles and halt debt repayment to western banks. The net result of this would be a massive banking and currency crisis in the west and the destruction of very large parts of the European and American economies.
    All the reassurances in the world must mean nothing if you are a Russian, look how many promises we’ve broken already. The EU will do what it’s told by Washington anyway so why should anybody believe a single word from the puppets in Europe?
    And another question- why should China, the most populous country on the planet not have its own exclusive sphere of influence in the Far East? The incredible arrogance in Washington is going to provoke a war and all our pitiful leaders can do is parrot the same stupid propaganda that we hear on state controlled tv.
    Yes we should immediately remove all sanctions and withdraw all the troops massing in Eastern Europe and the Western Pacific. Stop prodding the bear and the dragon and maybe they might form enough trust to believe we don’t want a war.

    • Bazman
      Posted December 21, 2014 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      You seem to be under the impression Russia is a normal country and not a criminal state. As the price of oil rose and Russian reserves became larger Putin and his cronies became more brazen. Sanctions in the form of personal travel bans confiscation of property the stopping of facilitating money laundering is the way forward not appeasement.
      This is the real story. Not this poor oppressed Russia nonsense.
      Middle class Russia left long ago the rich are largely scum that got lucky by being in the right place and knowing the right people at the same time allowing the plundering of the state.

  20. Stephen Berry
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    The story so far. In February 2014, the US and the EU aid a coup against the democratically elected government of the Ukraine with the intention of bringing that country into the Western orbit and eventually into NATO. President Yanukovych flees for his life, but his main area of support in the Eastern Ukraine rises in protest at what has happened. The ‘rebel’ people are then attacked and killed by the illegal government in Kiev. Russia takes fright that it will lose it’s main naval base in the area and occupies the Crimea. Finally, there is a stand-off with the West instigating sanctions against Russia and the Russians helping the rebels. Russia is 90 per cent in the right in all this of course, but who is going to win?

    My bet is that the Russians will ride this one out, oil price fall and all. What happens on their border is way more important to them than it is to Americans or Western Europeans. Nor should we think that an EU in seemingly perpetual economic crisis has the stomach for a long fight. There is also the small matter that many people and politicians in the UK may not comprehend that a country could exist that does not wish to live as a vassal state of the US and the EU. Russian history suggests otherwise however.

    Looks to me that we have here a foreign policy miscalculation on the same level as our recent Middle East adventures.

  21. Gumpy Goat
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    John how much are the Russians paying you?

    • Tad Davison
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

      I think we may read into your question a note of cynicism and doubt, so I’m curious to know where you get your information from. The biased BBC maybe, or perhaps the sensationalist UK mainstream print media?

      It would seem JR’s better informed than some. Maybe he’s just treating your question with the contempt it deserves.

  22. Alan Wheatley
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    While considering Russia with respect to Ukraine it is as well to remember what happened previously.

    When the West started to get excited about an “Arab spring” in Syria Russia warned that such a policy would not work and could lead to disastrous consequences. Seems to me Russia was correct.

    Before Syria there was Libya, and here too western policy was in conflict with Russian. Libya is hardly and example of a successful western foreign policy.

    And we should remember what happen in Iran when the west turned it back on the Shah, a keen supporter of the west, and allowed him to be overthrown by islamic fundamentalist. Now, as many are keen to remind us, the Shah may not have been the western ideal of democracy but he was magnitudes better for all, including his own people, than what replaced him.

    Less miss-placed idealism and more pragmatism is needed.

  23. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, a rather crazy article in the Irish Independent today:

    http://www.independent.ie/business/world/investment-fund-stakes-wont-hit-eu-deficits-30848234.html

    “European Union governments can safely buy into an EU investment fund without risking punishment for raising their public debt or deficit under the bloc’s fiscal rules, a top European Commission official said yesterday.”

    I expect that Irish taxpayers will be overjoyed that they need not miss out on the fantastic opportunity being offered by the Juncker “European Fund for Strategic Investments”; if the Irish government were to borrow money and use it for capital investment just in Ireland that could lead to EU punishment for running an excessive budget deficit, but happily there will be no such punishment if it borrows money to put into this innovative “loaves and fishes” EU investment scheme to help fellow eurozone states which are still economically depressed.

    It isn’t clear that Ireland could ever get its money back, let alone make a profit, but this is still an opportunity which the Irish government would not want to miss.

  24. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Agree again .The EU sanctions and rebound trade sanctions will only make matters worse.

  25. DaveM
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    OT: I never thought I would ever approve of Salmond interfering in English matters…..

    • DaveM
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      ….but Sturgeon has shown that she has no interest in anything much apart from getting nukes out of Scotland.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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