Russia, Nato and Ukraine

There are some who seem to think we are back in a new cold war. They highlight aggressive actions by Russia. They respond with aggressive words, and with some sanctions. They see NATO as able to limit Russia’s aggression.

They should remember how bad the Cold War was, and remember that in those days the West knew the limits to its power. NATO spent much more of its income on defence, had larger forces than today, but decided it could do nothing about Russian aggression in any part of Eastern Europe. We watched as Russia invaded and subjugated an unhappy Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The NATO defensive umbrella, backed by the formidable nuclear arsenal of the USA, ensured Russian expansion would stop at the East German border.

Today things are not as bad as in the Cold War days. The main countries that wished to leave Russian control have done so. There are many more free states and peoples in Eastern Europe. Russia herself has changed a bit, with more free enterprise. At times Russia wishes to be a more mature power in the world, but in other ways behaves badly towards neighbours. Russia understands the NATO pledge to support all its members, and has concentrated on gaining influence or control in non NATO members close to its borders.

The west rightly condemns aggression to take territory and control people who do not wish to be ruled under Russian influence. The West also rightly has not made the position of people in East Ukraine or Georgia worse by intervening in the local wars. The aim of Western policy should be by diplomacy and economic action to limit Russian expansion, without wanting to extend the EU and NATO in turn. I see no reason to extend a NATO guarantee wider than has already been granted, and no need to expand the EU ever eastwards.

All those who currently enjoy the NATO umbrella should also be expected to spend more of their money on maintaining good defences at home. The UK and US are the only two NATO countries to presently meet all the requirements on a NATO state. Those who want our protection should also spend 2% of national income on defence, and spend 20% of their defence budget on equipment.

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60 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Well the UK may well spend 2% on defence (which I support) but if they spend it as badly as they clearly do on pointless aircraft carriers, far too many generals and brigadiers and endless other appalling procurement decisions it is probably worth less than one could acquire for half the money.

    Then if our halfwitted politicians enter counter productive wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, & Libya then this too wastes the defence expenditure and causes active damage.

    Perhaps the best thing we could do for the defence of the nation would be a abolition of state funding for the many faith schools and this would actually save money.

    Price is what you pay and value is what you get. We may pay 2%, but all things considered (particularly the counter productive wars and appalling procurement) the value we get is perhaps a net negative.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    So will Osborne break with his tradition today and finally get some real vision and optimism going in order to help the country avoid having to suffer Miliband and Labour?

    The Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests that tax changes introduced under the coalition Government have increased the total amount paid by £16.4 billion a year plus, of course, the huge deficit which is just deferred taxation.

    You can only do this if you control government waste, pointless and damaging expenditure but almost nothing has been done to tackle this. The government still fund white elephant wind farms, pv panels, electric cars and endless other absurd and often even damaging things – that distract the private sector from sensible & productive activities.

  3. stred
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    The line portrayed in the MSM and constantly repeated by the Washington elite and their followers in Europe is that the populations of Eastern Ukraine and Crimea did not wish or vote to have a separate federal region or leave and re-join Russia respectively. The referenda were carried out in difficult circumstances but appeared to be far more in favour than the one held in Scotland. One way to settle the matter would be for the EU to fund second referenda in a way to their liking and then agree to stop the sanctions and guarantee to stop their expansionist policies, including NATO moving into Ukraine and the other ‘spearhead’ areas next to Russia. In return Russia should agree not to move into these areas. Does anyone really believe that the Russian areas in the original Ukraine would vote to return?

    As to the claims by Mr Rasmussen, the ex PM of Denmark and Blairite ex NATO chief, that documents in Washington give the lie to the idea that commitments were given to Mr Gorbachev that they would not move into the ex Soviet countries, this seems to be at odds with statements made in the HoC. Who is telling the truth, and how did the documents in Washington come to say something different from what was reported at the time. The Wiki page on the new NATO chief Mr Stoltenberg, ex Labour PM of Norway describes him too as following the Blair line when in government. He also wishes to take his country into the EU and was once in the Workers Youth Party. Then before these two, we had Mr Solana the Spanish politician who was also in their Workers Party. Re Wiki. It seems odd that at a time when the Russians have moved to abandon communism, the West chooses people with a socialist and europhile approach, who admire a man who lied his way into a disastrous war in a country far away.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    A reduction, still further, in the pension cap to £1m fron £1.25 is expected from Osborne according to the Telegraph – yet more pension private sector pension mugging from Osborne. Clearly like Cameron he seems to want to lose. Why on earth announce that now? Dis the pension robber Brown not do enough damage?

    Why will any one invest into a pension if government keep moving the goal posts? The tax defferrments/releifs are often just not worth the investment restrictions and high running costs. Nor the risks of later G Brown style theft.

    • Hope
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Not sure what your point is JR? Cameron following EU foreign policy, reducing military spending when overseas aid enacted in law, to help advance the rationale for an EU army? Cameron wanted the EU to expand to the Urals! He keeps using strong language against Russsia when it was the EU that caused the mess. Presumably the extra billions the UK freely gave to the EU for nothing in return will help fund war mongerers like Junker.

    • Jon
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      It’s also very un settling that this further reduction does not apply to defined benefit pensions in the public sector and MP’s pensions which can well exceed the equivalent £1m value without the punitive tax charge.

      A them and us pension system that is driving a wedge. At least the Chancellor intends it to be index linked from 2018 but is that not penalising the investment industry and freedom to invest in equities rather than bonds.

      I too don’t like the constant change, it rattles confidence. I can see a broadsheet highlighting the different tax treatment of MP’s and public sector to the private sector looming. There was the expenses and this could be another waiting to be exposed.

      Reply MPs pensions are under the same tax rules as anyone else

  5. Old Albion
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    And the EU should not be encouraging countries to defect from Russia’s influence, as it did with Ukraine.

    • Mitchel
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      …and doing so with promises of taxpayers money(or rather money borrowed on behalf of those taxpayers) from the EU’s net contributors.The last thing the EU needs is the likes of Ukraine,Moldova and Bosnia at the trough.

    • Bazman
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      Why should they stay with a corrupt gangster state and don’t tell us the EU is one too?

      • zorro
        Posted March 19, 2015 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

        If the cap fits……

        zorro

        • Bazman
          Posted March 21, 2015 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          What you are dealing with here is blatant lies, fantasy and propaganda by Russia about the Ukraine. Putin’s claims that it has always been part of Russia are for the birds. Crimea has never been Russian. The Russian public has long been encouraged to view Crimea as native Russian land. This has led to widespread acceptance of the idea that the 2014 Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea was somehow justified as an act of ‘historical
          justice’. However, these claims do not match the reality of Crimean history. The 2014 annexation of Crimea was actually the fourth Russian attempt to claim the peninsula in the past 250 years. On each occasion,these efforts have ultimately failed.
          What you have to understand is that the average Russian watches state controlled propaganda TV and believes in any crap they get told, don’t start about the BBC as you are deluded in the comparison. Russia hates the BBC for telling the truth. Many Russians do not even watch TV because of these lies and some believe it to the hilt. They just eat any shit given to them and always have done.
          Wh. Etc ed

  6. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    “I see no reason to extend a NATO guarantee wider than has already been granted, and no need to expand the EU ever eastwards.”

    Personally I rather regret that the NATO guarantee has been extended as far as it has; I ask myself whether I want my country to be at risk of annihilation in a nuclear war to keep the eastern Europeans safe from the Russians, and the answer is “not really”.

    But it was necessary to take those countries into NATO to provide for their military security before the EU could move in to provide the civil administration, and it was relatively easy to do so at that time when Russia was weak under Yeltsin. It has now become an entirely different matter with Putin as a Russian leader who is strong and much more inclined to flex patriotic or nationalistic muscles.

    Just a reminder that NATO membership PRECEDED accession to the EU for all these countries: that is the established pattern, with 22 of the present 28 EU member states having become NATO members BEFORE they became EEC/EC/EU members:

    1949 Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, UK
    1952 Greece
    1955 West Germany (reunited Germany 1990)
    1982 Spain
    1999 Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland
    2004 Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia
    2009 Croatia

    These 4 were declared neutrals before they joined the EEC/EC/EU:

    Ireland, Austria, Sweden and Finland

    Malta had been in the “Non-Aligned Movement” since 1973 but left it in 2004; similarly Cyprus joined that in 1961 but left in 2004, and is still argued over by two longstanding NATO members.

    The reason is quite simple: while the EU is moving towards having its own armed forces under its own control, with the establishment of Eurocorps:

    http://www.eurocorps.org/

    “A Force for the European Union and NATO”, the EU still lacks the military power to defend its new territorial acquisitions and must rely on NATO, including the US, to provide the military security while the EU provides the civilian government, albeit through its local proxies. Hence my references to the EU/NATO/US “troika”.

  7. Ian wragg
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    You really are joking John. The first thing you did was sell off the Harriers which the Americans were delighted at. You cut up the Nimrods and burned the drawings and scrapped half the fleet

    Your records on defence is abysmal.
    By the way yesterday at peak demand of 53 gw wind was contributing 0.41gw or less than 1%. I see the CPS say wind will be the biggest scandal of our times
    We have to pay enormous subsidies to make it viable
    Now we are subsidising coal and gas stations to stop them closing as they are now economic but desperately necessary.
    Only politicians could devise such a stupid energy policy.

    • fedupsouthener
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Ian, never a truer word spoken on wind turbines. I look out over 33 turbines and not one was turning yesterday and none today either. The government is toying with the idea of putting boats out at sea with DIESEL generators on board to compensate for the possible closure of Longannet!!!! That will be good for CO2 emissions. Why close down a coal fired power station or not build a new one but replace it with diesel???? Full blown subsidies thrown at this ridiculous move no doubt. How long before the public actually wake up and realise they have been taken for fools??

    • agricola
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Conservatives in the run up to the election should point out that it was Milliband at the behest of his friends in Brussels who lumbered us with the stupid energy policy you refer to. The situation was then exacerbated by the current coalition government who put the Lib/Dems in charge of energy. It only confirms that CMD is at best an ersatz conservative.

    • Mitchel
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      …and importing much of the coal to fuel those power stations from,er,Russia!

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Ian – UKIP (who’s leader agrees has no chance of forming government) wishes to see increases in defence spending.

      A fairly Conservative aim, one would have thought.

      Yet the Tory Party aim to ‘behead the Ukip snake’ in Thanet.

      What on earth is wrong with returning to more Conservative values in order to win the election, rather than attacking the party that has filled the gap that’s been left in the political vacuum ? So now -as well as being fruitcakes and loons – they are being smeared as snakes; there also seems to be a great media push to make Ukip out to be the new BNP which it isn’t.

      We have to remember that this party has courted disenfranchised Tory supporters – not BNP ones.

      This language is truly offensive and contrasts markedly with the polite language afforded to those who have decided to run off and join a psycophathically murderous organisation such as IS.

      Then there is the filth – the notches on bedposts, sex with vacuum cleaners, fingers up bottoms, all from members of the Tory Party and directed towards Ukip. (Imagine the furore if Ukip had used such language)

      It is clear that Tories dislike their natural voters. And once they abandon the Tory Party they get no respect for choosing peaceful and democratic means via the ballot box to register a desire for change.

      • Mondeo Man
        Posted March 18, 2015 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        Whose – not who’s.

  8. Ian wragg
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    .
    .now uneconomic.

  9. majorfrustration
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Agree no more direct interventions by the UK. Leave Russia to create its own Belfasts

  10. petermartin2001
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Those who want our protection should also spend 2% of national income on defence…

    Of course, in the EZ, the ECB could just create the Euros, to the tune of an extra 2% of GDP for each country, which they would be required to spend on defence.

    What’s the worse that could happen? Extra inflation? There might be a slight problem in Germany, but there’s so much slack in all the other economies that there wouldn’t be any problem at all.

    If there were a real war, that would certainly happen. So what’s the problem with doing that now?

    • Edward2
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      For the same reason drinking seawater if you are shipwrecked and have taken to a life raft is unwise.
      Its tempting and it seems such a quick and handy solution but it leads to disaster.
      Its not Keynesian its Zimbabwian economics.

  11. Vanessa
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    I am truly frightened at this government’s irresponsible attitude to our defence. I watched the Channel 4 Dispatches on defence and was horrified at the cuts and consequences of those cuts.
    Russia is becoming extremely bold in its pushing at the boundaries of sea and air and we have nothing to deter them.
    A tory government is supposed to be populated with people of experience and guts but none of those on the benches have any of this, let along even been alive when Russia was this threatening and it will increase. I would not be at all surprised if Russia becomes a very real problem and we will have trouble keeping them at bay. None of our European “colleagues” (enemies) will be interested in helping and our defence is deplorable.

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      In the Express today we read of Russian ships monitoring our navy off our shores. Recently we had Russian bombers in our airspace and Mr Cameron ‘refusing to dignify those incursions with a response.’

      I don’t think dignity is the thing that is at issue here.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Vanessa,
      You are right to be so concerned.
      You would have thought that, since defending its people is the first priority of a government, they would have safe guarded defence expenditure. But no; they, along with the rest of the legacy parties in Westminster, have made overseas aid the only item of government expenditure which is a legal requirement at 0.7% of GDP. To repeat, no other item of government spending is so enshrined in law.

    • William Gruff
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

      Vanessa:

      … A tory government is supposed to be populated with people of experience and guts but none of those on the benches have any of this …

      They’re awfully pretty though, ain’t they? And those who ain’t tick all the diversity boxes, in just the right way, and that’s what counts, and what people like you don’t understand. People like you will never understand what Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, aka (Google) grasped long ago, and Grooovey Dave – aka Call Me Dave, CMD, Cast Iron Cameron and who knows what else in the privacy of his much photographed kitchen – the former Carlton Television marketing man, understands so well: style trumps substance (or, as a colleague of forty years ago said to me, bullshit baffles brains).

      If bullshit baffles brains what chance have those with brains unbaffled have of convincing those with little if any brain that what they are being fed is bullshit?

      The politics we suffer are the inevitable result of universal adult suffrage. Our host’s forum is not the place to discuss the remedy.

      • Vanessa
        Posted March 19, 2015 at 10:21 am | Permalink

        William – well said ! I despair and think Russia will be running this country in the not too distant future. It would be a real coup for Putin !!
        You are right, the majority in this country admire young, unlined faces and pretty ears with nothing in between. God help us all !
        No wonder education was dumbed down, it suits all those EU puppets in Westminster. Even Boris is now in their pocket and he used to be opposed to the EU. What is it about that place ? Oh, I forgot – POWER !!

      • zorro
        Posted March 19, 2015 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        Bullshit baffles brains…… David Cameron baffles John Redwood?

        zorro

    • zorro
      Posted March 19, 2015 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      Rest assured, there has been and always will be mutual ‘buzzing’….. It is just being reported more for political purposes.

      zorro

  12. oldtimer
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    It is helpful to be reminded that, ultimately, we depended on the Mutually Assured Destruction of the nuclear deterrent during the Cold War years. It is also worth recalling how close that became a reality during the Cuban crisis where, astonishingly as it was later revealed, the Russian general responsible for the Soviet arsenal on the island apparently had delegated responsibility to use it as he saw fit!

    The current generation of politicians, who think it sensible to dispense with the nuclear deterrent, need to go back and study and understand the history of the Cold War more closely. Without NATO protection it could be expected that Russian incursions into the Baltic states would amount to more than just cyber warfare.

  13. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    JR: “I see… no need to expand the EU ever eastwards.”
    Tell that to Cameron who in July 2013 stated :
    “Britain has always supported the widening of the EU.
    Our vision of the EU is that it should be a large trading and co-operating organisation that effectively stretches, as it were, from the Atlantic to the Urals.
    We have a wide vision of Europe and have always encouraged countries that want to join.”
    As for spending 2% of national income on defence, again tell that to your leader who will not commit to this in the future. Meanwhile he and MPs, quite bizarrely, have enshrined overseas aid payments in law, unlike any other form of government spending.
    Most MPs have taken leave of their senses and treat the public like fools.
    You assuage your conscience by daily stating your own views, which more often than not are quite different from those of your party, whilst simultaneously giving succour and support to that same party doing things with which you disagree.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      It’s hard to believe that Cameron could be unaware that something which stretched “from the Atlantic to the Urals” would include the western part of Russia up to those mountains but exclude the eastern part, so “effectively” dividing Russia in two; or don’t they have any maps in No 10?

    • zorro
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      Some may see it as a form of cognitive dissonance, but it can be more favourably called the unending triumph of hope over bitter experience. It must be difficult for John to stay positive when so many open goals are missed….

      zorro

    • Hope
      Posted March 19, 2015 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Excellent points.

  14. Bert Young
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Two points : Our first priority ( and budget matter ) is Defence . I deplore any reduction that leads to a weakening of the capability to defend ourselves ; it leaves us open to all manners of abuse and to less of attention in foreign affairs . Experience shows that those who have military might are more respected .

    Secondly we must create a liaison with Russia to stop this idiotic hate condition . It is true that Putin is a nasty bloke who seems to delight in playing the power stakes game , but Russians by and large are not like that . Margaret did a good job in bringing Gorbachev to the table and creating an atmosphere of conciliation ; Russians responded to this improvement in relations and quickly adapted their economy ; many joint ventures were then brought about . Negotiation and conciliation with Russia is the route to follow ; confrontation will get us nowhere .

    • zorro
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Exactly, bind nations together with cultural and trading links. Good for business too

  15. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Only slightly off-topic:

    “Brussels tells Athens to halt anti-poverty law”

    https://euobserver.com/tickers/128036

    “Today, 09:29

    The European Commission has vetoed a new anti-poverty law set to pass the Greek parliament on Wednesday, reports Channel 4 News, citing an apparent message from Declan Costello, a representative on the European Commission team monitoring Greece. The law would provide free electricity and food stamps for the poorest households.”

    Meanwhile:

    “Tsipras hastens Russia visit amid Greek cash crunch”

    http://www.euractiv.com/sections/euro-finance/tsipras-hastens-russia-visit-amid-greek-cash-crunch-312998

    “Published: 18/03/2015 – 08:54”

    “The Greek government said Tsipras, who was already scheduled to visit Russia in May for its annual Victory Day parade, would now also travel to Moscow on April 8 to see Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

    “Tsipras, a former Communist, has made no secret of seeking closer ties to Russia at a time when Moscow is at loggerheads with the European Union over the conflict in Ukraine.

    A number of Greek officials have openly broached the prospect of Athens turning to Russia or China for financial assistance if loan talks with the EU end in failure.”

    What a mess; Greek democracy neutered, but as a result of the corrupt Greek politicians previously elected by the Greeks getting Greece into a position of complete financial dependency on the EU by blagging their way into the euro so that they could borrow excessively on something like Germany’s credit rating, plus the German politicians previously elected by the Germans knowingly allowing that to happen because it seemed to serve their enduring desire for hegemony to have all EU member states in the euro, a geopolitical goal which has since been openly stated by Merkel, while the UK politicians we elected did nothing to stop this situation developing step by step over three decades, failing to exercise vetoes when they were available, and indeed many of them would have taken us into the euro as well if that had been politically possible.

  16. mickc
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    An excellent and realistic precis of the position.

    Regrettably, it is not one Cameron understands as he persists in making threats to Russia; threats which he is in no position to enforce.

    Whilst he may think they look good in the UK media, the rest of the world must be laughing (insofar as they take any notice at all.).

  17. Peter Stroud
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    But can we trust our next government to spend 2 percent of GDP on defence?

  18. Roy Grainger
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    The goal to spend 2% of GDP on defence is illogical – it is socialist thinking personified. It is like me saying I have a goal to spend 5% of my salary annually on running a car so if my salary goes up I am forced to buy a more expensive car than I need just to meet the target – in this case a proper goal should be for me to own an adequate car and then I spend as much as I need to to meet that goal. It should be the same in the defence sphere – how many troops/planes/ships does NATA want us to have ? We then spend an amount to effectively provide that in the most cost-effective manner – we then have an incentive to look for efficiency savings. Just chucking 2% a year into defence (and foreign aid) induces wasteful ineffective spending.

  19. agricola
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    As you so correctly articulate, the current situation is at the moment a lesser version of what was during the cold war. The game plan then was to stay strong, let it be known that you are strong, but do nothing to annoy Russia unnecessarily.

    In Russia we want a trading partner and amenable neighbour. It is of no help to have a territorial ambitious EU bumbling around under the umbrella of NATO. They are a dangerous embarrassment that lacks the means or the will to pursue an aggressive foreign policy,. as in Ukraine . As with the Euro a few fools in Brussels are trying to run before they can crawl.

  20. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    New IT system for tax returns is it? The SA system works…for me it does. Perhaps I pick the time and day right? Dunno.

    Anyway, if this is another new Gov IT system…can we get it right please and in distinct phases. And no last minute/during execution major changes.

  21. Tad Davison
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    ‘The west rightly condemns aggression to take territory and control people who do not wish to be ruled under Russian influence.’

    The mainly ethnic Russian people of Crimea seemed to want Russia to intervene. They had a referendum to that effect, as things promised to be so much better than in Ukraine. And so it turned out to be, thanks to the foment caused by the US and the EU.

    Let us not forget that the UK re-took the Falkland Islands from the Argentinian invaders to preserve the rights of the inhabitants to remain British if they so wished.

    I carry no brief for Vladimir Putin, but we need to be careful with our criticism of him when our own politicians are often much worse. I dare David Cameron to try to give a speech now from the streets of Libya, telling us what a fantastic achievement Gaddafi’s overthrow was.

    And our domestic news service is abysmal in its accuracy and selectivity. For instance, who apart from foreign news sources has covered the disturbances and hunger strikes in the UK’s detention centres such as Harmondsworth?

    We need to be very careful when we swallow news stories from home-spun sources. We could allow ourselves to be duped into supporting yet another needless, and ultimately fruitless war.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  22. Tony Houghton
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    John,
    Our problem is that our Prime Minister and advisers are too young to remember the type of defence we used to have and politicians like to decide how much they want to spend before carrying out their Strategic defence Reviews! Hence the idiotic situation we have now with two enormous carriers, without aircraft to put on them and not enough ships to protect them!

  23. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Spot on.

  24. English Pensioner
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    I remember from my Latin classes, more than half a century ago, “Si vis pacem, para bellum”.
    “If you want peace, prepare for war”.
    This country has been virtually disarmed by this government; an aircraft carrier without any aircraft, an army at its lowest level since the thirties and an airforce that was hard pressed to find an aircraft to shadow the Russian “Bear” aircraft flying along the English Channel.
    The aim of increasing the reserves has failed because, whilst people are willing to join a genuine reserve, they are not willing to join what is, in effect, a regular army on the cheap, liable to be called to service at any time. As a friend of mine, who was once in the reserve, observed, he didn’t expect to be called to active service short of WW3 breaking out. I believe it was Montgomery who said reserves are there “just in case” and should never have to be used!
    Meanwhile the EU seems very keen on trying to prod the Russian Bear via Ukraine without giving any real thought of the possible consequences, which to me, is yet another reason for getting out of the EU and disassociating ourselves from its actions.

  25. Mitchel
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    When refering to “Russia” pre 1991 would it not be more accurate to call it the Soviet Union/USSR.The political philosophy that guided the country in that dark period since 1917 was not essentially Russian,a number of the leaders were not ethnic Russians(Stalin,most notably) and the Russian people suffered as much as any other ethnic group during that period.

  26. The PrangWizard
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Off topic naturally:
    PM’s questions the PM and Miliband. About the NHS, figures, targets numbers etc. But which nation are they talking about? I thought Health was devolved – I thought there were different calculations for each one.

    No mention that they may be talking only about of England of course.

    We need urgent reform.

  27. Gumpy Goat
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Well that implies we spend 2% of our GDP on defence, so far the government has not made that commitment. I look forward to John pushing the government on that!! Sadly we, for the want of political power vote, have ring fenced everything else to perhaps the detriment of the UK security.

    Think I rather have the Ukraine in the EU than them suffering under the Russian empire with political murders, even worse corruption than now, human rights non existent arbitrary arrest and god help you if you are gay. Another 20 m people to the EU population will add to the EU clout in economic and trade negotiations with China and the USA.

  28. Andyvan
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Yes Russia has changed a bit but America hasn’t. It still starts revolutions, invasions, assasinations and chaos across the planet. Every single intervention by the US and i’s NATO lapdogs has resulted in disaster. The Ukraine is entirely western sponsored and has resulted in massive loss of life and property and is risking nuclear war just to further Washingtons lunatic drive to control the world. NATO needs to go and so do our poodle like leaders.

  29. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Iran – a prospective nuclear power; North Korea – a prospective nuclear power; Russia emboldened by a weak, dithering President Obama; Islamic State’s influence expanding.

    Welcome to the Twilight Zone!

  30. forthurst
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    “At times Russia wishes to be a more mature power in the world, but in other ways behaves badly towards neighbours.”

    Total nonsense. What has been happening is that the neocons, acting through NATO and the EU have been encroaching on Russia’s border territories in order to foment hostility with their neighbour. That is what happened in South Ossetia; that is what has happened in Ukraine. Unfortunately, what has been taking place in Ukraine has been almost entirely the opposite of how it is being portrayed in the MSM.

    A far greater threat to world peace is the neocons plotting their wars and the failure of the MSM to finger what they are up to, but rather to put out specious justifications for their vile warmongering despite the obvious destruction and misery they continue to leave in their tracks, and with the creation of millions of refugees, many of whom head in our direction. Furthermore, there is the real danger that Russia will strike back ruthlessly when its vital national interests are threatened by the armchair strategists ensconced in Washington who think it would be rather fun if they were able to pull the strings throughout the world, North, South, East, and West.

    Putin’s Russia wanted trade and friendship and so did some his neighbours including Germany; however, the idea that the Germans and Russians might find they had more in common with each other than with the neocon warmongering filth in Washington provoked the usual suspects to step in and break up the party before it could get going with a swing.

  31. Bazman
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    You need to write a piece on how The City and Russian oligarchs and the Tories are linked to each other John, but no danger of that is there? Its business as usual whatever the political problems are, living in mutual assured wealth not destruction.
    The government has been talking about showing the Russian people the scale of the theft and who is carrying it out, but that is never going to happen either. Even if it did I can say that the Russians would not believe it or sort of believe it, but would not want to be seen believing it.

    Reply I know of no such links so could not write about it

    • zorro
      Posted March 19, 2015 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Bazman,
      Perhaps you could provide the links with your insider knowledge?

      zorro

      • Bazman
        Posted March 19, 2015 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

        Could you provide a link to your stupidity?

        • Edward2
          Posted March 19, 2015 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

          Thats not a proper reply though is it Baz.
          If you state you are convinced that something is happening and then, when asked to explain, resort to cheap abuse, then one is left thinking your original statement isn’t true.

          • Bazman
            Posted March 20, 2015 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

            Legal answers to common knowledge in the main do not need answering and for that reason I am not elaborating.

  32. Jon
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    To many Russians indoctrinated by a propaganda influenced education system, we in the West readily kill people in every street, kick out our old people to freeze to death outside, don’t provide any healthcare other than to the rich, the troubles in Ukraine were caused by Western soldiers dressed in Russian clothes etc. It’s a badly corrupt place and we should keep a distance, that one isn’t winnable. Just like the Islamic countries, leave them too it.

  33. Gary
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    the United States has 900 military bases around the worl, it spends more on military than the next 9 countries combined (Janes), they have been in more than 20 wars since WWII(Wikipedia). Britain has been at war almost non stop for the last 300 years. And we must worry about the Russians !?

  34. outsider
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood, While I agree your analysis, what you describe looks, feels and smells remarkably like a new Cold War, except that the starting point has changed and the EU, by its deliberate provocation and non-military expansionism, has blunderingly made itself a participant. You imply that Russia has to have a free hand in all the ex-Soviet states that are not members of Nato. But will that be enough for Russian nationalism?
    The situation in Lithuania parallels that in rump Ukraine, with Russia wanting a land corridor to its annexed territory (in this case East Prussia which is having a big military build-up) through a Nato country with strident and disgruntled pro-Russian minorities, bizarrely including ethnic Poles. Lithuania has just re-established conscription, abandoned as an economy measure after the crash.
    As I recall, the Russian military has recently been encroaching on UK air and sea space, presumably as a reminder of our own weakness. Baltic states have been subject to cyber attacks. Russia’s most prominent internal critic of territorial expansionism has just been assassinated.
    In this atmosphere, one thing seems clear. Any country that makes itself dependent on Russian gas for its energy is not not just engaging in trade but making a political/military decision that is the equivalent of standing down several divisions or axing the core of their naval force.

  • 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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