The question of Russia

According to Global Firepower Russia manages to sustain 3794 military aircraft, 20,216 tanks and 63 submarines on the same level of defence spending as the UK. The UK has according to the same source 856 planes, 249 tanks and 11 submarines. The UK economy is twice the size of the Russian one at current exchange rates. Russian wages are lower and a lot of military output comes from state factories which may well subsidise production costs.

These figures reveal why the West takes Russia seriously. It may lack state of the art technology in a lot of its military hardware, and may have problems getting it all operational, but no-one can deny that Russia has a serious military capability able to operate a long way from home if it needs to. It does also have some smart weapons. Russia has allies throughout the Middle East and is seeking to improve relations with China. NATO led by the USA has plenty of firepower of its own to protect its people and member states. The West has recently shown some resolve following the attempted murders in Salisbury. For her part Russia should understand and accept that NATO is a defensive alliance with no wish to extend territory by force of arms.

When intervening in conflict zones in the Middle East Russia and her allies proceed with less concern for collateral damage, less worry about killing non combatants in the anti ISIS war. Russia has taken over as the main outsider defeating Isis, with the West carefully keeping in touch to avoid mistakes in crowded skies over Syria. Russia also has substantial cyber capability, and uses the world media to pursue its policy aims.

Europe continues to welcome large quantities of Russian gas and to carry on trading, despite the obvious political disagreements. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on what NATO as a whole and the UK in particular should be saying and doing about Russian policy.

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115 Comments

  1. Mark B
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts . . . .

    You do, it is you just do not put some up ! 😉

    Look at a map of the world. Look at the size of Russia compared to the UK and the number of countries bordering it. I think you will find that they need a large army and airforce.

    Russia was invited by the Syrian government to fight ISIS. Was NATO ? And what is NATO doing in Iraq and Turkey ?

    Saudi Arabia do not have much concern with the civilian population in Yemen and the UK and others have been silent on this. A blockade that is causing famine. And yet we sell more weapons to this lot !

    If I were you, I’d stay away from defence matters and stick to transport.

    • Mitchel
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Indeed,NATO might have been conceived as a defensive alliance(even though we now know the Soviets had no plans to invade western Europe;Turkey and Iran were the postwar flashpoints)but after the dissolution of the USSR it became an instrument of US foreign policy(driven by neo-cons with an ancestral hate of Russia going back to the late Tsarist era).Perhaps certain people need reminding that the NA in NATO stands for North Atlantic.

      The newly appointed US Secretary of State,Bolton,is on record as saying “All international wars are meaningless attempts to constrain American power”.

      Sadly our power has diminished so greatly that after the translatio imperii to the Americans in the Eastern Med in 1947 and then Suez, the members of our defence establishment have become little more than well remunerated bag carriers for American policy.If you wonder why we get so little materiel for our money it may be due to the cost of all those generals,admirals,air commodores swanning about at liason meetings,the NATO establishment,think tanks pumping reports on what “we” should be doing in Syria,what “we” should be doing in the Arctic,etc.

      • Pragmatist
        Posted March 29, 2018 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

        not not

      • Hope
        Posted March 30, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        Russia was given assurance that when the wall fell there would be no expansion east! Look at what the EU has done to March east to grab land under the protection of NATO. Germany has always sought to land grab from Russia. The EU intervention in the Ukraine was despicable. Overthrowing an elected leader to replace with one of their choice. Sound familiar with Iraq, Lybia and now Syria.

        Putin to be a tracked and monitored. The extreme left is more of a threat to the U.K. With May and her likes walking left in their view to appear modern. May is the centre of her nasty party comments and is very toxic to conservatism. I am fed up with the Russian propaganda to gain public support for their stupid deeds in the world.

    • Tom William
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Actually Russia was inited to fight ALL those opposed to Assad.

    • NickC
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Part of our problem is not only a woefully inept MoD giving poor value for money, but a dreadful FCO with its delusions of “soft power”. We need a bigger military but, paradoxically from our establishment’s POV, we need to interfere in other countries much less. I don’t trust Russia. But then I don’t trust the EU either. And we should remember that the USA doesn’t have friends, it has interests.

    • UMMT
      Posted March 30, 2018 at 2:49 am | Permalink

      Have you seen the size of Russia…with only 130 million people? Russia is interested in a greater population bred at home and it is not interested in thieving other nations resources. John why do you think the UK and US are the good guys? What if we are the world’s evildoers, criminal, lying, thieving warmongers? Are you really so simple as you seem? Did you know that Russia is building and repairing thousands of new churches, that large numbers of Russians became VEGANS over lent and morning prayer was the most searched for site by commuters in Russia? Please let us get over the demonization of Russia which is no longer soviet Russia but Christian Russia. When I was a little girl,some scandinavian friends had been to Russia….Russia is an EVIL nasty country, I said, you should not go there. lrt go of the same mindset I had as a child and remember Today we have Christian Russia, not soviet Russia.

  2. MIke Stallard
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    “with no wish to extend territory by force of arms.”

    If I were a Russian, I should have cheered Putin to the rafters over his annexation of the Ukraine. I should be very concerned about losing Ukraine (an integral part of Russia, always has been). I should have noticed the EU’s Baroness Ashton standing in Kiev during one of the revolutions. I should be proud to be Russian.
    I should be very concerned about Mr Trump who acts often without thinking and who could so easily start world war III.

    Russia is our natural ally because Europe isn’t. My enemy’s enemy is my friend.

    • Robert Betteridge
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      “A bitten dog has a long memory”.
      If I was Russia I would view a Federal Europe, designed around the aspirations of Germany, with very limited democratic accountability and a bellicose history of rabid expansionism with a very jaundiced eye.

      I would ensure I had a good stockpile of both clean and dirty Nuclear weapons, a Chemical and Biological capability and a well exercised military in all conceivable arms including economic. Propaganda & disinformation is cheap.

      The U.S. military have an apposite mantra “Honor the Threat”. I suspect Putin is not unaware of it.

    • Mitchel
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Russia is/was a pragmatic ally in the cause of preventing a single power dominating continental Europe-something we gave up on when joining the European project.It is probably more accurate to say that since Russia burst seriously into the western consciousness in the 18th century when it crushed first Sweden,at the time a great power, and then Poland-Lithuania,we have been opponents and competitors(though,Crimea aside, not actual enemies),starting with the Seven Years War when we backed opposing sides without actually coming to blows and then in the near East over the fate of the declining Ottoman Empire and subsequently-and most famously-in Asia during the Great Game in central Asia,the spheres of influence in Persia and the carve up of a prostrate Chinese Empire.

      It’s ironic that China and Iran are now Russian allies,whereas we have poor to bad relations,given that Russia took far more territory off these two than we ever did!

    • Trumpeteer
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Mr Trump never acts without thinking. Nothing this man says or does is an error even if it looks like one. Farage got the slightly wrong impression of him when he said “Oh he wouldn’t have known who exactly follows him on social media, really.”
      Trump has reasons for even “deplorable” acts. They flush out people he wishes to see a bit more clearly. One shouldn’t underestimate him or take at face value what he says or does.
      North and South Korea are talking. Trump will meet the N. Korean leader. Months ago, Fake News said “He will start a nuclear war!!” Now they say “Trump of course has had nothing, no influence on North Korea..it was others…erm yes someone other..erm”

    • Tom William
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      I wonder whether the people of Georgia, Ukraine, the Baltic republics, Poland, Bulgaria, Rumania, Slovakia to name but a few would agree.

    • Timaction
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      ………..For her part Russia should understand and accept that NATO is a defensive alliance with no wish to extend territory by force of arms…………

      Really? Why isn’t your leader asking the same questions of the EU with their expansionist agenda, threatening the security of Russia via its involvement in bordering Countries like the Ukraine! Also looking to further its expansion with other states on its border that were once under the control of the USSR. No wonder the Russian state feels threatened but it appears beyond the wit or understanding of the current legacy politicos!

    • DaveK
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Substitute Scotland for Ukraine and Faslane for Crimea and then ask what our PM should have done is a question I have posed in such discussions.

      • Woody
        Posted March 31, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        The english parliament would have accepted the will of the Scottish people and just moved Faslane facilties .. and all the money associated with them .. to a location in the uk. And Scotland would lose lots of jobs and money.

  3. Henry Spark
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    I think it is very important that Western democracies maintain and strengthen our co-operative institutions. Any fragmentation in our collective solidarity will put a large smile on Mr Putin’s face

    • Eh?
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      Western democracies? Western democracies? Bless me, we can’t even hold a referendum without the “democratic” opposition trying to invalidate the result.

      • NickC
        Posted March 29, 2018 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        Eh? Indeed.

    • Mitchel
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Bismarck on a visit to Constantinople in the 1870s recorded a conversation with Count Mikhail Ignatiev,the Tsar’s Ambassador to the Sublime Porte(and one of the drivers of the Russian conquest of Central Asia):-

      “The Ottoman Empire is an artichoke whose leaves we will peel off at our leisure,one at a time”

      • Prigger
        Posted March 29, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        Very flowery language for someone who had a one-to-one casually. Anyone would think it had been written afterwards by a overpaid college graduate steeped in Greek poetry.

        • Mitchel
          Posted March 29, 2018 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

          It was Count Ignatiev who said it not Bismarck;I would have thought that was obvious from the sense of it.Bismarck wanted the Russians to concentrate on Asia/Balkans leaving him free rein in Europe.

  4. duncan
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Putin isn’t the threat he’s purported to be. Yes, he needs to be watched, monitored and tracked. Yes, he’s capable of despicable acts of criminality but then Obama’s stoking of revolution in Syria using proxy forces has caused over 650k civilian deaths and the most appalling scenes of brutality and mass suffering. There’s perspective

    NATO is always prepared to counter Russia forces. That will never change. The EU’s expansion eastwards was always going to irk the Russian government who have always suffered from bouts of paranoia and self-doubt. They’re self-isolation is part of their character.

    We must differentiate between the Russian people and the political system under which they must live.

    I am rambling but the real threat to our freedoms and liberties is on our own doorstep. We have an opposition that is as extreme as any opposition in British political history. We have a PM who is reactionary and deeply anti-libertarian. A PM who is not a conservative and a PM who does not embrace freedom of speech and action.

    Yes, Putin must be watched. Yes, Putin must be monitored and his forces be tracked but that’s always been the case with Russia.

    The US is not isolationist and the US-UK-Europe axis is important for our safety. That will continue

    Moreover Russia and Germany are close trading partners. That in itself encourages detente

    Putin allows May to divert attention away from more serious matters domestically and allows her a portrayal of toughness personified but it doesn’t wash. She’s no Thatcher. She’s just another liberal left politician.

    We need a proper conservative to lead our party

  5. A different Simon
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    The West should stop trying to destroy Russia and respect her right to exist .

    It’s no good coming out with weasel statements such as “NATO is a defensive alliance with no wish to extend territory by force of arms.”

    The West has been pursuing economic warfare against Russia for some time and has demonstrated a desire for total global control by conquest if necessary .

    Since the end of WWII , there have been countless examples of fledgling democracies being overthrown by the West and replaced by Western anointed despots who sell their country down the river in return for some personal power and wealth .

    Your statement about the Middle East and Russia proceeding with (even) less concern for collateral damage is insensitive towards the people of Libya and Iraq who the West basically used for target practice .

    • NickC
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      A different Simon, A good analysis.

  6. Richard1
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    These figures do highlight again the question of what on Earth the U.K. does with its defence budget. We have the 4th highest defence budget in the world, as big as Russia’s, yet we constantly hear that the army has to be cut again, the Navy’s ships aren’t seaworthy, and they are tiny in number, and we have just a few dozen operational RAF jets. Where does all the money go?!

    We need to maintain a robust attiude to Russian aggression, whether it’s murdering UK citizens and others living under the Queen’s Peace, threatening and intimidating neighbouring states, or attempting to manipulate news and elections in free countries. We need to get the message through to people in Russia that they are much poorer than they could or should be due to the huge waste on an unnecessarily large military, and due to the theft and corruption of Putin and his cronies. Hopefully change will come.

    The dependence of Europe, especially Germany, on Russian gas, is extremely worrying, including for the U.K. it is essential to get going with fracking and forget greencrap, in order to ensure a robust, cheap and independent energy supply.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      Where does all the money go? Well salaries & pensions, gold braid, pomp and circumstance, sitting duck aircraft carriers without aircraft, a damaging PC recruitment agenda, with adverts and the likes.

      “get going with fracking and forget greencrap” indeed.

      I do not imagine that the Russian forces have much time for concerns over PC drivel & greencrap.

      • Bob
        Posted March 29, 2018 at 8:03 am | Permalink

        “I do not imagine that the Russian forces have much time for concerns over PC drivel & greencrap.”

        Indeeed, I very much doubt they will be lowering their standards of strength and fitness to allow females to join their armed forces.

        In a number of terrorist events recently that women are increasingly being elevated to senior ranks in the uniformed services. I also note that the same services to be falling short of expectations in terms of performance
        The fire service took 2 hours to respond to the Manchester Arena bomb attack. Could these things be connected? Are the commanders reluctant to send ladies into hazardous situations?

        • stred
          Posted March 30, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

          The commander is a woman.

    • Anonymous
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:18 am | Permalink

      A robust attitude to Russian aggression.

      Yes. But not the way we’ve gone about it.

      I’d like to have seen us *accept* their explanation that they didn’t do it and then get to putting our military back together in an obvious way. Announcing some Russian facing defence policy.

      Oh. And to have got fracking too in answer to the control they have over European gas. We should be doing this anyway, for goodness sakes. Tidal generation has just proven to be a failure.

    • Stred
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      EUBC News yesterday had the usual feminist equality spot on the RAF. A rather lovely lady pilot explained how she had found that she had all the right qualities to be a pilot and now she wanted to be a spacewoman. She was shown going on a course for RAF spacepilots with some of them walking around a desert in space suits. This seems odd considering that they can’t afford to buy enough planes for the two sitting duck aircraft carriers.

      Apparently the person who arranged the touchy feely recruitment adverts that were ridiculed has been put in charge of the whole lot. The Russians must be having a laugh.

      • The Big Ear
        Posted March 29, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        From what I hear they have given all Russian service people a picture of our Defence Minister to book up Russian morale.

        • The Big Ear
          Posted March 29, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

          buck

        • stred
          Posted March 30, 2018 at 7:44 am | Permalink

          Frank Spencer.

      • Mitchel
        Posted March 29, 2018 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        A related bone of contention is the July 2015 resolution which Russia (supported by China,the Islamic world and most of Africa and opposed by Britain,France and the USA) succesfully introduced to the UN Human Rights Council concerning traditional family values:-

        “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state”

        Our government voted against that.Mr Putin has pitched himself as the defender of family values internationally which probably counts against him with the “liberals” who seek to turn society upside down rather more than the annexation of Crimea.

    • Timaction
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Greencrap indeed. How does importing 6 million immigrants over the last 10 years help with our CO2 footprint?? Perhaps we need a few more windmills or solar panels whilst removing and decommissioniong coal power stations? Couldn’t run a whelk stall I’m afraid.

    • dennisambler
      Posted March 31, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      When did the Russians murder UK citizens? Manipulating news and elections in free countries? We and the US have done that for many decades. Do you not recognise the serious propaganda disseminated over this Salisbury incident.

      Highly toxic nerve agent applied to their front door handle, then they went for a meal at a restaurant and then for a walk in the park to be publicly viewed. Only one policeman was “contaminated” and recovered. The victims might never recover, then a week later the daughter is recovering.

      Remember Litvinyenko, photos from the hospital bed? Just facebook images with this one, of the pretty daughter. Embassy not allowed access, samples not provided to the Russians.

      It was a week before the hazmat crew moved into Salisbury for effect. A bit like the tanks at Heathrow a few years back. On one news broadcast, a neighbour walked out to give a cup of tea to a policeman not in hazmat gear.

      We are being played and now the media has forgotten the dreadful concessions on Brexit made by Theresa May. The orchestrated “solidarity” is farcical, Trump can now say he is no friend of the Russians, the others kept it to a token 3 or 4, know ing the response.

  7. Nig l
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    In 1980 Margaret Thatcher tried to ban the British Olympic association from taking part in the Moscow games ironically using threats that Russia would have been proud of and the US did not attend at all over the invasion of Afghanistan. Hard working athletes ambitions sacrificed on a political alter.

    I went to Moscow for three weeks as a spectator and soon realised what a ludicrous decision it was, in fact it achieved nothing apart from heightening tension and provoking reciprocal action in 1984.

    Prior to games Russian press had been issuing stern warnings to the Russian people that we were spies, war mongers, women had disease etc and should be steered well clear of. Thatchers and the US’s actions meant that instead of flooding Moscow with joyous spectators to show the ordinary Russians we were nothing like the stereotypes portrayed by their politicians, the ban merely confirmed their view that the West seemed to embarrass Russia etc.

    Almost 40 years on different actions, encouraging ex satellite countries to join NATO, sanctions, attacks on Putin merely confirm that the West continues to want to emarass and restrict Russia and worse of all dies not respect it. We are also seen as two faced refusingbtheir requests to send umpteen so called enemies of the state home whilst accepting billions if their ‘dirty’ money.

    Of course we must continue with firm responses to their actions but we must stop treating it as a pariah but an equal, stop nibbling away at it’s old territories and then ratchet up bi laterals, exchanges etc, to talk, talk and more talk to show we are not a threat and do not give Putin any excuse to get out of his box and be patient.

    He cannot go on go on for ever, and we need to wait until the Russian people get fed up with their very constrained economic circumstances as inevitably they will.

  8. A different Simon
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    “Russia also has substantial cyber capability, and uses the world media to pursue its policy aims. ”

    The second part of the above sentence is clearly baloney as the World media is controlled by a very narrow set of people .

    Since you brought it up , doesn’t it worry you that the current situation with Russia is being used as justification for an unprecedented clampdown on free speech , alt media and the internet ?

    Mrs May has shown herself to be a monstrous ultra authoritarian with a cavalier attitude towards personal freedom and a control freak with a need for total control of the news-flow .

    I never thought I’d say this but I will vote for Mr Corbyn’s Labour party before I will endorse the Conservative party under T. May .

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      May must go before the next election, but Corbyn would be a total disaster. Just the threat of him (augmented by May’s total lack of vision) is already doing huge damage to the economy. This on top of the damage the “highest taxes and tax complexity for forty years” that Philip Hammond is doing.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      ADS,

      That made me wonder why the UK is so bereft of good, strong leadership?

      Unlike the past, I wouldn’t now trust any of the Westminster parties enough to lend them my vote, and thus, I am politically homeless. I dare say many others feel the same way. With the local elections coming up, that should worry them, but I doubt that it will.

      The people tend to rally behind a strong leader. I wouldn’t trust any Westminster party leader to run a whelk stall. Further, the one we presently have in Downing Street is so weak, she’s dangerous. There’s nothing quite so bad as a gutless leader who tries to compensate for their inadequacies any way they can.

      Mrs. Capitulation doesn’t inspire me one iota!

      Tad

      • APL
        Posted March 29, 2018 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        Tad Davison: “Further, the one we presently have in Downing Street is so weak, she’s dangerous. ”

        No no no, no! This directly contradicts the prevailing orthodoxy that simply slotting a woman in charge of a thing automatically makes that thing work better.

        You will be shunned. 🙂

        • Tad Davison
          Posted March 29, 2018 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

          I hear you APL and the liberal feminists will probably be hyperventilating in disgust, but I don’t judge suitability on the grounds of male or female, just on individual ability – which is how it should be. I can think of some women who do (or did) a far better job than their male contemporaries, just not this one, in this capacity. Get her into a tight spot, and the note of panic in her voice is palpable. Back-foot Sue would be a good and appropriate nickname!

          Tad

      • Timaction
        Posted March 29, 2018 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        I agree there are millions like us who have no representation any longer but are however forced to pay taxes and the forces of their propaganda like the BBC and their mates in the msm!

      • A different Simon
        Posted March 30, 2018 at 10:21 am | Permalink

        Quote T.D.

        “There’s nothing quite so bad as a gutless leader who tries to compensate for their inadequacies any way they can. ”

        Excellent insight Tad .

        If Mrs May thinks that her anti-Russian rhetoric (which started months before the Salisbury incident) has strengthened her political position , then worryingly we can expect more of the same .

        She is a very dangerous dictatorial person .

        I wish she would stop using the word “we” when expressing her personal support for things like the EU Arrest Warrant and International Rules Based Order because she certainly does not speak for the majority of British citizens .

    • Tom William
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      I think our host would have better said something like media and social media, which is blindingly obvious to most people, unless you believe that GCHQ and NSA just make it all up.

      As for the “unprecedented clampdown on free speech” being due to opposition to Russian interference…. what on earth are you talking about?

    • Doug Powell
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      May has shown herself for what she is: A second rate 1960s politician!

  9. Bryan Harris
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    It appears that too many people, having failed to get a Russian spring, are now determined to go back to the old days, demonising Russia, and intent on a cold war.

    Oh, if only the West had real diplomats, rather than the handwringing liberals that now serve us…
    Putin has been demonised by Merkel, for his lack of enthusiasm, for regional political unions, more binding UN treaties and of course a future one world government… something our gutless western leaders have all bought into…
    Thank God, the world still can find leaders like Trump and Putin, to shoot down the idiocy of current political thinking.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Agree totally Bryan!

      Tad

    • Ian wragg
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Well spoken. I believe much of the opprobrium heaped on Putin and Trump is because they are both challenging the OWG and globalisation traight that is being pursued by the EU and IMF etc.
      These are the same idiots who are trying to reverse the Brexit result.
      Thankfully the voters of most nations are waking up.

  10. Lifelogic
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    The UK is appallingly inefficient at defence and defence procurement. Indeed the state sector is appallingly inefficient at almost everything they do as can be seen almost anywhere you look. 45% of GDP is, to a very large degree, thrown down the drain or totally misdirected on totally the wrong projects. Lots of people have large salaries, expensive braided uniforms, medals and gold plated pensions while delivering little of real value.

    The bosses are probably more concerned about gender policy, the toilet arrangements. how much of their energy use is “renewable”, how they deal with plastic bottles and gender pay gap reporting than on actual defence. I expect they will be announcing development of military planes and boat that run off batteries next!

    Taking their lead from our dear lefty leader Theresa May.

    Look at the appalling new recruitment adverts and their agenda for confirmation of all that is wrong.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42629529

    • Bob
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      @Lifelogic

      I wonder if Sergeant Major is still allowed to address soldiers as “you ‘orrible little man”? or is it now “you okay hun?”.

      If you listen to the old lectures by Yuri Bezmenov on infiltration, subversion and demoralisation it seems like he is describing exactly what is happening in the West, (and the BBC played a key role).

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 29, 2018 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        He would probably be obliged to check the gender pronoun that the person concerned wished to be identified by first – ze/hir/hirs/they/them …..

  11. agricola
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Stay visibly strong, remain resolute, but do nothing. Let the problems of Russia remain within Russia for the Russians to resolve. With advancing levels of information technology, Russia’s problems will come from within. Learn from history and stay detached.

    • sm
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      agricola, I absolutely agree.

    • Adam
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Agricola’s perspective is thoughtful & well-founded.

      ‘Do nothing harmful’ might be better than ‘do nothing’ alone. Doing something gently with others, to assist the process along, might help.

  12. oldtimer
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    We are now in a 21st C version of the Great Game. This latest version pits China and Russia versus the USA and it’s friends and allies. The driving forces are the desire by the US to maintain its dominance, whether militarily or financially, and China to grow and build its influence free of US inspired or controlled restraints. This can be seen in its Belt and Road initiative, deals with Russia, Iran and others to secure access to energy on its terms (such as it’s petroyuan initiative) and it’s growing military power. I read that China supports the Russian version of the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

    As for what the UK should do, it should support NATO as a collective defence alliance, avoid involvement in proxy wars and seek to build and support free trade around the world.

    • Timaction
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Who knows the truth with the Salisbury incident until the nerve agent is independently analysed by neutral international arbiters. Lots of speculation on many media sources on the web.

  13. Tim M
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    I was a Lieutenant in the British Army and in the early 1980s served in northern Germany. My regiment moved tactical nuclear weapons which were designed to strike the rear of a massive Warsaw Pack armoured attack, to enable our tanks to defeat their spearhead. Thankfully for the peoples of Europe and humanity in general that never happened and with the ending of the cold war the Warsaw Pack collapsed.

    Since then however NATO has expanded eastwards and I can well understand Russian concern at now having NATO forces in neighbouring countries. Would the US be comfortable with Russian armoured regiments in Mexico ? Clearly they have drawn a line in the sand over Ukraine.

    It is hard to believe that Putin would be so inept that the attempted murder of a Russian in the UK failed and created the current diplomatic crisis. The obvious inconsistencies in the current narrative have been pointed out by craigmurry.org.uk and cooler heads than the recent comments by the Foreign Secretary and Defence minister are required.

    The current row with the Russian government is worrying, as people seem to forget the potential horror of things getting out of hand.

  14. Stred
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    On the subject of Russia, the German version of the Beeb had an article about Novochock nerve agent. It is made by combining two much less dangerous compounds which are similar to organophosphorous weed killers. Although developed in the USSR, its composition is known about in other countries including the UK and USA Its inventor lives there. Presumably Porton Down has researched it. Probably the Ukraine knows how to make it. So how can Mrs May have become certain that the Russian state was responsible for the dirty deeds and why would they do it just before the World Cup and after they diverted tankers of gas to stop us running out.

    • Tom William
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Why on earth should the Ukraine know how to make it? Why not add in any country you care to think of? It has never knowingly been used before , and according to reliable intelligence was invented in the USSR but never declared, and Russia is known to have stocks of it. It is highly lethal to handle.

      Who, other than Russia (and of course the UK) would have known who Skripal was and where he lived?

      Why have Russian spokesmen produced more than 20 explanations of what happened, many of them self contradictory?

      The answer is probably to disrupt the opinion of Western public opinion.

      • Zorro
        Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        How many explanations? Only 20….. Yo are making this up, aren’t you? How many methods of application of whatever was used have been leaked by the investigators? Do you know where these weapons were made? – Nukus, Uzbekistan. Do you know when the factory was decommissioned and who facilitated it….? Do you know how many countries still have access to chemical weapons. OPCW certified Russian compliance with treaty obligations in Oct 2017. Do you know when USA or Israel complied with OPCW? Are they members even?

        zorro

      • stred
        Posted March 30, 2018 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        Because Ukraine was part of the USSR and the Western half is highly antagonistic to Russia. Other countries are too. The point made by the German article is that two non- lethal compounds can be combined at the scene and transported safely until combined, though still dangerous. When the polonium poisoning was done, the murderers contaminated themselves and left a trail. Russians have told us that the KGB/FSB, as in all ex communist countries is run by corrupt ex communists who are out of control. Look at Romania, their president can’t control them. The countries are a shambles. At least they can spend the money on hardware better than the UK though.

  15. steveL
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    The Crimea War broke out in the 1850’s, between Britain and France on one side, and Russia the other, it all happened very suddenly and the outbreak took everyone by surprise. Thing is the Russians were in expansionist mood- just the same as they are today- the leopard doesn’t change his spots

    With the Russians it is respect from the west that they demand- and if they are not getting it in the amounts that they want? well we had better watch out!..for instance very few western leaders of importance attended the Sochi winter games 2014 and was seen by them as highly insulting- and this after they had spent billions preparing for these games. President Putin is still smarting from all of this, and so it probably resulted in the intensification and the start of the most recent spat- ie. the Crimea takeover, the Ukraine escalation.. etc etc leading to Sailisbury? The best way to deal with them is by robust defence, NATO, and to keep the numbers of their diplomats abroad to a minimum and so slowly choke them off- close their bank accounts and cancel visas of those with no good reason to be here- usually spies- whatever? but always watch out for the them – they can always be expected to be up to no good. They are just different- different culture not used to democracy- never had it- and so rely on hard men like Putin, thugs up to no good.. you could not be up early enough in the morning to be ahead of them- speaking as one who knows very well.

    • Zorro
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      For information the Ukraine/Crimea escalation as you put it was a direct result of the EU/US facilitated overthrow of the lawful Ukrainian authorities…..

      zorro

  16. Zorro
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Well that piece will stir a few responses! Even you must be raising an eyebrow about the events in Salisbury and the lack of any evidence and total black out on comments from normal people. Even the doctor in the newspaper brought into question the number treated by the hospital. Doubtless he will go down the memory hole!

    Fact – US spending is 10 times what the Russians spend. It has an economy the size of Italy! Enough already.

    NATO has expanded AGGRESSIVELY continually over the last 20 or so years up to Russia’s borders contradicting earlier promises not to do so. Cameron wanted to push the EU to the Urals!

    Intervention in Syria. Well the Coalition was there allegedly fighting ISIS but were useless, and it only started to turn when the Russians REALLY started fighting the headchoppers whichh our proxies supported….. Iraq, Syria, Libya…. less collateral intrusion. You’re having a laugh surely. Have you seen the devastation in Mosul or what happened in Iraq.? Depleted uraniium, phosphorus bombs?

    Cyber capability? Who says? You’re having another laugh. Who invented the internet? What was its original purpose? Stuxnet virus? Backdoors into all major telecom/internet providers? Seriously John? Snowden – unlawful surveillance on the ENTIRE population.

    A clue – if an IP address is allegedly in Russia, and made by ‘Russian Bear”, it won’t be the Russians……

    zorro

    • acorn
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      Keep in mind that a considerable quantity of Russian commerce is conducted in US Dollars and does not show up on its national Rouble accounts.

      The USA is a large economy, its citizens have a large desire for foreign imports, just like the British. Woe betide the governments that stop those citizen voters getting their hands on those imports.

      Hence, lots of foreigners turn up in the USA, flogging their stuff and getting paid in US Dollars. Foreigners end up with a lot of US Dollars and use them to trade way outside of the US sovereign currency area. That’s how the US Dollar became the worlds “reserve” currency.

  17. Sakara Gold
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Lets start by pointing out that during WW2 (they call it the Great Patriotic War) Russia was invaded by Germany and lost approximately 22 million citizens in four years. They eventually defeated Germany – with help from us in the West – but in doing so occupied most of Eastern Europe. This left a nuclear armed America and large Western armies facing the Red Army across the ceasefire line. Germany very nearly defeated Russia – the Wehrmacht got to within 11km of Moscow. Stalin, paranoid, was suspicious of the West; this was the start of the Cold War. To understand today’s Russia, one has to consider this historical background.

    Russia feels the loss of superpower status acutely. The collapse during the Gorbachov years and the withdrawal from eastern european territories conquered during WW2 gave freedom to these countries and understandably, they wanted to prevent another occupation and joined NATO. Strategically, this has pushed Russia east; the territorial buffer of the eastern european countries is no longer there.

    In my view Russia sees us in the West as competitors, not necessarily as enemies. They have watched us undertake unnecessary “regime change” military invasions in the middle east and elsewhere – America has extended it global influence as Russia’s has declined. Don’t forget, America now has about 800 military bases in more than 70 countries. Clearly, they also want to trade with us as they develop a free maket economy

    It seems obvious that Russia is spending far more on defense than we do and more efficiently, too. We waste billions and billions pouring taxpayers money into the MoD but we have fewer submarines, aircraft and a (now) pitifully small army. We could learn from how Russia manages is defence industry, they have produced some excellent weaponry in recent years – hypersonic anti-ship cruise missles, their very good S400 air defence system, the Sukhoi Su-57 – a stealthy, single-seat, twin-engine multirole fifth-generation jet fighter designed for air superiority and attack operations

    The Russians respect our military strength and our will to fight for what we believe in. We should respond to Russian provocations in challenging British airspace, in invading Crimea and the Ukraine and Syria with strength, but we should also engage in a dialogue with them; as George W Bush said “Russia is not our enemy” There may come a time when we need them on our side again.

    • stred
      Posted March 30, 2018 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      Russia actually expressed a desire to join Nato when Yeltsin took over but was rebuffed. We also failed to help the old piss artist privatise Soviet industry and then it was sold off cheap to the ex -commie crooks who were running it before. Putin has been getting some of it back under state control, but then they can’t help getting their sticky fingers into the pie.

  18. Adam
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Switzerland’s ethos of peace & neutrality has cushioned it from aggression. The UK is peace-oriented, & a worthy ally in assisting others’ defence; although being so creates enmity.

    Territorial invasion & occupation by an aggressor may be an outdated calibration of growing power. Similarly, highest levels of firepower could signal a combatant’s capability; or not. Sitting on a powder keg is risky. Power is vested, not in size, but what controls.

    Process in conflict is similar to that in chess. Specific moves & sequence dictate outcomes, irrespective of an opponent’s apparent superiority. Such decisive moves may be subtle, & even peaceful.

    The UK should be friendly to Russia, or just passive, but not shrug off a malevolent strike without response. The majority of populations tend to be peaceful folk. Encouraging those sensible majorities to put matters right would be better for all.

    Belligerent leaders are not worthy of control. Followers decide who leads. UK as a leader should aim our peaceful message at them & their collective wisdom; not the threat of weapons!

  19. Prigger
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Put yourself in the shoes of your opponent ( in military terms ).

    Look at the size and position of your territory and for whatever reason for their opposition to you from the Other Side.
    These are the nations and peoples who have had their soldiers on my soil mostly in living memory but certainly in the last two hundred years killing us either in WWI, WW2, interventionist armies in 1917-1920.
    China, Japan, Hungary Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Greece, parts of former Yugoslavia, Turkey, Finland, Sweden,France, Belgium, ,UK, Denmark, Mongolia,Poland, Austria, Germany, Italy, Japan. ( There may be more )

    As any Russian knows, it is commonsense, Russia needs more tanks, more aircraft, fighters, bombers, field guns, sophisticated, armaments, missiles, nuclear armaments. We have to protect ourselves just in case the gentle peace loving people’s surrounding us may get naughty, not that they would, given their track record in murder of Russians and otherwise between their peaceloving and gentle selves.

    Our UK policy to Russia.For the UK to grow up. Stop going along with bad boy gangs who invade Russia. They are always………………………….. losers.

  20. John E
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    I have seen the occasional user posting on this site that reminds me of the Russian troll contributors that one finds elsewhere.
    Are you able to protect your site against their propaganda influence? Perhaps you already filter out the obvious ones. Or do you rely on us to highlight suspicious postings?

    • zorro
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      Like who?

      zorro

    • stred
      Posted March 30, 2018 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      I spent half a day in Moscow 40 years ago and went into a restaurant for the commie party near the Kremlin, as I was very hungry and there was no food anywhere, except ice cream. Two old lady commies wanted to swap my umbrella for some biscuits and were amused that we were able to just walk in undetected. The biscuits were crap, though the wiener schnitzel was very welcome. It seemed to be the staple diet for commies. Since then, I have quite liked Ruskies.
      What is a Troll?

  21. Epikouros
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    That tells us a lot about the incompetence, overmanning, wastefulness of our departments and agencies of defence but then we were already aware of that fact. Over run budgets and agencies high and bloated administration costs are the norm. Thousands are employed in planning and procurement where as Russia and places like Israel do a far better job with a fraction of that number. We have an extremely expensive aircraft carrier without planes and built in an era where the need for such is highly debatable. That exposes the type inefficient thinking that goes into defence planning.

    Russia as did the USSR and China has the luxury that they only have one authority over which to plan its forces and decide how they are used. The West does not and welding a multitude of disparate views in how to react to military actions and conflicts is no easy matter. NATO has its weaknesses but its birth was a stroke of genius as it does go a long way in dealing with defence and looking after the interests of the West. It may be far from perfect but under current circumstances I see no better solution. It would be more helpful if the West was not in such a deep decline. In terms of morals, leadership, political and financial competence. It is riddled with decadence, mediocrity and farcical values.

  22. The Resistance
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Correction Czech Republic. I was thinking of the former Czecholslovakia with borders in the east to Ukraine which were thought by Czechs and Slovaks and Russians living in East Slovakia and Ukraine to be “more or less” Russia in security, social, customs, political and military terms . Of course Germany does not have a border with Russia except in the spirit and heart of what that nation has thought to be its territory which, again in spirit and heart historically stretch right up to and well over Russian borders. The heart of a nation seldom dies…if ever. First and Last rule of military policy!

  23. English Pensioner
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    In my younger days, I was taught to try to see the other person’s point of view. I think we should try to do this with Russia.

    Historically, Russia has been invaded numerous times. Most of us know about Napoleon’s attempt, but I believe that there were previous invasions. And in our time, Hitler also invaded Russia. Both were beaten back at enormous cost in Russian lives. After WW2, Russia controlled the East Bloc countries, which provided them with a buffer zone against the West.

    With the break up of the USSR, they lost this buffer zone, but from their perspective, the action of these countries in joining the EU, meant that this European Empire was now getting ever closer. With the EU’s dabbling in Ukraine, it could have looked to them like yet more expansion of this EU Empire, a considerable worry as it could deprive them of their Black Sea port. Overtures made by the EU towards Turkey, would also be seen as a bad sign, this was again a threat to their access to the Mediterranean.

    Personally, I don’t believe Russia wants war, but I can understand why they feel threatened by what they might regard as the expansionist ambitions of the EU. Which is why I will feel safer once Brexit is complete and we can dissociate ourselves from what the EU does.

    • DaveK
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      If Mr Putin said this: “Our vision of Russia is that it should be a large trading and co-operating organisation that effectively stretches, as it were, from the Urals to the Atlantic”. Do you think perhaps we would be upset?

      • Mitchel
        Posted March 29, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        Mr Putin (together with the Chinese)does have a vision -the Greater Eurasia project-it’s not a superstate,more a trade and energy network.If achieved it will effectively remove US influence from Eurasia and thereby render the UK totally irrelevant too.

  24. Wessexboy
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Keep cordial relationships, as with Saudi Arabia. Both countries have a very different agenda, miles from our own perhaps, but we can trade and talk at high tables.
    ‘Speak softly but carry a big stick’ – defence spending must be maintained, however awfully inefficient all state expenditure is. Let’s ask why this must be so.

  25. Mick
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Off topic
    https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/938696/Brexit-news-UK-Tony-Blair-BBC-European-Union-Boris-Johnson-EU
    Why is any media giving this person air time along with all the other anti-Britain pro Eu loving muppets, if they love Europe that much pack your bags and along with all the other Eu loving muppets and media and move to your land of milk and honey etc ed

  26. RDM
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    It’s not just the numbers!

    Some Russian aircraft are old, but high effective.

    The MIG is still one of top three of the worlds fighters!

    The other two; F22, and another Russian fighter, the brand new strategic fighter, Su T50.

    New MIG 42 on it’s way?

    The old bombers and troop carriers, are slow, but they need to be!

    So, if they still do the job, reliably, why waist resources?

    The real question, to me, is how far advanced is their Nuclear and Missile technology?

    It seems we are being out gunned on both fronts!

    So, our first up, strategic defence, is so far behind, we seem to be relying on NATO (USA), in the hope the USA could respond in time.

    Well, I think our senior politicians have just realised to this point, well I hope so?!

    See £800M extra funding for our Nuclear program.

    Well, we desperately need a lot more fast jet fighters, as a strategic deterrence, even Carrier based.

    Please do not suggest the F35, it is not an answer!

    It is a ground attack aircraft, and not a very good one, it does not matter how much, or how politically sensitive it may be, it has failed most of the Test program, and not, fundamentally what we need!

    I wish we could afford an Interoperability based system, but can we afford to focus on it?

    From here we need to, more then, double the number of Typhoons, and even some Carrier based Typhoons!

    How? Using known leap frog technology, even if there are risks in doing that!

    Regards,

    RDM.

  27. James
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    We should bear in mind the debt we owe to the brave Russian people. Virtually alone for a substantial period during WW2 they ripped the heart out of the Nazis by fighting them to a standstill, and gradually overcoming an ordeal that resulted in more than 20 million Russian deaths.

    • AndersK
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      James..yes..the brave Russian people..but don’t forget that Stalin entered into pact with Hitler 1939 where they divided up Europe between them andd that’s how it was until Hitler invaded and doublecrossed the Russian with Barborossa in ’41..russians too are treacherous at all levels..

      • Zorro
        Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

        Nonsense, they divided up Poland which created a buffer between Germany and Russia. Stalin knew full well that Germany would attack him. It bought Russia time……

        zorro

  28. formula57
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    “I would be interested to hear your thoughts on what …. the UK in particular should be saying and doing about Russian policy” ! We have been obliged to see jeopardized this diary’s status as magic (conferred you will recall after a request in Comments to see a Brexit government was met in under a fortnight) by the failure of Blue Boris to implement the Johnson-Lavrov Non-Aggression Pact. Had that been in place it would have re-set the Russian relationship, undoing much unnecessary harm, and the appalling events seen in Salisbury may well never have come about.

    “Russia should understand and accept that NATO is a defensive alliance with no wish to extend territory by force of arms” – but with a willingness to extend territory by other means, for example by signing-up new members to encircle Russia in flagrant contravention of undertakings given by Bush the First to Russia.

    And if ever there was a case for the National Audit Office doing a value for money inspection, it is made by “…Russia manages to sustain 3794 military aircraft, 20,216 tanks and 63 submarines on the same level of defence spending as the UK. The UK has according to the same source 856 planes, 249 tanks and 11 submarines”.

  29. Dominic Johnson
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Although NATO is a defensive alliance, a fair few of its members seem to think that they can throw stones from behind its walls with impunity.

    And although the EU isnt interested in using overt force to expand, its tentacles are happily prodding the Russosphere, which is fine, but Russia is quite open it will use force to counter “peaceful penetration” and EUrope really needs an answer for that that isnt we’ll fight to the last American.

    For the UK, if we continue to allow Russian dissidents to reside here, we will suffer the occasional instance of them being murdered. Are we prepared to escalate over that? And to what extent? Murder british dissidents hiding in Russia?

    Our best weapon would be to frack for gas, that really would bite Russia hard, but sadly Russias useful idiots have cut that option off.

    • Tom William
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      See Ambrose Evans Pritchard in today’s Telegraph Business Section and learn the details of how we are starting to frack an enormous field in Lancashire/Yorkshire. If one tenth of it can be extracted it would cover our entire gas needs for 50 years.

      He also mentions that Russia was producing anti fracking disinformation.

  30. Julian
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Why fundamentally is Russia antagonistic to the West? It is likely that the old guard resent the collapse of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact. In the long run we need to coax Russia back into the family of nations and this can happen over time as the old guys go.
    In the short term we manage the situation as best we can.

    • Mitchel
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Russia doesn’t want to be coaxed anywhere.Putin is even more popular with the young (17-24)than the old according to a poll released just before the election.The idea that Russia/China/Turkey/etc are desperate to become western is old fashioned orientalism and potentially a very dangerous course to pursue given how weak the West is these days.

    • Zorro
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      What evidence do you have that Russia has been antagonistic towards the West. Surely the evidence shows the opposite!

      zorro

    • on the Horns of bull
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      Julian
      “Why…is Russia antagonistic to the West? ” A few decades ago the West said it was communism which made Russia antagonistic. Obviously it wasn’t. Therefore, first we must investigate why the West lied about the reason.
      Also, switch perspectives for investigative argument and ask “Why is the West antagonistic to Russia?
      Actually not all of the West is antagonistic, never was. Curiouser and curioser.

  31. APL
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    “These figures reveal why the West takes Russia seriously.”

    Yes, we are right to ‘take Russia seriously’. But that’s not the hysterics we’ve had from the chief of the defence staff, the defence secretary every single time a Russian navy warship traverses the English channel. ( An peacetime international waterway, btw )

    Your figures for the relative strength of Russia vis a vie the British are disingenuous, to say the least. Britain doesn’t face Russia alone, Britain in its alliance with NATO faces Russia. That means the force equivalence is radically changed.

    Why, are we opposed to Russia, but maintain cordial relations with China?

    Both countries have regimes with totalitarian characteristics. China more so.

    Why is the British government on a belligerent footing with regard to Russia but not China?

    Britain could benefit from improved relations with Russia. It’s been a principle of Western international relations to raise China out of the devastating self imposed destruction of the Cultural revolution and attempt to integrate it into the Western economic system.

    What’s wrong with Russia ( Not the Soviet Union ) that we wouldn’t approach relations with Russia with the same attitude?

    • Tom William
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      And Russian aircraft testing our air defences, submarines lurking off Scotland? We don’t have Chinese aircraft or submarines doing that.

      • APL
        Posted March 31, 2018 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

        Tom William: “And Russian aircraft testing our air defences, submarines lurking off Scotland?”

        That’s what our military is for, our defence. We’d be better off using it for defence than blowing up electricity utility and water purification plant in Libya.

        Tom William: “We don’t have Chinese aircraft or submarines doing that.”

        Give ’em time, old son. Give ’em time.

    • Mitchel
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      Imperial envy-and Russia still has most of it’s empire!Historically,we never had that sort of relationship with China,which is a bigger threat to the west looking forward.

    • mancunius
      Posted March 30, 2018 at 1:16 am | Permalink

      “What’s wrong with Russia ( Not the Soviet Union ) ” – well, for a start, the fact that Putin thinks Gorbachev made a basic mistake, and that Russia is the rightful inheritor not only of the Soviet Union, but the Tsarist Empire as well: the Crimea is only a start.
      The port of Odessa (Western Ukraine) might well be Putin’s next domino, as an ‘historic Russian naval stronghold’, possibly under the pretext of using it as a staging post to ‘liberate’ the peace-loving Transnistrians in Moldova. (Many Transnistrians – nearly 40% – have Russian passports).
      Then it only needs a Russian military pincer movement from that western border of Ukraine, and Kiev and Lviv would be quickly occupied and returned to the ‘protection’ of Mother Russia, recovering the Russian Imperial western border of 1912.
      No, I’m not saying it will happen. But I bet Putin thinks about it a lot.

      • APL
        Posted April 1, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        mancunius: ” the Crimea is only a start. ”

        The transfer of Crimea to Ukraine was reputedly an administrative matter carried out by Khrushchev under the Soviet Union.

        And of course the British were fighting Imperial Russian forces in the Crimea in 1854, not Ukrainian.

        mancunius: “But I bet Putin thinks about it a lot.”

        Seeing as you have no idea what Putin thinks about a lot, I’ll take that bet.

        The point is, the UK has retired from being a world power. We have decided it better to import the 3rd world poor and run a Welfare State on tic.

        That’s a decision our politicians have made.

        Pretending we are a first world country, despite spending half our GDP on health and welfare, while there is still 3rd world levels of TB ( a condition all but eradicated in the UK in the ’70s ) , makes us a laughing stock.

        And Theresa May’s sabre rattling her willingness to spark a nuclear conflagration to ‘look’ like a player on the international scene, makes her foolish.

  32. APL
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    JR: “When intervening in conflict zones in the Middle East Russia and her allies proceed with less concern for collateral damage, less worry about killing non combatants in the anti ISIS war. ”

    Sometimes the only word to describe what you write is hypocritical.

    While the West were diverting our attention at Russia in Syria, US forces were devastating Mosul.

    Collateral ‘damage’, you mean civilian deaths. Now tally up the civilian dead in Mosul .

    • APL
      Posted April 1, 2018 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      “Now tally up the civilian dead in Mosul ”

      Redwood won’t make that calculation.

  33. lojolondon
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe the idiots that I see in European politics – alternately sucking up to Putin and complaining about him. I really think that when free of the EU, Britain could and should try to be Russia’s best friend in Europe. Nothing to lose, everything to gain.
    Also bear in mind that the West was really fiddling around in the Middle East with Obama in the driving seat, spending a fortune and achieving absolutely nothing. Pre-Trump it was only Russia that stood against murderous tyranny, and the Westminster Elite may not appreciate that, but the man in the street certainly does!!

    • Tom William
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      “Only Russia that stood against murderous tyranny”? Are you serious?

      • stred
        Posted March 30, 2018 at 8:42 am | Permalink

        Ever wonder why we ban right wing journalists but welcome ISIS murderers and rapists back with help from therapists and housing?

        • APL
          Posted April 1, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

          stred: “Ever wonder why we ban right wing journalists but welcome ISIS murderers and rapists back ..”

          Occasionally. And the conclusion I reach is that British Politicians are spineless lickspittles.

          They surrendered to the IRA. Now they have surrendered to ISIS.

          • APL
            Posted April 4, 2018 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

            “They surrendered to the IRA. Now they have surrendered to ISIS.”

            We’d better hope Theresa May’s sabre rattling doesn’t bear fruit. Our poor soldiers will be marched up the hill, and the spineless British government will surrender to the Russians, just as they are most exposed.

  34. John P McDonald
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    It seems to have been politically correct to view Russia as our enemy for the past 100 years at least. At the time of the USSR collapse there was an opportunity to bring Russia into Western Europe and later when Putin first came to power he did seek to join the club as it were, but perhaps that did not suit the western politicians and it did not happen.
    We also have what ever NATO does is OK but if Russia does the same it’s aggression.
    Western reporting is so obviously biased it makes RT look truthful, and I guess that’s really the problem.
    Now we can no longer take what our governments say at face value. Take the justifications for actions in the Middle East and of course BREXIT.

    And the latest issue. We could have at least been seen to be upholding our British way by following international agreements on investigating chemical attacks. But the Russians are guilty we don’t need any actual evidence to give our public. The chemical in question dates back to the 1990’s I think the inventor is now in the USA. There are still a lot of gangsters around.
    I believe the justification for the Vietnam war was later found to be false. Good job the government of the day kept us out of that one.

    With NATO on it’s borders I am not surprised Russia feels it needs a big army.
    Maybe we can buy some Russia aircraft for our aircraft carriers. It would be a joke if the whole situation was not so serious

  35. AndersK
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Yulia Skripal is on the mend..Putins worst nightmare

    • stred
      Posted March 30, 2018 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Possibly May’s too. Let’s hope she and the policeman are not affected permanently and make a full recovery. And her dad too.

  36. Derek
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    NATO needs updating. To do this requires money. I do not know how it can be enforced but each NATO member is required to contribute 2% of their GDP to Defence.
    Sadly, only 5 of the 28 members qualify. These are USA, Greece, UK, Estonia and Poland. This is not right. NATO is being short changed.
    Put into context, the most indebted Nation in the EU is contributing twice as much as the richest Nation in the EU, who arrogantly sits back, as they have done so since before the Cold War, and waits for other poorer nations to protect them. This undermines and devalues NATO.
    If Greece can honour their commitment why cannot France, Germany, The Netherlands, Canada, Denmark and Spain, et al?
    If each of these ‘hangers-on’ paid their way, NATO would bigger and more effective a force than they seemingly appear to be to Moscow, today.

    NATO should not be used as an International Police Force nor as Peace Keepers. It is there to defend with force of arms and should not be restricted by politics once called upon to do its job with the great firepower at its disposal.
    It should be noted that 22 Nations of the 28 NATO members are Members of the European Union so questions must be demanded from Brussels as to why they plan to build their own army when there is already an long experienced one in existence. And ask where is the EU funding to come from, when just 4 of the current 28 members actually meet their NATO contribution targets? NATO must not fail.

  37. Derek
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I notice, John that you have omitted the number surface warships available to NATO and to Russia. Is there a particular reason for that? Apart from their absence from the Global Firepower record.
    In this field, I believe NATO certainly has the edge but only because of the USA for without their involvement, NATO would be too weakened to effectively challenge Russia. Even more reason for the EU to keep them onside?

  38. Ron Olden
    Posted March 30, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    As the ‘final countdown’ to Freedom Day has now started, I thought I’d draw all your attentions to the lyrics of the 1986 song of the same name. (Ironically sung by the Rock Band ‘Europe’).

    There’s a link to see and hear it on You Tube as well if Mr Redwood’s blog will permit it just this once.

    THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

    ”We’re leaving together,
    But still it’s farewell……
    I guess there is no one to blame
    We’re leaving ground (leaving ground)
    Will things ever be the same again?
    It’s the final countdown
    The final countdown

    We’re heading for Venus (Venus)
    And still we stand tall
    ‘Cause maybe they’ve seen us (seen us)
    And welcome us all, yeah
    With so many light years to go
    And things to be found (to be found)…

    It’s the final countdown
    The final countdown
    The final countdown
    The final countdown”

  39. Ron Olden
    Posted March 30, 2018 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I wouldn’t bother much about Russia at all.

    People need to look at a map drawn with Russia in the middle, and place themselves in their shoes. Russia is surrounded by big powers which it thinks are hostile to it, and in some cases it’s right.

    It has the USA and Japan immediately to its’ East and China to its’ South. The USA is also just over the North Pole.

    It has the EU to the West, (and the EU has made it quite clear by stirring up trouble in Ukraine, that it is a potential territorial threat).

    It also has two Nuclear Armed Asian Sub Continent powers to its’ South, one of whom is susceptible to radical Islamist influence and potentially takeover, and to its’ South Wast there are a number of Middle Eastern powers, whom, owing to Islamist ethnic minorities present within Russia itself are also a threat.

    The West recently tried to overthrow Russia’s one and only significant ally in the Middle East, and had they succeeded in doing so, ISIS would have replaced it.

    Russia even shares a border with North Korea!!

    No wonder it’s so paranoid. But the question is why are we?

    Russia has no hope of invading and occupying any of us. And if it tries economic blackmail it’s unlikely to get very far. Supplies of oil and gas aren’t as difficult to replace as they used to be, and Russia desperately needs the money it gets from carrying on supplying us.

    The greatest threat from Russia is that it will go bust, become desperate, and act irrationally. We need to sooth its’ fevered brow.

    The Salisbury incident is infinitesimally small compared with the terrorist incidents and the consequences of foreign policy disasters of recent years.

  40. anon
    Posted March 30, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I do not agree that Russia is an expansionist enemy. I think it merely wishes to have a defensive posture for its strategic interests.

    We should maintain a respectful watch and we should seek to work within the confines of international law and seek co-operation where possible. We should work to establish facts first.

    Our governments (not one of mistakes) have over time shown a lack of credibility, a lack trust and hardly seem much better than labelled non-democracies. We are hardly a democracy anymore. This has been confirmed since the neverendum event, organised by our own vested interests and the mass immigration invasion no one voted for and your worried about Russians in Russia.

    Economic co-operation and fair trade is probably a good thing to pursue. (The fair trade thing is important).

    We should buy Russian gas directly and invite tenders (including russia) to build and maintain a gas storage facility within the UK. This should have a large cushion reserve, enough to maintain an adequate supply. Buying russian gas from EU 3rd parties at peak prices is idiotic and we lack any control.

    As far as i know the Russians will supply gas if you pay! Indeed i believe this winter they came through with gas when others failed.

    We should pursue a mixed energy strategy but focussed on renewables as the costs will likely fall below “all other fuels”.

    We should maintain reserve capacity “mothballed” coal plants for emergency use or for prolonged cold periods known as winter,where we are failed by our rule makers/takers to ensure adequate power supplies.

    As far as relative spends – we need to spend wiser, with large enough overseas bases with airlift capacity and a rapid reaction force to respond to potential adversarial military buildups not just words.

    Putin is certainly no mug and in his UN speeches as translated sounds more sensible than others we could name. Make no mistake Russians have a hard edge if pushed. Why not make a strategic attempt at friendly trading relationship.

    Our problem at the moment is our home government, our laws and lack of democracy at home.

    Oh and by the way Russia was invited into Syria. We were not. We should stick to the facts more and question more.

  41. Peter D Gardner
    Posted March 31, 2018 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Dr Redwood, there is a crisis of democracy in UK and some other Western countries. In UK the main parties had, until Corbyn, converged so that general elections became mainly about two things: a) dishing out other people’s money to marginal voters (over half of families are net recipients from the public purse), and b) identifying a common enemy. There are several common enemies to choose from. Climate change is the best as it threatens the existence of humanity. Then comes Putin. He may rule brutally in Russia, which is not our concern, but the Western political class has made him an enemy and united all of Russia around Putin and against the West.
    Being an old cold war warrior I am amused at our current political elites getting so worked up about Russian planes probing UK airspace, Russian warships exercising their right in international law (UNCLOS) to transit through the English Channel and Russian military exercises near the borders with NATO countries. UK’s senior politicians seem to have forgotten everything we once knew about the cat and mouse game of confrontation, expulsions of diplomats etc. But the West now is just willy waving. It is a joke. Other than the USA it has neither the will nor the ability to seriously face Russia down militarily. The USA under Trump might, but who would join him? the EU is so determined to steal NATO from the USA it would not agree anything with the US.

  42. ELGRECO
    Posted March 31, 2018 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    “For her part, Russia should understand and accept that NATO is a defensive alliance with no wish to extend territory by force of arms.”…absolutely untrue. Anyone can read the time maps to observe the closing of western forces around Russia Iran and China in the last 25 years. Of course, not everyone is aware of the Wolfowitz doctrine, but I am sure you are.

    It is difficult for anyone that is immersed in Western media propaganda to appreciate that it is the West, burdened by debt future liabilities, and concerned about the gradual erosion of its global leadership through outright mismanagement, that is the world’s biggest danger today. 60% of the planet representing the non-aligned nations see that very clearly.

    On the subject of Syria, what is the UK, France and the Americans doing on foreign sovereign territory when these nations have not been invited there? Let’s get the international rules clear. Is territory in the EU, UK and the US still sovereign? If it is, so it should be elsewhere in the world. The West does not have the right to infringe those rights, and if nations like the UK still think it’s their right, then that is the nature of the dispute. Emerging nations now becoming affluent, do not want the old powers to interfere in their business. Some are too afraid to say it, others are not. Most people with a modicum of insight understand what this Russophobia campaign is about.

    Why are the Americans attempting to control the oil supplies in Syria? Why is it that the whole of the Middle East believes the US is using terrorists as its proxy army, and your newspapers don’t inform of this important fact? Furthermore, why should anyone believe these three nations, with a history of violence throughout the ages, should be seen as honest brokers today? History says these three colonial nations have caused more trouble dividing cultures, tribes and religions than any of the nations they accuse of being aggressors.

    It is clearly visible to outsiders that Mr Wolfowitz’s doctrine for spreading democracy is an exercise in piracy and in view of Europe’s past, it should not participate in this costly and failing venture. If you want better than 1.5% growth, you will get it in peace time and with good trade relations, not with sanctions, uncertainty and the risk of war.

  43. Simon Platt
    Posted April 2, 2018 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    HMG has been treating Russia as a bogeyman, since long before the Salisbury incident, which has been handled very badly. But we should seek to be friendly with Russia. I don’t think Russia is any threat to Britain. Turkey, on the other hand, whom we, and especially the EU, indulge and flatter, is a threat. Ergogan makes no bones about it. Turkey is run by ideologues, Russia is not. That makes Turkey dangerous to us, and Russia not.

    I’d like to see our policies on Turkey (so far as I understand it) and on Russia swapped.

  • 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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