The contest for influence between the EU and the Eurasian Economic area

The EU and Russia are engaged in a contest to attract the countries clustered on the eastern margins of the European continent into their respective spheres of influence and control. They use some similar techniques to attract countries, though the West would argue that Russia also uses force in some cases and localised areas. They offer a customs union, some discounted or favourable access to things countries need, possible membership of an associated defence grouping, and some mutual support. The west offers EU membership of a customs union and trading system through an Association Agreement, which binds a country into a considerable volume of EU law. Russia offers membership of the Eurasian Economic Union for trade and economic collaboration. For defence the West offers to some membership of NATO, whilst Russia proposes her own Collective Security Organisation.

These competing offers or pressures can prove difficult for the buffer states caught between them. They did so in Ukraine. In 2014 protesters took to the streets in pro Western West Ukraine to topple the elected President who was trying to keep Ukraine neutral between the EU and Russia. The pro EU forces thought him too sympathetic to Russia and disliked his refusal to sign an Association Agreement with the EU. He had also been trying to ensure Russian continued use of warm water ports in Crimea which the Russian navy needs especially in winter. The decision of Ukraine to change Presidents and draw closer to the EU was seen as a reversal by Russia and led to their annexation of Crimea, claimed as part of Russia with a population said to be strongly in favour of joining Russia. Russia assumed and resented EU involvement on the side of the opposition forces to the outgoing President. Russia also then released a transcript of a claimed conversation by Victoria Nuland, the US Assistant secretary of State, to show the USA was also involved in seeking a new anti Russian government in Kiev. The USA never confirmed the tape was accurate but they did not rebut it either. It mentioned Vice President Biden as offering support for the actions, without mentioning President Obama. Clearly the Russians harbour a grudge against Biden and Nuland over Ukraine, and want to give them a tough time by providing a show of strength on the Ukrainian eastern border. Nuland is currently nominated to a very senior role in the State department.

There are similar issues of influence and loyalties in Moldova, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Georgia. President Biden and his EU allies have to work out how to avoid further attempted annexations of territory and how far they can go in allowing or containing the spread of Russian influence by other means. President Trump did let Russia gain influence in Syria as he sought to avoid war in that troubled part of the world.


  1. agricola
    April 16, 2021

    Both are malign influences. Both are anti democratic and ultimately on a road to internal collapse. Seduction along their borders are irrelevant to the well being of their populations. We the UK should stay well clear as should a Biden USA, unless a NATO country is threatened. It is more trouble we could do without.

    1. MiC
      April 16, 2021

      The European Union has no military, no intelligence service, no federal police nor investigative agency and any member can veto the formation of such entity in the future.

      It is the most enlightened, advanced, civilised arrangement between nations that the world has ever seen, and is unique. As it stands it is the most successful peace project between all its member nations that there has ever been too.

      But people who believe in war and who measure national esteem by a capacity for killing and for oppressing other nations no doubt do hate it.

      That is something of which its supporters are rightly proud and only to be expected.

      1. Fred.H
        April 16, 2021

        absolute nonsense. EU has military forces prefixed EUFOR. Troops exist in Battle Groups (BG) / Force Crisis Response Operation Core (CROC). There is a Franco-German Brigade. German/Dutch Corps is a multinational formation consisting of units from the Dutch and German armies. There is a European Gendarmerie Force. An Airforce – The European Air Transport Command (EATC) is the command centre that exercises the operational control of the majority of the aerial refueling capabilities and military transport fleets of its participating nations. Naval Force -The European Maritime Force (EUROMARFOR or EMF) is a non-permanent, military force that may carry out naval, air and amphibious operations, with an activation time of five days after an order is received.

      2. jon livesey
        April 16, 2021

        Ten seconds with Google would have educated you a little bit here. In fact, UVL has announced that a move to QMV for sanctions and foreign affairs generally is her agenda for this term.

        In other words, there will be *no* veto for individual EU members and decisions will be made on the 60/60 principle,

        The EU is like any institution. Changes happen. Any time you imagine you “know” what the EU is doing, it’s well worth looking it up to check if you really do.

      3. Ed M
        April 16, 2021


        Why are people so black and white about Europe – pro and for?

        Brexiters are right about (Full) Sovereignty being a wonderful thing and what we should always be aiming for as an ideal. ORTHODOX
        But wrong that the ends justify the means. HERESY
        Remainers are right to talk about the great benefits in cooperation within European continent over trade, security and culture (and we’ve had it over the centuries in so many great ways: Hanseatic League, armies coming together to defeat Napoleon, the great cultural pollination across Europe during the Renaissance – not forgetting we share so much terms of our Greco-Roman / Judaeo-Christian heritage / geographical area). ORTHODOX
        But wrong that we should therefore be necessarily tied by a single market / European union etc .. HERESY

    2. Dennis
      April 16, 2021

      agricola – If Nato is threatened it seems you would want some response. If you were Putin and feel threatened by Nato up to your borders, breaking a promise not to, and surrounded by hundreds of US bases what would your response be?

      1. agricola
        April 16, 2021

        Dennis, just as in the Thatcher/ Reagan days. Stay strong, be seen to be strong, but do nothing, unless territotially provoked. Make each side aware of where the respective lines were drawn and what the consequences would be. Ultimately it is a question of who can afford it, as Russia discovered years ago.

  2. Grey Friar
    April 16, 2021

    You missed a bit out. Let me help. add this: “Meanwhile, the UK, having left the EU, has no influence on it, and because of its obstructive attitude to the Northern Ireland Protocol its influence in Washington is as low as it ever has been in two centuries. No one cares what the UK thinks anymore, thanks to the retreat from reality which is Brexit”. No need to thank me

    1. agricola
      April 16, 2021

      Silly comment, what is important for the UK is renewed self belief having escaped an elephant trap. A trap that others are questioning the wisdom of financing or remaining in.

    2. Narrow Shoulders
      April 16, 2021

      When we got involved in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria what was your view?

      1. agricola
        April 16, 2021

        I am not sure who you are addressing the question to.
        When Iraq invaded Kuwait, teach Saddam a very severe lesson and leave him to live with the mess. In the case of Afganistan and Syria use intelligence to remotely apply force until tge terrorists found it intolerable. Some of this comes with hindsight so could not be tested in reality.

    3. Peter2
      April 16, 2021

      The EU had this policy in the years before we left the EU.
      We were just one voice in 28.
      The EU unelected elite took no notice then.
      More influence comes from our NATO membership.

      1. Lastgasp
        April 16, 2021

        Like the unelected elite in the House of Lords or the unelected British Royals of which we will see much more tomorrow and what about Lord Frost negotiating on our behalf and then tge rest of the hundreds of thousands of civil servants none of them elected

        1. Peter2
          April 16, 2021

          Ridiculous whataboutery clichés

    4. BJC
      April 16, 2021

      @Grey Friar. The bit you appear to have missed out is that it’s not about “Russia”, the “EU”, or indeed the “UK” flexing their muscles. It’s about an arrogant clique of back-slapping power-hungry men and women who claim to inhabit an evolved and civilised world, yet can’t resist sabre-rattling over strategic territories like neanderthals.

    5. Mike Wilson
      April 16, 2021

      No need to thank me

      On the contrary! Thank you very much for pointing out the obvious. We can now embark on a policy of splendid isolation and concentrate on being as self sufficient as possible in food, energy and manufactured goods. Then we can convention enjoying our lives in this wonderful country without getting involved in the lunacies of the ‘global players’.

    6. Ian Wragg
      April 16, 2021

      You’d like to believe it.
      We will once again become a proud and dynamic nation, not a moribund, navel gazing colony of the evil empire.
      Get a life.

    7. Original Richard
      April 16, 2021

      GF : I’m afraid you’re wrong.

      The UK’s exit from the EU will mean that it will have its own seat at international regulatory meetings and be able to negotiate trade deals which are in the specific interests of the UK’s businesses and consumers as opposed to those of France (food), Italy (food) and Germany (cars).

      We never had any influence in the EU as evidenced by the treatment (described by one MP as “thin gruel”) our PM, Mr. Cameron, received when he said there was a real possibility of the UK voting to leave.

    8. jon livesey
      April 16, 2021

      As opposed to what, exactly? The EU counting UK armed forces as its own? This drivel about “influence” is just the last feeble echo of Project Fear.

      Foreign affairs is about facts, not vague concepts, and the fact of Brexit is that for the first time in decades the UK *exists* as an independent force. If Biden chooses not to make good use of that, it’s his loss.

  3. Mark B
    April 16, 2021

    Good morning.

    Wise words.

    It is now clear why President Trump was accused of sucking up to the Russians despite zero evidence. The thing is, how far now are the USA and EU prepared to go with this ? It is clear to me that there is a concerted effort to seize Russia’s wealth and trying to isolate her from those around her is part of the process. The Russians have never bothered me personally and I do not ever remember them declaring war on us and seizing territory, although they were a bit of a menace in North India.

    Far better to, Jaw-Jaw than War-War methinks.

    1. jerry
      April 16, 2021

      @Mark B; “Far better to, Jaw-Jaw than War-War methinks.”

      Indeed but you need to do so from a position of actual strength, something Reagan and Thatcher understood, something Trump (and the CND!) does not – hence why Trumps anti NATO rhetoric and his appeasement of N. Korea was so damaging. That’s why we need politicos, in the White House and Whitehall, as they do in the Kremlin and the Great Hall of the People, not property developers…

    2. Beenthere
      April 16, 2021

      And what about the Crimea War 1850’s.. they were a menace then.. in 1905 they sent their total naval fleet around the world to confront Japan but were knocked off their perch.. then they were a menace in Stalins time and during the cold war.. they have always been a menace- not to be trusted not for one minute- dangerous people

  4. Alan Jutson
    April 16, 2021

    Politicians again complicating matters with a desire to control not only their own Country, but others as well.

    Some EU countries purchase Oil and Gas from Russia, some the new vaccine, the USA has a joint Space programme with Russia, but supports Nato against Russia in Europe.
    Russians Purchase/invest Millions in European Property, the USA trades with Europe, and Europe trades with the USA.
    Then we have China who want to control the World by using trade pressure.
    Would be so much more simple if each country could be trusted to trade fairly with whoever they liked, and populations could vote for whoever they liked in a fair manner, without interference from within and from other Countries outside, but perhaps that is a dream World.

    1. Sharon
      April 16, 2021

      I rather agree with you, Alan. I was just thinking that everything seems to get so complicated all the time!

  5. Sea_Warrior
    April 16, 2021

    Now is not a good time to reduce the size of the RAF and British Army.

    1. Sharon
      April 16, 2021

      And I agree with you too. Sea

      We do seem to be run by nincompoops at the moment that work on ideologies (climate alarmism) rather than reality.

      1. Lifelogic
        April 17, 2021

        Climate alarmist, vast woke lunacy, diversity, “equality” …

    2. No Longer Anonymous
      April 16, 2021

      I don’t want the Government to have any RAF or Army – nor police for that matter.

      Despite an undoubtedly successful vaccine roll out they still have their boot on our windpipes. Even with zero Covid it is clear that we will be masked and restricted for years yet under the Tories.

      The one redeeming thing for Boris – the successful vaccine roll out – was to be able to set us free but he won’t be doing so. Along with all of his other failed policies add this one too. The worst PM in British history.

      This is the new normal. The old life you loved is never coming back.

      What is there for the RAF and Army to defend ? The Tories have been in office for most of the last 60 years and we are now out of the EU. It is now patently obvious that it is they who are to blame.

    3. Everhopeful
      April 16, 2021

      The utter fools are probably doing it because they have defence cooperations with the EU.
      If the vaccine war was not some psy-op charade surely it taught the thickest a lesson?

    4. Alan Jutson
      April 16, 2021


    5. Dennis
      April 16, 2021

      S_W – what are their jobs? Threatening the EU might be a good idea of some or perhaps attacking Costa Rica as they have no military defence. We need futile gestures at this stage.

    6. Ian Wragg
      April 16, 2021

      Or pay off perfectly good ships and submarines.

  6. agricola
    April 16, 2021

    Any real contest should be economic and ideas led , not territorial. The EU should make itself so desirable that in fact there is no contest. However the EU anti democratic model does not work. Put simply the powerhouse Germany cannot afford to finance the whole and I do not detect in Germany any desire to run Europe except by default. I can see Europe working as an association of independant democratic countries with their own currencies and financial control. They are not yet ready to sacrifice what illusion of democracy they have left for the benefit of a common currency. There is no overall democratic power structure they are willing to surrender their sovereignty to, certainly not the current EU. Put simply they need to return to the drawing board. Meanwhile Putins Russia should be contained and allowed to run its route to self implosion as did the USSR.

    1. Nig l
      April 16, 2021

      Mmm. I kind of agree but Germany is financing vast swathes of Southern Europe debt. Unless they are prepared to write off Greece/Italy etc how will they extricate themselves. I wonder to what extent their public understands how much they are in for.

      Equally will they want to go back to a perpetually strengthening DMark equivalent, at a time when their traditional manufacturing strengths are coming under pressure.

      The latest court case about the massive EU bail out fund, financed I guess indirectly mainly by Germany, may be a kicker and a sign that the German court is finally running out of patience with Brussels attempts to circumvent them:

    2. IanT
      April 16, 2021

      I agree Agricola.

      My German friends were willing but not happy to fund (through their tax bills) the re-unification of East & West Germany after the ‘fall of the wall’. However, they have never been willing to fund other parts of the EU that they see as being “wasteful and lazy”.

      Having lived & worked in both Italy and Germany, I had a slightly different perspective about life further south – with climate certainly being one reason that people had different work and cultural practices. However, I also had to agree that there were very real differences (e.g. problems) in the southern states when it came to high levels of official bureaucracy/inefficiency and embedded corruption.

      Some observers seem to think that it will be the Italians who decide to walk away from their debts, which after 20 years of zero GDP growth are growing larger, without the ability to devalue their currency given that it’s the Euro.

      However, my theory is that the Germans will grow tired of quietly funding other countries fiscal woes and will start to worry if they will ever see their money back. Angela Meckel’s reign is coming to an end and German politics are about to become a lot more volatile.

      1. Fedupsoutherner
        April 16, 2021

        Ian. I have yo agree with your comments of corruption. Indeed we experienced this on a large scale when living in Spain. Envelopes under the table and money under the mattress was rife.

    3. Bill B.
      April 16, 2021

      Yes, Agricola, as the US general (nearly) said: ‘Russia must be stopped from moving its borders closer to our NATO bases’.

  7. Nig l
    April 16, 2021

    Once again arrogant third party countries getting involved where they shouldn’t. Just look at the mess in Libya and Iraq, Blair. Bush. Cameron. Their hubris has destroyed what were relatively settled, albeit nasty, nations, leaving a fragmented mess to the disparate War Lords and greater internal terrorism threats.

    The Tory party supported Blair because it didn’t want to look weak. Again self interested politics over the needs of the country. I agree with other corespondents, stay out. Fat chance with macho politicians who never suffer, unlike families who have suffered both wasteful and needless deaths.

    And in other news we read the NHS has 4 million plus operations to catch up on. Boris came up with a usual meaningless blustering BS comment last night. Is anyone else like me getting fed up with these?

    The quote that mattered was from an NHS panjandrum immediately rebutting him saying we had to manage expectations and this backlog would take years (note the plural) . As yet apart from BS no sign of a plan or even an acknowledgment something needs to be done, so again families suffer.

    And finally we now know a civil servant had a second job earning £100k and more is leaking from the swamp. The scandal is the level of surprise being shown? Back in the day my terms of employment stated I could not take a second job (because it could compromise me etc) never got to venal senior service it seems.

  8. Nig l
    April 16, 2021

    Ps. In its defence the British Business Bank said it did its diligence on Greensill last year to justify its inclusion in a loan scheme. On the basis that within a year this company has folded allegedly owing billions does anyone think that this so called diligence was anything other than a light touch tick box exercise to justify getting money out the door.

    Understanding and finding the value in a vast consolidated balance sheet or individual ones sprinkled with inter company loans, guarantees, cross holdings etc, fast moving probably unaudited, is a complicated time consuming and skilled forensic job.

    I do not believe that the BBB has either the time or the ability. Lord Myners who does know his subject and equally knowledgeable fund managers had been raising red flags for some time but again our dear old public sector seems to have demonstrated a woeful lack of anything apart from wasting our money.

    Sir JR you should ask them to publish their diligence. They won’t of course citing confidentiality but that will be to hide their mistakes. The clients affairs are well into the public arena.

  9. Bryan Harris
    April 16, 2021

    I’d prefer to align with Russia any day over the EU if I were one of these countries seeking a trade/friendship agreement – Far less corruption in Russia for a start.

    Biden has things to prove which makes me mistrust anything he is involved in. If anybody could start WW3 this is the man.

    1. Dave Andrews
      April 16, 2021

      I’m not about to forget what happened in Salisbury and other places since, and they respond with deceit and denial.
      The leadership of Russia has had humanity surgically removed.
      Trade with them if you have to, just make sure they pay up front.

      1. Bryan Harris
        April 16, 2021

        You surely do not imagine the EU or the UK are any better.

        Just look at the virus situation and tell me the west is honest

  10. Peter
    April 16, 2021

    Closer to home, there are reports that the EU are refusing to ratify the agreement made in December.

    More reason to go to WTO terms – although this government will not consider doing so.

    Let’s get this issue resolved before worrying about the US Russian relationship.

    1. Dennis
      April 16, 2021

      I’m not au fait with the present UK/EU wrangling but why won’t the EU ratify when that ties the UK up in knots, just what they want, no?

      1. Lastgasp
        April 16, 2021

        They won’t ratify because they don’t trust the British.. the way they see it if there is any chance the UK would renege again on parts or any part of the agreement they don’t want to know.. they are not going to waste their time anymore they have other things to do

  11. Iain gill
    April 16, 2021

    Our descent into third world status speeds up, as we have 7 hour queues to get through the Heathrow airport terminal when entering the country, making it quicker to come by dinghy to Dover, as our best intellectual property weeps abroad ever faster where it’s used to undercut us using child labour and all the rest. As the politicians load ever more extra costs onto the economy on green ideas lacking in basic understanding of the science. As anyone with mainstream views is targeted by the establishment and forced to keep quiet.

    We do need a reset but not the one Davos has in mind, and one which seems unlikely to come from our current political parties.

    1. No Longer Anonymous
      April 16, 2021

      And forget any reliance on home reared food. As with any poor nation that gets sold to be consumed by richer bidders abroad.

  12. Hat man
    April 16, 2021

    Russia gained influence in Syria in 2015-16 while Obama was US president, not Trump. Russia gained that influence because it offered military support to the government-controlled areas being threatened by the Islamist head-choppers. Trump continued the previous US policy of occupying Syrian oilfields in the North-East of the country, and letting militant groups sell off Syrian oil via Turkey. So the US remained involved in that war under Trump just as much as under Obama. He hardly changed anything in the Syrian situation during his period in office, and of course the regime change fanatics in Washington were not happy with him for that.

  13. Andy
    April 16, 2021

    Countries are – literally – queuing up to join the EU. Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania are all candidate countries. Serbia, Bosnia, Moldova are all interested. One day Turkey, Kosovo, Ukraine will all join too.

    Nobody is queuing up to join the thug Putin. He might try to take some over but the EU doesn’t need bombs and troops and poisons to get countries to join. The peace and prosperity EU membership brings are a big enough attraction.

    1. MiC
      April 16, 2021

      Yeah, but all those countries wanting to join are all a bit weird aren’t they? I mean, they’re all the same, all foreign innit?

      I’m glad we ain’t. It must be great for them when we visit, meeting people who ain’t foreign for once, eh?

      1. No Longer Anonymous
        April 16, 2021

        We did not vote to join a bloc of 30 odd nations. We voted to join a trading area of Northern European states of similar standing.

        We were perfectly happy with ‘foreigners’ and the British working class have done admirably in producing mixed race babies.

        1. MiC
          April 17, 2021




          We voted to join something which was expressly intended to evolve into something very much like the European Union is today.

          By over two to one.

    2. MWB
      April 16, 2021

      Any organisation that admits Albania, is one to steer clear of.

    3. Alan Jutson
      April 16, 2021

      Yes, they are all looking for handouts, thank goodness we left just in time.

      Perhaps they should speak to Greece and Italy first to see what they have to give up in exchange.

    4. IanT
      April 16, 2021

      “The peace and prosperity EU membership brings are a big enough attraction.”

      I always like these broad sweeping statements that are remarkably lacking in fact Andy. Let’s get specific.

      Italy is the third largest (by population) country in the EU/Euro zone. It has achieved zero GDP growth over a period of 20 years and has increasing levels of national debt that it simply cannot repay. Greece was allowed to join the Euro in 2001 (despite not meeting the EU’s own rules) and defaulted on it’s debts in 2015. Greece, the birthplace of democracy is now effectively governed from Brussels.

      There are now only nine EU countries that are net positive contributors (‘givers’) to the EU’s budget – the rest are net negative contributors (‘takers’). You give a long list of small countries wanting to join the EU but don’t mention that all of them will likely be ‘takers’ not ‘givers’. One of the perceived advantages for (smaller) members of the EU was the selective carrot of Brussels fiscal bungs. If the number of ‘takers’ continues to increase and the number of ‘givers’ remains static or declines further (the UK was the second largest contributor before Brexit) there will be a diminishing cash-pot to share between the takers – because frankly the remaining ‘givers’ are not going to cough up more money going forward – they have their own problems.

    5. Peter2
      April 16, 2021

      Glad to see you now finally accept Turkey will join the EU.
      Having abused many on here for a very long time when they said that.
      Revisionism is what the left do.
      Soon you will be telling us you knew all along.
      Don’t forget to tell Nick Clegg.

      1. Andy
        April 16, 2021

        I didn’t ever say Turkey wouldn’t join the EU. I don’t doubt it will one day. I also don’t doubt it will be many years.

        I also fully reject leave’s fraudulent claim that, even if Turkey did join, 70m Turkish rapists would all come here. For a start, if you leave in beautiful beach-side Turkey or in glorious Istanbul why would you want to give that up to move to whatever dump of a town you live in?

        It’s probably more of a worry for Turkey that millions of useless British pensioners would invade demanding beer and kebabs.

        1. Peter2
          April 16, 2021

          Yes you did Andy
          Don’t deny it.
          You called people fantasists for even suggesting Turkey would one day join the EU

    6. agricola
      April 16, 2021

      In reality the EU needs a string of dependant countries like a hole in the head. Who will pay for their modernisation, an eager Germany perhaps? The EU has just lost its second largest nett provider. By all means bring those countries into close trading ties and harmony in law but do not expect the citizens of the nett provider countries of the EU to fund it all, they have more tban sufficient unfinished business in their Mediteranean and Eastern European member cohntries to deal with. Unemployment would be a good starter for resolution.

      You are absolutely correct about Russia, but don’t for one moment believe that the peace in Europe is EU led, they cannot even vaccinate their population, NATO is what restrains Russia.

    7. SM
      April 16, 2021

      Well, the history of that whole area (going back centuries, but from the C18th forward would be sufficient) will sadly tell you that they will probably be at each others’ throats once again if they do join up: ethnicity, religion, custom, historic sense of entitlement, incessantly replayed regardless of who is supposed to be in authority.

    8. Dennis
      April 16, 2021

      Those countries are wanting to join up with the EU for money, what else? If Putin could do the same they would be clamouring to join Russia. Get real Andy.

      1. ChrisS
        April 17, 2021

        Exactly, Dennis.

        The Brussels elite is bribing countries to join in order to expand the empire and to strengthen the EU’s position in the world, and the personal importance of the Presidents, at the financial expense of the few net contributor countries.

        The financial support given is enormous so why wouldn’t a country that has never experienced proper sovereignty not want to join ? Any poor country joining sees huge financial benefits for at least a decade before the disadvantages of being dictated to and the economic consequences of being forced to join the Euro become apparent.

        The low exchange rate of the Euro makes membership hugely beneficial for Germany, but how long will the likes of The Netherlands, Austria and Finland put up with the cost of financing it all ?

    9. Original Richard
      April 16, 2021

      Andy, I’m sure you’re correct that all the countries you mention are keen to join the EU to become net recipients of large quantities of EU cash.

      Plus all those “stan” countries as far as the Urals as suggested by Mr. Cameron in his 2013 Kazakhstan speech.

      However, I voted to leave to end our taxes being used to improve the infrastructure of our low wage competitors or to be used to provide subsidies for corporates to move their factories out of the UK.

      I also wanted an end to freedom of movement to curb EU immigration and consequently our population growth and thus reduce the pressure on our housing, schools, healthcare, social services, infrastructure and environment.

      1. Andy
        April 16, 2021

        You voted for a lie then. Because it was always false to claim EU subsidies paid for British factories to relocate. I know it was a well spread leave lie – and that many of you are still foolish enough to believe it. But I’m afraid the stories you parrot about Cadbury and JLR and Ford are all untrue. The EU did not pay for any of them to move.

        As for infrastructure, you do not appear to understand how it works. Better infrastructure makes us ALL richer. How? Those better roads in Poland allow lorries to make their journeys more quickly, which makes the delivery process more effective which lowers the cost for consumers – ie) you.

        But your xenophobic argument holds because, like most Brexitists, your dislike of foreigners was no doubt your primary motivation for your leave vote. Interestingly, though, it tends not to be immigrants from Europe than most of you object too.

        How are your fish exports going? Chortle.

        1. Peter2
          April 16, 2021

          Cop out Andy.
          They arranged the cheap relocation loans for companies that moved out of the UK

        2. No Longer Anonymous
          April 16, 2021

          The 1975 referendum did not include such expansion.

    10. Fedupsoutherner
      April 16, 2021

      Andy, yes, all dirt poor and keen for a handout. Many of those countries hate each other, in particular Croatia and Bosnia. There are still underlying problems between them.

    11. Mike Wilson
      April 16, 2021

      And will they be net contributors? No chance. How many more handouts must Germans be forced to make?

  14. nota#
    April 16, 2021

    Sir John
    Isn’t that what is wrong with Society – the World! Some are so wound up with wanting to dominate, wanting to dictate that only their way is perfect for all, they miss the bigger picture – we are all in every sense different. Its that difference that makes the human race, remove that and what do you get?

    The conspiracy theory of the ‘Great Reset’ gets confirmed each and everyday by those that have grabbed power. The World Powers mostly do not have a Democratic bone in their body, the fight it daily, the ignore it always, as such they create more problems than they solve and if you follow their logic through the are the corrupt evil that exist amongst us.

    George Orwell wasn’t writing the Bible, he was ushering a warning.

    1. Fred.H
      April 16, 2021

      The stories presented from many ancient documents, translated to suit the editor, known as the Bible are contested or shown to be impossible all over the world. However I don’t see the works and dire warnings written by Eric Blair contested.

      1. nota#
        April 17, 2021

        @Fred.H – there are lots of Bibles, However, George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ was only ever meant as a warning to society to be careful what they wish for. We now have Governments taking his writings as a literal reference point as to how the should rule and maintain power.

  15. The Prangwizard
    April 16, 2021

    All the while the Tory party and government is cutting our defence forces – but claiming the cuts are only short term. ‘Boris’ bluffs on.

    1. Ian Wragg
      April 16, 2021

      It started with Cameron and Clog cutting up assets in their 2010 review. The tories have a poor record vi’s a vi’s the armed forces.

  16. jerry
    April 16, 2021

    History is again important. Of course the real origins of all this was back in 1989/90, and the collapse and break up of the USSR that followed, something our host’s party (the UK Govt at the time) supported and welcomed, even suggested there would be a post cold war dividend – when all it has brought is eco-worrying from the left-wing and strife in Eastern Europe.

    It is even possible that Crimea wasn’t even annexed by Russia in 2014, it having been a part of, and governed by Russia (later the USSR) since the late 1700s, until 1954 when administration was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR, at the time a part of the USSR, the legality of this transfer has since been questioned.

  17. John Pilcher
    April 16, 2021

    Syria and Russia have been allies since 1947. Russia has it’s only mediterranean seaport in Syria. Russian military moved in to Syria in 2015, Obama was POTUS at the time. Trump took office in 2017.

  18. No Longer Anonymous
    April 16, 2021

    Russia is right to want a buffer zone between it and the insidious and hegemonic EU and the bear poking US.

    Now Russia is an enemy and is allied with China (which has seen record economic and military growth because of the pandemic it started.)

    Big mistake by the West. HUGE.

  19. nota#
    April 16, 2021

    What is the difference of those wishing to Dominate through spheres of influence and the cancel/WOKE culture?

    They are both saying the same thing, its our way, you must obey.

    Is the new breed of Snowflakes( Those with an unwarranted sense of entitlement, overly-emotional, not-resilient, easily offended, and unable to deal with opposing views) the result of the trickle down created and crafted by those that have grabbed power for their own personal esteem and unable to recognise or understand difference and how to channel it for the betterment of all.

    Most of us grew up in the knowledge that our species was the Human Race – that is the only part of our identity’s sameness, even though we all share the same DNA. What make the Human Race great is the difference in it characters and abilities. Now Governments, their laws and the noisy minority want us to recognise there is now a different race amongst us, without defining what it is.

    The Worlds Despot leaders are beginning to reap all that they have sown. The great Communist’s/Socialist reset, to create a World in your own image you first have to tear down the existing one.

    1. Henry
      April 16, 2021

      Thank you, you can obviously see the trees whilst in the woods.

  20. Peter Gardner
    April 16, 2021

    “The decision of Ukraine to change Presidents and draw closer to the EU was seen as a reversal by Russia and led to their annexation of Crimea, claimed as part of Russia with a population said to be strongly in favour of joining Russia. ”

    It was hardly a free choice by Ukraine. My recollection is that Angela Merkel told the president of Ukraine he must choose between Russia and the EU and cannot be neutral or have any kind of buffer status. That Putin would respond by annexing Crimea or something similar was perfectly obvious. Yet she persisted, caring not a jot for the consequences. It was one of the most crass acts of diplomacy since 1914. It was as if she was deliberately provoking war, not too dissimilar to her predecessors in 1914.

  21. Chris S
    April 16, 2021

    The best way the EU can avoid causing more trouble in Eastern Europe is to keep out of it and not try to become a rival world power to compete with China and the US.

    The annexation of Crimea was as a direct result of ill-considered and clumsy interventions by the EU that regretably started under Ashton who, with no previous experience whatsoever, was given the job of “High Representative” by the Commission at the behest of Gordon Brown. Whatever was he thinking ?

    Diplomacy is a delicate art best practiced by old hands such as our own Foreign Office and that in Paris. Yet as soon as the EU decided to muscle in, it waded in wearing enormous hobnail boots. Brussels even manages to makes Washington look effective at diplomacy.

  22. Norman
    April 16, 2021

    Meanwhile the barbarism of Islamists in northern Mozambique continues, with a million displaced and at risk of starving. With beheading, amputation and flaying of innocent citizens, no wonder they are fleeing. Where are the former forces for good, to intervene on behalf of the poor and oppressed, as in Sierra Leone? What a sick world!

  23. formula57
    April 16, 2021

    Let us trust President Biden is cognizant that the Evil Empire is ready to fight to the last American. I am certain President Putin knows this.

  24. Richard1
    April 16, 2021

    Both the current french and German govts have attempted to ingratiate themselves with Putin. Both gave very pusillanimous support to the U.K. when Russia murdered a citizen and attempted other murders on our streets. (Unlike Trump who kicked out dozens of Russian ‘diplomats’). The EU’s foreign minister was made a fool of in Moscow, and Merkel seems adamant on the pipeline which will mean Russia has this and future German govts over a barrel in any serious dispute, as well as undermining Eastern European countries such as Ukraine.

    The best hope for the West is a re-invigorated NATO, which should be expanded to include Australia, India, S Korea Japan and NZ. As we saw in the Balkans in the 90s, the EU attempting to operate as a power is dangerously useless.

    1. DOM
      April 16, 2021

      ‘As we saw in the Balkans in the 90s, the EU attempting to operate as a power is dangerously useless.’

      Never a more perceptive sentence than this one. The EU is a rag tag mess of confusion, disorganisation and conflicting national self-interests.

      Putin’s a leader of an authoritarian state but at least he’s a leader. We haven’t had one of those since MT. We so desperately need one now to counteract the enemy within both parties that seek to destroy our world, our freedoms and our identity

  25. Everhopeful
    April 16, 2021

    Having lived under the terrible rule of the EU I would choose Russia.
    Except for the stories of escaping ballet dancers and athletes that is and remembering Solzhenitsyn…mind you…UK now needs similar.
    Maybe the problem is actually the ghastly trade blocs which can not wait to become political?
    Clumping together becomes highly inefficient and draconian and in an “ emergency”, as seen in vaccine wars, offers no “united” security. Cos they all become nationalists again 😂!

    …. “And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death…..” Macbeth.

  26. mickc
    April 16, 2021

    “The decision of Ukraine to change Presidents….”
    Surely that should read “the decision of the USA and EU to change the Ukraine President…..”
    The USA likes its vassal states to have governments it approves of, and which will make the “right decisions”.
    Happily, despite US disapproval, and a strong counter attack by Remainers, the UK’s democratic decision to leave the EU was actually carried out.

  27. Andy
    April 16, 2021

    The EU has already won this battle. Nobody will willingly join Russia. Putin is a thug. Russia is undemocratic and poor.

    But plenty more countries will join the EU. Whilst the EU is very far from perfect we need to recognise what a huge success it has been for Europe. This is a continent which was perpetually ravaged by war between its countries for centuries. The EU and its predecessors have made war between EU countries unthinkable – in just one generation.

    The boomers forget this. They, mistakenly, assume peace is a given because they have enjoyed it in expanding democratic Europe for their entire lives. How wrong the boomers are.

    My father was born the month after the concentration camps were liberated at the end of WW2. When I was born – in the 70s – Spain and Greece were dictatorships. I was finishing school when the Berlin Wall came down and Eastern Europe joined the club of democracies. And then, in the 1990s, I was at university when there was genocide in the Balkans. Dubrovnik was the Aleppo of the 90s. Look at how a quarter of a century has changed it. Thanks to the EU.

    Most of you hark back to the war and worship Thatcher. You do not understand how irrelevant Thatcher is to us today. 1980 is half way between today and 1939. Thatcher is as ancient history to us as 1939 was to you.

    Everyone born since the early 70s has been a European Union citizen for all of their adult lives. Everyone born since the early 90s had been an Eu citizen their whole life. We mostly liked this and had it taken away by old people. In due course we’ll take it back.

    1. agricola
      April 16, 2021

      I begin to understand where you are coming from. Having been born ito the EU you realise there are much worse regimes at loose in our world, but fail to comprehend that there could be anything better. Rest assured that there can be, being sovereign and in control of your own destiny is fundamentally better. Having experienced the EUs reaction to the concept of democratic self determination since end 2020 I for one am comfortable with the decision. I suspect that the weight of leave will have increased considerably in the last four months. I also suspect that the EU in its present form is unsustainable. If it changes dramatically you may have something to return to.
      Be clear in your mind, peace in Europe has never been down to the EU, it has been sustained by the existence of NATO, end of story.

    2. Fred.H
      April 16, 2021

      so Andy who did the ravaging for centuries?

    3. jon livesey
      April 16, 2021

      This is a standard EU fallacy. To see through it, you just have to ask if the existence of the EU enabled peace in Europe, or if the US-brokered peace in Europe enabled the creation of the EU.

      And it’s not a coin toss. In 1948 there were quite serious proposals for Europe to become a “third force” in World affairs. This was quite plausible at the time, since apart from the US and USSR most of the World was either gross;y undeveloped, or devastated by the recent war, leaving a “place” for Europe to expand its influence.

      But what happened was that Europe decided that it had no ability even to defend itself without US help, let alone try to create its own influence in the World. It was at that point that Attlee and Bevan approached the US to propose the creation of NATO, which involved the reversal of the US’ withdrawal of its forces from Europe.

      The sequence of events does not admit of more than one interpretation. The US pacified and defended Europe from the Forties to the Seventies, after which Europe was at last able to take its first, tentative baby steps towards common action. The EU is nothing more than a modestly successful outcome of US foreign policy, and we don’t even know how long it will last. Europe has seen and trumpeted “permanent peace” before, only to fall back into its bad old habits for the umpteenth time..

    4. Peter2
      April 16, 2021

      Peace was provided by NATO decades before the EU ever existed Andy.

      1. MiC
        April 17, 2021

        The European Union has maintained peace *in spite of* NATO’s best efforts.

  28. SecretPeople
    April 16, 2021

    Sir John, you write:
    “President Trump did let Russia gain influence in Syria ” – but I was under the impression Syria welcomed and invited Russia’s involvement (unlike that of Turkey who forced their way in)?

  29. Newmania
    April 16, 2021

    When I was a young chap it was the fashion to cleverly discover equivalences between the Soviet Union and America. I am afraid I was that awful self righteous prig who squeaked .,..,,.” Oh really if you can`t tell the difference try living in them “… oh dear oh dear ….
    ..and yet as I read John Redwood`s um….”contribution” , I find myself thinking along much the same lines as so many years ago.

  30. Philip P.
    April 16, 2021

    The Crimean population that you claim, Sir John, is ‘said to be strongly in favour of joining Russia’, is overwhelmingly Russian-speaking, and two-thirds ethnically Russian, so the referendum result was no real surprise. They are probably also influenced by the fact of rising economic prosperity in Russia since 2000, as compared with the stagnation of the standard of living in Ukraine during that time. So Crimea is a non-issue by now, unless you’re a Cold War 2 die-hard determined to get a US fleet based at Sebastopol.

  31. agricola
    April 16, 2021

    As we emerge from lockdown and gain herd immunity thanks to a well concieved and executed vaccination programme we have one major health challenge. The backlog of operations that are required due to them being set aside while Covid was dealt with. One friend in the health business told me that in his area the waiting time for a hip operation was now five years.

    It would seem obvious to me that this cannot be eaten into with existing personnel and facilities however well we make use of them. We need the same level of entrepreneurial thinking that devised the vaccine programme, to be applied with No 10 direction, to the operative backlog. We need capacity. If you have or can organise theatre capacity you can first consider importing surgeons and support staff. Another thought is to detect capacity overseas and ship patients out to that capacity. You can fly Australia return for about £600. As a propotion of the cost of a hip replacement, guesstimate £12,000, it is nothing. Charter whole aircraft and the unit cost reduces. If we really wish to make a significant dent in the backlog this is the level of thinking required. Put another Lord Beaverbrooke think alike in charge of the project.

    1. SM
      April 17, 2021

      Why on earth not utilise whatever capacity the private sector has, RIGHT NOW, both for diagnosis and treatment of straightforward cases? Who knows, some NHS management might even pick up a few tips on how to organise patients/treatments/finances ~ well, one can always dream.

      1. agricola
        April 17, 2021

        Problem is that the consultants work for both NHS and in a private capacity in many cases. We need to look for consultant capacity elsewhere.

  32. forthurst
    April 16, 2021

    Following the coup d’etat in Ukraine engineered by Western Intelligence, 14,000 Ukrainians have been killed in a civil war with the majority being non-combatants. It would be a mistake to assume that those fighting represent a small diehard minority to the extreme East of the country. Prior to the coup d’etat, Viktor Yanukovytch had been elected President with a majority over Yulia Tymoshenko whose platform was alignment with the West. At that time, Ukraine was evenly split between the two opposing political camps and evenly split between the East and West of the country along those same lines.

    With Biden in the White House, Western arms have been pouring into Ukraine and NATO has been ‘training’ Ukrainian forces. With the President of Ukraine having declared war on Russia with the backing of the West by threatening to take Crimea by force and having moved war materiel up to the front line, Putin has responded by moving his forces to the borders of Ukraine including via

    Russia has ceased to refer to the West as ‘partners’ and has clearly recognised that those who control Western foreign policy now are deeply hostile to any country that rejects Western ‘liberalism’ including ‘Critical Theory’ and doesn’t cow-tow to their self-aggrandisement or their ambition to turn every other country in the world like ourselves into satrapies.

    There is every indication that Putin has decided to call the West’s bluff and seize a large chunk of Ukraine in the South East of the country, depriving the West of the possibility of deploying maritime forces to the Sea of Azov and shoring up the frontier of Crimea to the North.

    We wait with baited breath as Biden addresses the Russian and Chinese menace in the East and that of white supremacism in the West. Will the good guy triumph over the badies as in the comic strips?

  33. Everhopeful
    April 16, 2021

    Guardian 15th April 2021
    “Senior government officials have raised “urgent” concerns about the mass expansion of rapid coronavirus testing, estimating that as few as 2% to 10% of positive results may be accurate in places with low Covid rates, such as London”.

    Based on “leaked” e mails.

    One wheel on my wagon….lalala…..

    1. glen cullen
      April 16, 2021

      NHS Track & Trace has to justify its continued existence (another 18mths) and enormous budget

  34. Fred.H
    April 16, 2021

    The average number of new daily cases in the UK has fallen substantially since the start of the year, but the rate of decline has slowed in recent weeks.
    Last week, the government changed the way cases in England are reported. Cases that were identified using a lateral flow test have been removed if the person subsequently took a PCR test and tested negative within three days.
    This means 8,010 cases have been removed from the case data causing the overall total to fall.

    8000 false positives using lateral flow tests. Imagine the fear, upset and lifestyle changes caused by inaccurate testing!

    1. glen cullen
      April 16, 2021

      Our lockdowns and destroying the economy was indeed based upon false positives and inaccurate testing

  35. jon livesey
    April 16, 2021

    All Russian Governments of any ideology have had to earn their popularity by how they were perceived to have advanced Russian interests.

    While some westerners saw Communism as the big threat in the Thirties, and others even more naive saw Communism as a positive force in the Fifties and Sixties, what was really going on was an advancement and consolidation of Russia’s strategic position. When Russia’s economy ran out of gas in the Eighties and collapsed, it took Communism with it, showing that the ideology was just a convenient cover for what was really national expansionism and eventual decline.

    Putin knows that his own popularity and survival depends on keeping Russia as a significant player, and he will keep doing that. He’s also in a position to keep doing it fairly successfully. Just look at a map of Crimea and ask if Ukraine can be defended against firm Russian pressure.

  36. hefner
    April 17, 2021

    For anybody interested in the Ukraine ‘developments’ there has been a series of articles/essays on over the last few years.
    First three readings are free, after that the annual subscription is about £40 giving access to all past papers since (it seems) the ‘80s. There are 176 such documents related to Ukraine some long some short. I will not pretend to have read them all … but what I found interesting:
    – The rise of strategic corruption – How states weaponize graft, P. Zelikov et al., July/August 2020.
    – To heal the TransAtlantic rift, Biden should look to Central and Eastern Europe, M. Eristavi, 16/11/2020.
    – The price of peace in the Donbass, T. Graham, J. Haberman, 25/02/2020.
    – The shoals of Ukraine, S. Plokhy, M. Sarotte, Jan/Feb 2020.
    – The peril of polling in Crimea, D. Kulcha, 21/04/2020.
    – How to contain Putin’s Russia, M. McFaul, 19/01/2021.
    – The oligarchs who lost Ukraine and Washington, M. Carpenter, 26/11/2019.
    – Can the West prevent the slow strangulation of Ukraine, P. Dickinson, 05/12/2018.
    – When Ukraine lost Donetsk, A. Motyl, 22/01/2015.

    Interestingly Foreign Affairs says it offers ‘a forum for the opinions of others, expressing no opinion of our own’, which at times can be so soothing, letting one figure out their own path instead of being led up the garden path.

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