Minsk II

On Wednesday Mrs Merkel takes a few hours off from the Euro crisis to appear in Minsk with France, Ukraine and Russia to see if they can reach a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis.

Russia will want the west to put on hold any ideas of arming the Kiev government, and will ask about recent NATO deployments. Russia will also want to know when and how the Ukrainian government will stop shelling its own citizens in East Ukraine. The Ukraine government will want guarantees of no further Russian support for UKrainian citizens in armed revolt against the Kiev government, and will argue that much of the violence has come from rebels armed by Russia. France and Germany will presumably urge caution and peace on both sides, and will seek to reach an agreement based loosely on the positions the two sides currently occupy. There is talk of a demilitarised zone around the present front line between the two forces.

It is difficult to know how the Ukraine government can pick up the pieces and offer fair and peaceful government to the whole country after what it has done to some of its civilians. The Kiev government will not want to trust the armed rebels, or forgive them their attacks. Similarly the rebels will not easily accept Kiev sovereignty, and will distrust the Kiev government. It may be possible to draw up new lines, allowing parts of East Ukraine a large measure of self government based on the territories the two sides have now established. The longer a peaceful solution takes, the more likely the rebels will want full independence and the less likely Kiev will wish to give it to them.

This is a huge test for the politicians and officials and involved. Most of the west does not want a war with Russia, but nor does it wish to see an easy Russian victory. Condemning Russian military intervention is the easy part of the response. Finding a way to resolve the conflict on acceptable terms is altogether more difficult. Delay in finding a diplomatic solution both sides can accept makes a prolonged war in Ukraine more likely, and increases the risk of a wider flare up in violence. It is a great pity the EU started out on its expansionist course with the Ukraine without properly considering the likely reaction of pro Russian people inside Ukraine, and the ability of Russia to give them support.

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  1. Gary
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    the UK / USA axis are very nervous about developing events. Germany, completely dependent on Russian gas and France supplying warships to Russia, hold a closed door leadership meeting with Putin. What if these two are turning away from the bankrupt, unproductive west and towards Eurasia, despite America’s best disruptive efforts ? Eurasia , a market of 3 billion+ highly productive people with virtually no debt and huge growth. Russia with the largest natural resources in the world.

    This could make the transatlantic alliance/ Anglosphere irrelevant?

    • mitchel
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Indeed,it would make sense for Germany to cut loose from the deadweight of bankrupt southern Europe and join Russia and China and their trade partner networks.At Davos,Merkel was floating the idea of a Lisbon-to-Vladivostock free trade area as a carrot to Russia to engage in a settlement of the Ukraine dispute.Not sure how that would fit with existing EU structures though!

      However,I find myself amazed that Merkel should have been surprised at how this situation has developed.If she knows President Putin and Russia as well as commentators say,she should have known what Russia’s reaction would have been to Western encroachment in Ukraine and she would also have been aware that Russia has been re-arming and modernising its military for some years,making armed intervention unthinkable for Western Europeans.Why did she not use her position of power to restrain the EU?

    • Jerry
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      @Gary; “What if [Germany & France] are turning away from the bankrupt, unproductive west and towards Eurasia”

      I doubt Merkel would risk it, not with Russia and many of their old USSR ways, whilst she kept her head down before the fall of the Iron curtain she was far from happy with life in the old GDR/USSR – I suspect the reason Merkel was dispatched to Russia and a meeting with Putin was the simple fact that she speaks fluent Russian and has a deep understanding of “Russian ways”.

      @mitchel; Was Germany actively supporting either EU or NATO encroachment in Ukraine, they are certainly not to happy with the current talk coming out of the USA regarding sending lethal arms to the eastern Ukraine.

      • Jerry
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, that should have read western Ukraine – more haste less speed!

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 11, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        You appear to have a short memory, Jerry; this report about the last EPP congress, held in Dublin, is from only eleven months ago:


        “EU centre-right leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Poland’s Donald Tusk, have given the strongest support so far for Ukraine’s hopes to join the EU one day.”

        “Earlier at the Dublin congress, Ukraine opposition leaders Yulia Tymoshenko and Vitali Klitschko got standing ovations by the EPP elite.

        Chancellor Merkel said that “Ukrainian people have the same right for freedom and democracy as we have in the EU.”

        She added: “And the same goes for the people in Moldova, Georgia, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan,” referring to the other countries in the EU’s “Eastern Partnership” policy on former Soviet Europe.”

        And neither she, nor Cameron or indeed Clegg or Miliband, would bother to ask you or me what we thought about that proposal, any more than our politicians have ever bothered to ask us directly about past enlargements from Greece in 1981 right up to Croatia in 2013.

  2. Rita Webb
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Can someone explain to me why the Ukraine is so important to the UK and USA so much so that it is worth endangering Europe’s peace and security? After all we did not bat an eyelid to other readjustments of the post Soviet territorial settlement e.g. Abkhazia, South Ossetia or the Transdniester republic. Its nice to see Dave fulfilling his “heir to Blair” role again, this time copying what Blair was doing with the Americans in the run up to the invasion of Iraq.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      I cannot speak about the Yanks, but as for us, since we surrendered our own Foreign Policy in exchange for a ‘Common Foreign’, ie an EU Foreign Policy under the egis of the European External Action Service, once headed by, Baroness ‘Oh gosh’ Cathy Ashton.Essentially we have to do what the ‘others’ want, even if its against our own interests, or of no interest at all. Countries like Poland, the Baltic States etc, have serious, ‘Daddy issues’ with Russia.

      Once again, we are being dragged into another European hate-fest when, common sense dictates that we stay out.


      • VeronicaZ
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        Mark B you have hit the nail on the head! Western Europe is being dragged into a group with revenging attitudes (Daddy issues, as you called them).These ex-soviet states were all invited into Nato to humiliate Russia during its weakened transitional period in the 90’s and they couldn’t wait to join so as to give the ‘finger’ to Russia whilst hiding behind the legs of the West. They inadvertently made themselves targets as Russia now see their Nato membership as a threat as the US is happy to fight a war on anyone’s soil but their own. The irony is if they had have remained neutral Russia nor the US would have bothered them or used them for proxy scuffles (not wars, but scuffles). The US is also terrified of eventually becoming less relevant/dominant in geopolitics, they won’t go out without a fight and god help the rest of us while the try to weaken and destabilise the relationships between the rest of us…. If this were a school yard we would say the US are being nasty etc ed

    • DaveM
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      Well, from a cynical point of view (which is always fun);

      1. It’s not important to the UK but it’s important to the PM because he has to be seen to be siding with the other two leaders of the EU (who are currently playing statesman games even though they’re so far out of their depth it’s laughable). The EU is desperate to show that it can be regarded as a power of some sort even though it has no military to pursue its half-baked foreign policy.

      2. The USA doesn’t want to be left out – Obama is not the most popular President in history and is trying to salvage some credibility on the world stage and at home, not realising that Putin is thanking his lucky stars that he’s only got to deal with Obama rather than a more competent President.

      3. The USA will want the UK to be involved as part of the EU because Obama doesn’t want the UK to leave the EU just in case it does better by itself and undoes decades of hard work by his predecessors in suppressing the success of the UK. Plus, if the USA does anything at all it needs the UK to hold its hand so it doesn’t have another Vietnam.

      But as far as the PEOPLE of the UK and the USA are concerned, most don’t really give a toss.

      • Mark B
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:08 pm | Permalink


        I have to confess. Your reply was much better. And probably a lot more accurate.


      • fedupsouthener
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

        Brilliantly put Dave!

    • A different Simon
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Before the Russian’s agreed to the wall coming down the West assured them they did not have expansionist ambitions .

      Yeah right …. the cheque is in the post ….

      It disappoints me that our main stream media are selling this as Russian aggression when it is in fact blatant E.U. expansionism .

      To answer your question , Putin stands in the way of the advance towards world government . That is why they want to bring him down ; so they can supplant him with their (probably ex G.S.) puppet .

      Putin believes in sovereign nation states ; a concept LibLabCon believe to be out dated .

      • Jerry
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        @ADS; Nice “world government” rant! “Putin believes in sovereign nation states”, like hell, Putin in on record regretting the collapse of the old USSR!..

        • A different Simon
          Posted February 10, 2015 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

          There is nothing wrong with looking back with rose tinted spectacles .

          What is important is where we are going .

          Surely you don’t believe that the EU hierarchy cares any more about the people at the bottom of the foodchain than our own Govt ?

          Can you honestly say you aren’t worried about the anti-democratic nature of the EU and legal system which does not attempt to protect the individual from an abusive state ?

          • Jerry
            Posted February 11, 2015 at 9:05 am | Permalink

            @ADS; “There is nothing wrong with looking back with rose tinted spectacles “

            Except that is not what Putin is doing, many of his policies seem designed to restore the old USSR in name if not in body.

            Can you honestly say you aren’t worried about the anti-democratic nature of the EU and legal system which does not attempt to protect the individual from an abusive state ?”

            There are plenty of examples of how the UK state, within the supposed UK legal concept of innocent until proven beyond (reasonable) doubt guilty, has eroded protection of the individual – from locking people for extended periods before any requirement to place the facts before a judge to the keeper of a motor vehicle having to prove who was driving the vehicle, never mind perhaps having to prove that the vehicle is not their own and was on rigged plates, should some automated camera capture the representation of said vehicle. What is more many of those erosions of have brought the UK government into conflict with the EU or ECHR in recent years, so it’s a moot point as to who is doing the more harm, the EU or our own domestic government.

        • Mitchel
          Posted February 11, 2015 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          President Putin’s description of the collapse of the Soviet Union as a tragedy is frequently (and sometimes wilfully) taken out of context-I believe what he meant was that,as a result of that collapse, there was no longer any restraining influence on the USA…..many people would agree with him on that point.
          His most telling comment for me was :
          “Whoever does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart, whoever wants it back has no brain”

          • A different Simon
            Posted February 11, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

            Well I think I’ve found some candidates which fit into the heartless , brainless category :-

            “The most puzzling development in politics during the last decade is the apparent determination of Western European leaders to re-create the Soviet Union in Western Europe.”

            Mikhail Gorbachev

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    It is indeed a great pity the EU took this course, but then so very much of what the EU does is a disaster in the making. Bureaucrat do not really care if what they are doing is sensible or not – so long as they can get funding for it then “group think” tends to take over. The EU is essentially, group think bureaucrats totally out of control.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 6:56 am | Permalink

      More nonsense from Newsnight last night on tax havens. The UK with (the very sensibly retained) Osborne NonDom laws is one of the best tax havens going – for anyone who can qualify. Then we have the usual total non answer from Rowan Williams to the Steven Fry’s version of the pearly gates question.

      Why on earth would any organisation purporting to be, a place of serious learning such as Magdalene College, Cambridge want someone like Dr Rowan Williams with his Doctorate in Divinity as Master? Surely it sends out entirely the wrong signal? Still I suppose it is less damaging & costly than having someone of the catastrophic AGW religion – though the two belief systems (and indeed susceptibility to irrational belief systems in general) does so often seem to go together.

      • Mark B
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:44 am | Permalink


        It depends on what signals you wish to send ? eg “Look after me, and I will look after you !”, perhaps ?

        Remember – It’s ‘who’, not ‘what’ you know that matters. 😉

        • Margaret Brandreth-J
          Posted February 10, 2015 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

          Mark , in today’s world who you know doesn’t count. We are a world of back stabbers.Trust has been eroded to such an extent that even your best friend would stitch you up.

          • A different Simon
            Posted February 10, 2015 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

            Where you went to school clearly does count though .

            Ask those jolly good fellows the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister .

            It is a reflection on something and I don’t believe it is on state schools .

            The American Dream is just about alive but opportunity and social mobility for the masses is a thing of the past here in Blighty .

            The future is serfdom .

          • Lifelogic
            Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

            And I though I was perhaps too cynical! Do you have the right sort of friends?

          • Mark B
            Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

            From my perspective, and that of my brother, who I was discussing something a long these lines sometime ago, I am afraid I am correct.

            But I would imagine that you are in yours.


      • agricola
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        The weakness in our non dom tax laws is that they are limited to a few high rollers. If you want the UK economy to accelerate away then reduce tax across the population and commerce. A corporation tax of 5% and a maximum income tax level of 20% would cause an explosion of investment and entrepreneurial activity. It would also put the onus on the people to run their own lives, make their own provisions for health and retirement, and get government off their backs.

        Ask yourself why tax havens like Switzerland exist. Basically at every move the citizens of Switzerland democratically tell their elected government what they can and cannot do. Interfering in their lives at every turn and charging vast tax amounts to badly run their interventions is not something the people are prepared to live with. It is no surprise that such a regime attracts people.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 10, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

          Indeed, and the nondom regime forces people non to remit their funds to the UK or they get taxed so they have to put them somewhere.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted February 10, 2015 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

            sorry “forces people not to remit” I meant.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 10, 2015 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

          Switzerland is a middle class country with many complex taxes and regulations interfering in their lives and your neighbour reporting on your every move. Massive tax cuts would be funded by massive cuts in infrastructure and services or are you telling us that the gap would be filled by your dream? You are wrong.
          lielogic is not even sure about toll roads as he uses roads and so do the rich, though he is sure holiday homes for the super rich to hide and squirrel away cash in London as well as other tax havens are.
          As soon as the country collapse trough lack of infrastructure and law and order these tax schemers will be away telling us that Britain is no good for business. The business of tax avoidance.
          They would be in Switzerland.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 11, 2015 at 12:51 am | Permalink

            In 1990 the State spent half what it does today.

            Yet we still had schools, hospitals, army navy airforce, roads, railways, gas water electricity, welfare and pensions.
            Notice how life went on back then.
            Yet you say Baz, that the country will collapse into anarchy if the State makes any cuts.

          • Bazman
            Posted February 11, 2015 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

            Which is about 40% of GDP.
            You propose to spend less than 20% of GDP?
            The country would be in ruins and any ideas that the the private sector would just fill the gap is for the birds.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 12, 2015 at 12:04 am | Permalink

            Talk of percentages of GDP are misleading.
            The amount of cash spent in billions is the correct way of looking at it.
            For example,
            40% of £1000 is £400
            20% of £3000 is £600

    • DaveM
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      Indeed – EUrocrats are almost comical in their attempts to do things which are outside their knowledge and experience. It’s like a load of accountants reading a book about South Wales then deciding they can buy and run a coal mine.

      Before you know it there will be an EU football team in the Bundesliga made up of people who have watched Barcelona a couple of times, with a manager who’s read a book and thinks she’s better than Jose Mourinho.

    • Jerry
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      @LL; “…but then so very much of what the EU does is a disaster in the making. Bureaucrat do not really care if what they are doing is sensible or not…”

      Not just the EU, one only has to look at those policy disasters called “Suez (Crisis)” and “Bay of Pigs” etc, the EU most certainly does not have a monopoly of making a sows ears out of silk purses! 🙁

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    “Pay workers more” Cameron urges businesses show his complete lack of understanding of how competitive business actually works.

    Yeah sure Dave – then our businesses get outcompeted or taken over by the other companies that do not pay more or are based overseas!

    Perhaps if there were lower and simpler taxation, a less bloated and more competent government, lower & far simpler taxes, fewer daft employment and other silly regulations and not the very real prospect of Labour & Miliband (thanks mainly to Cameron’s duff compass) then we might do.

    I have spent nearly the whole of January with dealing with absurdly complex tax matters. Had they been far simpler I could have concentrated far more on improving the actual business.

    Indeed had HMRC just answered the phone without 30+ minutes queuing or replied promptly to letters it would have wasted far less of my time.

    Worse still often, after 30 minutes of queuing for HMRC, their system just hangs up on you and tells you to get lost & try again later – or it is answered by someone who knows virtually nothing & who usually gives you the wrong answer or yet another (usually wrong) number.

    • rick hamilton
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      “Pay bureaucrats less” would get him more votes, but a lot of cold shoulders in Whitehall no doubt.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      I take issue with you third paragraph. You seem to think that a change of Government would somehow result in a change in policy. It does not. Not since we joined the then EEC. VAT Anyone ??????

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        Well Miliband will surely do a bit more damage than Cameron with his rent act and price controls, he is after all the voice of the state sector unions. But little different I agree.

    • agricola
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Your last two paragraphs have been confirmed absolutely, when my secretary tried to help a friend sort out a perceived problem. After wrong numbers being dealt out by DHSS and then the excruciating and expensive HMRC telephone system, which it is an exaggeration to call a system. she gave up and visited the local tax office.

      She had to bang on the door to get any attention, the incumbents within not being in the habit of dealing with the general public, who incidentally pay their wages and bloated pensions. The attention she got was ill informed and useless, so she left none the wiser.

      A recently ex, very senior tax inspector known to me was not at all surprised at the above. Describing HMRC as ill trained, disjointed and totally unfit for purpose. No small part of the problem is that HMRC is run, if that is not an exaggeration, by pre failed civil servants who know nothing about tax.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        When I first started dealing with HMRC 30 odd years ago I found them quite efficient no longer alas.

    • The PrangWizard
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      I believe Cameron would like to see a minimum wage of £8.00 per hour – the same as our Marxist friend Miliband wants; he’s just a little more pink than Miliband. And Mr Redwood thinks there’s a difference between his party and Labour?

      If Cameron and the Tories were true supporters of a free market they would be campaigning for the end of the minimum wage, and they would stay well away from telling employers what to do. I would suggest that its abolition would raise many wage rates; the minimum wage is an excuse for lazy employers and unions for that matter to keep the market under control, giving them all a quiet life.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

        Telling they to pay enforced pensions now too so they will have less to pay as wages thanks to this anyway.

      • A different Simon
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        All increasing the wages of people who work in the domestic economy will do is widen the gap between them and those who work in the global economy .

        I already have to justify my prices against people in India . Working myself to death just to maintain an income which is 9% lower in cash terms than it was 8 years ago .

        If I try to put my prices up the customers will go elsewhere . Same will happen to telephone jobs .

        Cameron would do better bringing prices of accommodation down – even if that means the mortgage lenders will be looking for another bail out .

        He could reform the planning system to enable people to build whatever they like just about anywhere except in natural beauty spots .

        That would bring accommodation costs down and make the country more competitive .

        Would also mean that the authorities would have to relinquish some control which would not be popular with LibLabCon , Whitehall or Townhall .

        What is not to like ?

      • Mark B
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        The problem o the Minimum Wage, well two of the many problems, is that it encourages employment of illegals and it drives away investment. This in turn creates unemployment wage deflation for everyone. It is also allows the Left to further expand into creating a Command Economy. By creating further unnecessary stresses that they have created, and which they tell us, that only they have the solution, which is more regulation or, to put it another way, State control.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 10, 2015 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

          Legitimate employees are to have their wages cut as employers are encouraged to employ illegal immigrants?
          They are to compete with illegal immigrants on pay?
          How is anyone to live on a quid an hour Mark?
          Like a tramp that how and you are OK with that?

      • Jerry
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        @TPW; “If Cameron and the Tories were true supporters of a free market they would be campaigning for the end of the minimum wage”

        You support people being paid £1 ph (or perhaps even less). I hope you don’t want to see the DWP benefits budget being further reduced to, so that companies pay less tax? If so, as Bazman would suggest, surely nothing but a race to bottom would ensue…

        • APL
          Posted February 10, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

          Jerry: “You support people being paid £1 ph (or perhaps even less).”

          How much people are paid must be viewed through the prism of successive British governments inflationary policies. Since 1913 there has been more than 9000% inflation. By comparrison the 150 years prior inflation amounted to 95%

          The result is that today, a £ sterling won’t buy two Mars bars, and the Mars bars are smaller with less chocolate and more wrapper.

          The government proposes a minimum wage, but behind your back peruses policies that destroy the value of the currency. Making everyone in the sterling zone poorer.

          • A different Simon
            Posted February 11, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

            The problem is not wages . It is accommodation costs .

            U.K. wages are comparable on a region by region comparison with the U.S.

            U.K. wages are multiples of times higher than most countries in Europe and not much behind France , Germany , Holland .

            They are multiple time higher than in India , China , Malaysia except for star-performers who are expensive in India and China .

            People competing in a global economy can’t put their prices up . Those in a domestic economy can .

            Find the will to halve accommodation costs and wages start looking pretty good and the country can remain competitive .

          • APL
            Posted February 11, 2015 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

            ADS: “It is accommodation costs .”

            The problem is the deliberate intent of government policy to impoverish every member of the Sterling zone.

            And that policy has been manifest in the property market and the stock market.

        • Matt
          Posted February 10, 2015 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

          You can’t legislate to have people paid more than the work they do is worth. If you try, the least of us end up with no work at all.
          Training and education are the way to good pay, not arbitrary minimum hourly wages. This is the role of government.
          If you have to set a minimum wage to get people a decent rate of pay, you’re admitting an abysmal failure to get those people trained properly in the first 18 years of their lives.

          Setting state education aside, as our host has made plain on many occasions. The good way to get a good job is to get any job and work your way up.
          In my opinion, and I do not speak for our host here, the minimum wage is a barrier to people getting on the first rung of the employment ladder and as such may do more harm than good.

          We’re all in favour of more people in our country having better paying jobs. We’re only in disagreement on strategy to achieve that.
          Handing out money for nothing is not a plan. It’s what you do when a plan fails.

          • Jerry
            Posted February 11, 2015 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

            Matt; “You can’t legislate to have people paid more than the work they do is worth. If you try, the least of us end up with no work at all.”

            That argument has well and truly been proved wrong since the NMW act, that is why many -if not most- politicians now support the NMW even though they were vocal in their objections before.

      • stred
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        Winston brought in the first minimum wages boards, applicable to particular occupations. This was more flexible than a national minimum and made union militancy less necessary. Then we ditched it. What a wise man he was in some ways.

        • Jerry
          Posted February 11, 2015 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

          @stred; Indeed and those wages boards, if around today, would likely pay more than the NMW!

      • Bazman
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        How are they to live in this country on less than six quid an hour without state subsidy?
        There should be not state subsidy is one argument, but not one you seem to want to put forward. How strange. It would raise wages? Like the abolition of womans right would help them too?

        • APL
          Posted February 10, 2015 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

          Bazman: “How are they to live in this country on less than six quid an hour without state subsidy?”

          It would be possible if the government didn’t pump the housing market in an attempt to buy elections.

          It would be possible if the government didn’t destroy the value of the currency.

          • A different Simon
            Posted February 11, 2015 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

            Agree .

            The solution lies with reducing the cost of accommodation .

            Pumping up house prices is nothing but electioneering and screwing everyone over to help the banks .

          • Bazman
            Posted February 11, 2015 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

            Paying off your mortgage is the best way of reducing accommodation costs.

    • fedupsouthener
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      If energy bills were lower and we weren’t paying ridiculous amounts to wind farm owners then maybe businesses could afford to give workers a pay rise. If Fracking is stopped in Scotland instead of a pay rise from Grangemouth they will get their cards.

      • BeeCee
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

        Just check your energy use for the last 12 months to see just how expensive electricity is.

        If your experience matches mine then 5,500 KWH of electricity costs the same as 19,500 KWH of gas.

        Shows who is paying for this green crap and time the Government came to its senses.

    • Bazman
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      Usual guff that when questioned cannot be justified due to lack of substance.
      You seriously think they are going to share whatever the tax laws or employment rights are in place.
      We should straighten the tax laws out and then set out like a business to pursue the tolls owed for use of infrastructure, social support, education and security used to produce these profits
      Not in favour of that are you and many others?

      • Edward2
        Posted February 11, 2015 at 12:59 am | Permalink

        In a small business it is business rates which cover local services and local infrastructure used by the business.
        Business rates cost many thousands per annum even for a corner shop.
        Bigger factories and warehouses can pay many tens of thousands each year.
        Big businesses pay hundreds of thousands per year.
        This is apart from many other taxes companies pay nationally into the Treasury.
        But nothing is enough for you until all of us work for big brother equally poor.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 11, 2015 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

          I’ll put it to you again.
          You seriously think they are going to share whatever the tax laws or employment rights are in place?

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic – I’m disappointed with your lack of understanding with regard to supply/demand economics (more so with Mr Cameron’s lack.)

      What happens to the price of a commodity when there is a glut of it ?

      Businesses aren’t giving their workers wage rises simply because they don’t have to. What does Mr Cameron think business is about ? Largesse ???

  5. Alan
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    No, it is not, in my view, “a great pity the EU started out on its expansionist course with the Ukraine”. I think it is a great pity that Russia invaded the Ukraine.

    I don’t think it is true that “most of the west does not want to see an easy Russian victory”. Surely most of us do not want a Russian victory at all, whether easy or hard.

    I wish Mr Redwood would not write articles that can be read as implying there is justification for the Russian invasion, or that its success would be acceptable. No EU activity should, in my view, be considered as excusing Russian invasion. To be anti-EU is one thing, to support Russian military activity is quite another.

    Reply I have made clear on several occasions I do not support Russian military intervention. You need to understand that as a result of what has happened Russia has a victory in annexing Crimea. No-one in the west thinks we should try to retake that by force, and no western state has a plan to get Crimea back any time soon. We need to understand why this has happened, as well as condemning Russian military action.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      Well it clearly does not imply that “there is justification for the Russian invasion, nor that its success would be acceptable” in any way.

      Trying to understand how how and why events unfolded as they gave does not imply justification or approval at all.

    • Martyn G
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Alan, it is much more than ‘a pity’ that Russia invaded the Ukraine but there is no doubt that the EU, in seeking to expand its empire and with Mr Cameron’s short-sighted and fatuous remark that ‘he looked forward to the day when the EU expanded as far east as the Urals’ put Putin on the defence.
      His response in that context – attack – although inexcusable is at least understandable. Make no mistake, the EU (and USA) have brought this about on themselves (and us) to the detriment of the peoples of the Ukraine and now have little idea as to resolving the issue or even perhaps to stop an outright war.

    • Ian Murray
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      I agree with you entirely

      • fedupsouthener
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

        And me!

    • mickc
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 10:35 am | Permalink


      Most people in the UK do not want to fight any more wars, and, to be quite blunt, do not believe what our “rulers” tell us anymore. Iraq and the non existent “Weapons of Mass Destruction” cured us of that particular innocence.

      Is there any evidence of Russian troops in the Ukraine, other than Crimea which is its own particular case? None that I know of, and if there was the Western media would be full of it. There have, of course, been various statements to that effect by Rasmussen…but no evidence.

      In the UK we prosecute those who have been to Syria to fight against Assad, and yet Cameron, at the behest of the USA, wanted to bomb Assad. Hypocrisy of a high order, indeed.

      So, those who wish to go and fight Russia should feel free to do so…..just leave the rest of us out of it.

    • zorro
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      To be clear – not supporting the botched EU attempt to annex Ukraine does not mean the we support Russia.

      You have to look at this issue dispassionately and in light of previous assurances given regarding the expansion of NATO.

      Where is the proof of a ‘Russian invasion’?…. If there had been, the main stream media would be inundated with satellite imagery and photos of invasion troops rather than the fantastical proclamations coming from the Ukrainian President….

      We are talking about political realities and you must take the geo-political realities into context. What about if we were facing a threat on our borders? I think that Russia has been comparatively restrained. What would the USA do?….. Oh wait….


    • Sean O'Hare
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      There might not have been justification for the Russian Invasion but there sure was sufficient provocation!

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        Sean–Good way of putting it. There is a conceit, pure and simple, that begs the question whether the EU approach works; and Brussels really seems to believe that “applying” the EU can achieve good result even though the project has been stretched, and at the same time reduced, to absurdum. Brussels and Co knew full well that Greece was fiddling its figures but didn’t give a damn, probably encouraged it, as I say, out of pure conceit, they thought that, once ‘EUised’, Greece would be brought in to line as if by magic. Ukraine not too far different. How wrong can you be? And I especially just love those (my MP for instance) whose main justification for the EU is (was?) that the it prevents another European War. And the problems have scarcely begun yet.

    • mitchel
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      Seeing what has happened in the Donbass and how the rest of Ukraine is in an economic death spiral,I think it is highly likely that the population of Crimea (which already had the status of a semi-autonomous republic) would confirm their re-union with Russia in a future referendum organized up to Western standards.

    • forthurst
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      “No EU activity should, in my view, be considered as excusing Russian invasion. To be anti-EU is one thing, to support Russian military activity is quite another.”

      Begging the question once again; if you have any evidence of a Russian invasion, perhaps you would share it; evidence does not, by the way, constitute the unsubstantiated assertions of Poroshenko or his neocon backers.

      It is important when assessing international politics, firstly to try to understand what has happened and why, as I believe JR with his scholar’s background attempts to do, and then try to establish how these events and their potential developments would affect our vital national interest; I have seen no evidence to suggest that fomenting a war with Russia based on lies would be in our vital national interest.

      It is etc ed

  6. Mark B
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I take it that the war is not going too well for the West and the Kiev Government ?

    There is simply too much bad blood between them for any lasting peace. A full partition of the country is needed, much like that of the former Yugoslavia and Sudan. Once formal borders can be established, a process of ‘normalization’ can begin.

    Giving those Eastern Ukrainians a few extra powers will not be enough. There will be those who will use the fact that many people have lost loved ones in the most despicable way, and will try to push for further autonomy and independence.

    I would also like to turn our attention to the matter of war crimes. I am of the understanding that, it is a crime to deliberately target civilians and civilian areas in a war. I sincerely hope that our government makes its position clear that it does not deal with potential as well as actual war criminals and that we will see charges from the Hague brought against those in the Ukrainian Government.

    If not, then I suppose there is some truth to what the Nazi’s said after the Second World War, when at Nuremberg, they refereed to their trial as; “Victors justice.”

  7. agricola
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    A simple solution, redraw the border where it is now ,a de facto ethnic division. Demilitarise for thirty miles from it in both directions. Encourage re-location for those that find themselves on the wrong side of the new border.

    It will probable please very few, but it at least stops the wanton killing.

    Bring western Ukraine into NATO and the EU ,but not the Euro. Strengthen the east west border militarily, saying to an economically weak Russia that this is the line you cross at your peril. Say to the EU that where they are, for varying reasons, incapable of a serious military response they can instead contribute to NATO financially for the service.

    The message to Russia will be as it was under Reagan in the USA. We are strong ,capable, and none aggressive, but do not push your luck.

    • mitchel
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Ukraine is an economic basketcase;Russia does not want to take it on,no sensible person in the west should want to add this to Europe’s other problems.

    • bigneil
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Bring Western Ukraine into the EU? – Where are a few million of them who WILL come here going to have their taxpayer funded housing? their free benefits? their free NHS treatment? and their free schooling? Or maybe we can borrow even more from the bottomless pit? I feel genuinely sorry for the people in bad situations but we cannot take them all. We have some from Syria. We have thousands of East Europeans contributing nothing. We have thousands of asylum claimants doing nothing, but claiming their free lives.
      “Our” generosity is now being used against us in thinly-veiled threats as in the protest in London. Our govt is so busy bothering about everyone else it is clear that WE are of no concern whatsoever to them. We are only here to be taxed, so others can come here and make demands, while they live off our taxes. It is time to be selfish, but it seems that our leaders want us gone -they just won’t admit it.

      Reply Many migrants do contribute

      • ian wragg
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        And very many are net takers. Another 1.5 million in work and tax take down. Individual GDP down and benefits rising. How does this pay our pensions pray remind me. As Bigneil says they will be another mouth sucking on the UK teat.

      • Rita Webb
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        Yes but what is the net contribution? You are seriously telling me a taxi driver with a couple of kids and a non working wife pays more in taxes than he takes out in benefits and services? You will be telling me next every immigrant is a highly skilled immigrant.

        • fedupsouthener
          Posted February 10, 2015 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

          Rita, got it in one. They may be working but the benefits they get far outweigh the contributions made in many cases. Why do we need more poor countries like the Ukraine when we already have problems with Spain, Greece and Italy????

        • APL
          Posted February 16, 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

          Rita Webb:”You will be telling me next every immigrant is a highly skilled immigrant.”

          And it’s a damming indictment of the British education system that we have to import foreign educated or skilled employees.

          The education budget of the UK government @2014 was £90B that’s twice the defence budget @ £45B.

          Presumably, by that token, we need many more foreign soldiers on British soil.

    • forthurst
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      !The message to Russia will be as it was under Reagan in the USA. We are strong ,capable, and none aggressive, but do not push your luck.”

      Is agricola a pseudonym for Rip Van Winkle? Reagan was parleying with the Bolshevik Empire, which collapsed twenty years ago, not Russia, and in the meantime ‘we’ have been prosecuting the War on Terror, based on the lie of 9/11, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc and an economic war against Iran and Russia.

      As to being capable, I would also beg to differ, since capacity, in this context implies acting to ameliorate and improve situations; I see no evidence of amelioration as a result of the neocon invasions or their economic warfare, quite the contrary.

  8. alan jutson
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Yet another trouble spot in an ever increasing unsettled World.

    I wish the negotiations well, but will there be any buildings left standing to inhabit after such a long and destructive campaign by both sides.

    Shame for the ordinary people and their families.

    • alan jutson
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Just out of interest where is Baroness Ashton in all of these negotiations ?

      Thought she was the Foreign policy expert/representative for the EU, or has she been surpassed/bypassed.

      Could it be that Germany and France have something to lose here, and so are acting out of self interest.
      Surely not ?

  9. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    EU expansion was a good idea at the time so the universities all made up modules and courses. Of course these lecturers did not consider that the population may not agree with their academic ploy .

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      In the same way that real science, nature and indeed thermometers did not agree with the climate “experts” and the universities anth. global warming/catastrophe constructions and computer simulation models. Perhaps after another 10 years of no warming they may come round? I doubt it though, after all religions often have long lives?

  10. Bert Young
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    The Ukrainians must decide for themselves . Outside intervention will only cause misunderstanding and the prolongation of the conflict . The EU made a great mistake in trying to link the Ukraine to the West ; it gave a form of encouragement it was not in a position to sustain . Equally the USA made overtures without thinking through the consequences . The Ukraine borders with Russia have always been Russian speaking and tied to Russia economically ; if they wish to cement this link they should be allowed to do so . Democracy ought to be encouraged in the Ukraine and not pushed under the carpet .

  11. Iain Moore
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Why should I care about Russia dismembering Ukraine when the British state is seeking to dismember my country England?

    Last night we got the BBC giving the balkanisers more air time to peddle their city fiefdom cause , with Scottish politician . Danny Alexander , telling power gabbing city leaders to go for it, for they would find friends for their cause in the Treasury.

    Labour is using the London assembly as an argument why there shouldn’t be devolution for England, for they argue there are already different powers in different areas. Of course this wasn’t the declared aim when they set up the London Mayor assembly, for if it was we should have all had our say in London getting an assembly . It will be many fold worse if we get the mad constitutional expert Osborne’s Mayoral fiefdoms across English cities.

    Just as Labour tried to get piecemeal regional assemblies to fracture England through local issues, Osborne is doing the same, via the back door to England with his Mayoral fiefdoms. What ever Government we get, we always get them pushing for the balkanisation of England, why is that? Is there some hidden department of the British state whose sole purpose is to destroy England? A bit like the Scottish office but in reverse.

    When the Cameron Conservatives fracture England into a dogs breakfast of competing mayoral fiefdoms, what happens to all of us who don’t live in a City fiefdom , but live in a hinter land of nowhere? Where do we get out representation? Do we get annexed by a city fiefdom? Will be asked if we want this?

    The Conservatives rely on English votes, but they seem to have nothing but contempt for English people and culture. Hampshire was established in 755AD older than most of the countries of the world , yet I understand Osborne is planning a City feifdom in Southampton and Portsmouth, have we been asked ? No.

    • Martyn G
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Iain – “What ever Government we get, we always get them pushing for the balkanisation of England, why is that”? Simple! The majority of our politicians are frightened of the potential power of the English if they are ever allowed to come together again. Hence the encouragement of mass immigration so as to weaken the voice of the English people.
      In their view the English must never, under any circumstances be allowed to have an influential voice in the UK. I despise all those politicians who have brought this about and doubt that, having removed England from the map of the EU a decade or more ago they will never allow it to be resurrected. Perhaps some kind blogger will tell me of another EU country that has been removed from the map? Yet no one seems to care!

    • Mark B
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Have you ever noticed that no, and so far I do mean ‘no’ currently sitting English (elected) MP is making the case for the break up of England ? It is always someone like Danny Alexander or Malcolm Rifkind making the case for devolution for English Regions, without my consent. They can, because they have no skin in the game.

      Cowards !

      The only way to remedy the situation, is to come to the conclusion that your and mine best interests lay elsewhere on this issue, and to make this know to those seeking election to our Parliament.

  12. oldtimer
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    It is difficult to see how and why a resolution will be achieved. The sides are too far apart. My guess is that this civil war will run and run inside the Ukraine. The hope must be that it does not spread into a wider conflict between Russia and the West.

  13. Wasp
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Could someone explain to me how it is ok for the US and NATO to send weapons to the Ukrainian forces, but Russia, supporting the Novorussians, doing the same thing is a terrible action?

    Can anyone point to evidence that the Russian military is operating in Donbass and Lughansk? As in actual evidence – photos, spy satellite images, not a politician saying “There are 7,000 troops in the region.”.

    Russia is acting to defend their ethnic bretheren from the corrupt and dictatorial government in Kiev.
    A government which was created after a coup overthrew their democratically elected government. A new government which doesn’t acknowledge their heritage and refuses to allow Russian to be an official language, even though it is the main spoken language in these areas. There are accusations of terrible crimes being committed by the Kiev forces in these areas.

    Why are we supporting these people? Why are our leaders so keen on antagonizing Russia and Putin? Why do they seem so keen on starting WW3?

    We should stay out of it, maintain an armed neutrality (like Switzerland) and try to mend the damage done to our relationship with Russia. Be friends and trade with both Russia and US, but ally with neither.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      First things first. They are not our ‘Leaders’. They are Public Servants. They may lead a Party, or a Government, but they do not lead me.

      Remember – They work for us – supposedly.

  14. a-tracy
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I’m getting more curious now and will repeat my question: who put Merkel in charge of the EU area? Who decided Hollande would be her deputy? What is her intervention based on, her countries contribution to the EU overall? Does France contribute more than the UK. We are being made to look increasing irrelevant in European matters, they just want our taxes and to smash the door in our faces when we want changes, other countries to comply with accounting rules, and proper weight in decisions. How long have the Ukraine been in the EU, who offered them membership? Did their people vote on it or were they tricked like my parents generation were? Isn’t anyone else concerned about how powerful Merkel appears, in the centre of everything, she isn’t elected like the President of America but she seems to me to act like it. While Cameron is becoming more and more disrespected.

    • mickc
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      The first question is easy to answer….Germany being the wealthiest European nation.

      Those who seek money always suck up to the wealthy, after all where else would they get it?

      It is why the UK sucked up to the USA during and after what Keynes called “the European Civil War”.

  15. lojolondon
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    John, you are absolutely correct in your analysis, the Ukraine was extremely stable until the EU tried to seduce leading politicians with promises of ‘more’, courtesy of the German and British government’s largess. Putin was in a corner, where he was forced to respond, that much is obvious to everyone.

    Regards arming the Ukraine, that would be totally the wrong decision – because we have already experienced Vietnam, and I would hope we have learned a lesson. The fact that Obama wants to arm the Ukraine showcases his complete inability to do the right thing at any point over the last 6 years.

  16. Bernard Otway
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Hello John
    After a long absence ,I now reside thousands of miles away,but at nearly 70 still have my
    attention at the Web.
    Funny having been pro USA and anti CCCP I am now exactly the opposite ,based on observation and reading the likes of Fred on everything and The UNZ review from people like Pat Buchanan,Mike Whitney and Andrew Napolitano a former state supreme court judge and author of several books on the US constitution.
    I like Putin and believe he is far more popular in Russia than any of the likes of Cameron
    or Obama,Merkel,Hollande etc are in their countries. I hope he wins this dispute totally
    and that his gain is a loss for those mentioned above.
    I am an aged REBEL against this so called New world order,I actually hope that EAST ASIA buries this stupid West ,USA, and EU,just look at what China is doing in Africa.

  17. John S
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Why are we getting such a one-sided view of the conflict in the media, portraying the pro Russian factions as the only bad guys? I am convinced that this is another example of the visual media pandering to the establishment. The climate change hype is another example. To digress the Canaries are having their coldest Winter on record.

    • Terry
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Could it be the shooting down of MH17 that has made them so? Could it be the Russian invasion of the Crimea that started it?

      • Mark B
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        No one knows who shot down MH117. Both sides have Surface to Air missiles capable of bringing down an aircraft at that height.

        If the Ukrainian Government knew the Rebels had those Missiles, why did it not warn its friends and ask civilian aircraft to stay out of the zone. It wouldn’t have anything to do with lucrative over-flight rights would it ?

        Crimea was not invaded. Russia had and entitled to have troops there. They held a referendum, and the people voted to join Russia. Whilst I have issues over the question on the ballot, Ukraine have not acted militarily to eject Russia from the base. So I’d imagine they are comfortable with it. At least for now.

        Nothing is as it seems. And it is wise not to take sides in this dispute. And it would have been even wiser not to provoke it in the first place. But we are beyond that now.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

          Deluded nonsense with little understanding of Russia and Russians. They have sent hundreds of lorries worth of equipment to the Ukraine Putin attempts to divert attention from his problems in Russia such as falling oil prices and the weak economy hence the patriot card.
          Russia has form for telling anyone including their own citizens bear faced lies and Ukraine is just as bent as it gets.

          • zorro
            Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

            hundreds of lorries containing what? It was examined several times at the border….remember?

            Go on talk to me about 100s of Russian tanks and 1000s of troops in Ukraine and all the satellite photos from US satellites honing in over the Ukraine. Yes?….No?

            Take your own advice, you are the deluded one with your chocolate coated fantasies.


          • zorro
            Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

            Just as well that the US haven’t got form for it…… Oh wait


          • zorro
            Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

            Of course, the Eastern Ukrainians could be chucking foodstuffs at the Ukrainian Army at the moment. The way the latter are currently performing, they are just as effective as bullets….


          • Bazman
            Posted February 11, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

            You are laughably telling us that Russia has not sent military aid and equipment not to mention troops to Ukraine?

          • Mark B
            Posted February 12, 2015 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

            The near collapse of the Russian economy and the fall in the oil price came after MH117, …….. !!!

            I do not doubt that Russia are supplying arm and weapons to the rebels. But where did I say that they were, or weren’t ? That makes you ….. !!!

            I am not taking sides in this. If you actually have been following events, then you would know that this was started by the EU. Just because you are married to a Russian woman, does not make you an expert.

            And please do not be so rude to me again. …. !!!

            Reply Let’s stop personal abuse on both sides.

          • zorro
            Posted February 13, 2015 at 12:23 am | Permalink

            Avoid addressing the point, it’s usually your best policy 🙂


          • APL
            Posted February 16, 2015 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

            Bazman: “Putin attempts to divert attention from his problems in Russia such as falling oil prices and the weak economy hence the patriot card.”

            What country has a strong economy these days?

            Oil price manipulation by the Saudis, either for their own reasons or at the bidding of the US, might just be an attempt to destabilise Russia.

            Although if the Rouble is no longer convertible as a result, how many European exporters to Russia has the plot destroyed?

          • Bazman
            Posted February 16, 2015 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

            What you all seem to forget Russia is a criminal state and this is where it begins and ends.
            You are only able to hear the translations of the people speaking such as Putin and often they the translators are very forgiving and clean up what they say. John will delete this post if I tell the truth about them, but needless to say its not good.
            You are not dealing with western politicians and values.
            By the way my knowledge of the Russian Psyche is quite good and I hear things from the Russian web in real time that you never do.
            It’s crazy stuff as most of Russia is.

  18. Robert Taggart
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Russia needs facing down -by NATO first and foremost, then ‘Uncle Sam’ if needs be.
    Bring on the Drones !

    • Mark B
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 6:40 pm | Permalink


      You go first son. The rest of us will see how you get on, and might follow you a bit later. OK ?

      • Robert Taggart
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

        Alas, our age (approaching the ‘big 5 – 0’) – would almost certainly preclude us from action !
        Over to you ‘Marky B’ !!

        • Mark B
          Posted February 12, 2015 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

          Ah !! The, “I’m too old” excuse. Alas I am not that far behind you, although I must say I do not look it.

          • APL
            Posted February 16, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

            Mark B: “The, “I’m too old” excuse.”

            What better time to send other peoples children to fight and die in your pet war, a war that your own country has little direct strategic interest?

  19. William Long
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    I should be very interested to know how the House of Commons would vote if asked to support a US lead military intervention in the Ukraine, or even just to send arms, which in my view would be just as counter productive. On the assumption that the vote would be against ‘War, War’, the only alternative is ‘Jaw, Jaw’ and I wish Merkel and Hollande the best of luck.

  20. English Pensioner
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    You final sentence is the crux of the whole matter
    “It is a great pity the EU started out on its expansionist course with the Ukraine without properly considering the likely reaction of pro Russian people inside Ukraine, and the ability of Russia to give them support. “

    The public should be told how and why this happened. Who was behind this expansionist course? Was it agreed by all the EU countries or by the MEPs or by the Heads of Government of the EU states? Or was it the unelected EU commissioners who decided that the EU should be enlarged? Who authorised the expenditure of millions of Euros which was spent on undermining the previous Ukraine government?
    I would also go further – Was our government aware of what the EU was doing, and if so why didn’t they prevent it?

    I suspect that those pursuing the EU policy didn’t even think about what Russia’s reaction might be. From a Russian point of view, the EU Empire has already absorbed the old east bloc countries and is intent on territorial expansion. Russia has been invaded by European countries in the past; Bonaparte, Crimea and Hitler and wanted to prevent any further attempt by the European state to expand eastwards.
    Personally I put the blame for all that has happened, including all the deaths, firmly on the EU. Russia merely reacted in response to EU interference in a neighbouring country with whom they had friendly relations.
    If this had been the UK that had done something like this, there would be parliamentary demands for a full enquiry to ascertain why it had happened and who was to blame. Our government should explain to us, before the general election, how and why it was allowed to happen, as it has brought us closer to war with Russia that at any time since the iron curtain collapsed.

    • Mitchel
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      Doesn’t it just illustrate the total lack of accountability of EU institutions – they can cause wars that other people have to fight just as easily as they can write cheques other people are expected to cash….and no official is ever to blame.

      Catherine Ashton,though relinquishing her head of EU foreign affairs role recently is still involved-ie on the payroll-assisting negotiations with Iran over their nuclear programme.

    • stred
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      The behaviour and words of politicians gives a clue as to why they embarked on the expansion into Ukraine. The words of the US diplomat Mrs Newman, the appointment of the son of the US Vice President to the board of the Ukrainian oil and gas company, the claim that Russia was never given assurances that Nato would not push east by its former head, Mr Rasmussen, the claim by little Willy almost a year ago that the Ukrainian parliament had legitimately removed the former president and his visit during the rebellion along with Baroness Ashton.

      It is odd how split conservative MPs are about the issue. Some claim that Russia has invaded and that, because this is illegal, we should send in NATO and show Putin what he can do with his H bomb. Others are sympathetic to the Russian Ukrainians and wish to give them their regional independence. Even previous ambassadors seem to have opposite views.

      Today, during the debate, an MP said he had been there when the negotiations for the end of the USSR were taking place with Yeltsin, and that assurances were given that NATO would not expand. Apparently, NATO now claims this was not in the written agreement. And regarding Willy’s claim that the previous president was removed legally, the Spinwatch website has an article with the actual constitutional procedure and showing that he was misleading the Commons. International law seems to be very flexible and adaptable to any point of view.

      Just think, if they had left the adventure for another year, there was an election due anyway, 5000 people would still be alive, the Ukrainian economy would not be wrecked and the EU/US taxpayers would not be forking out £15 billion for starters to pay for it.

    Posted February 10, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    TV news here in the UK no doubt attempting to give a balanced picture is having to mix footage of blocks of flats in Russian rebel held Donetz being pounded by Kiev Ukrainian forces with other footage suggesting but not saying Russians and not Ukrainian government forces are doing it. It is quite clear if one follows our own news, carefully, even without looking at the massive material on Twitter, that Kiev is waging war on ordinary Russian speakers in the East.

    Whoever started this war and for whatever reasons are in one sense irrelevant because Kiev’s targets are persons it calls its own people. If Russian separatists were to lay down their arms, which is highly unlikely, there would need to be far more than spoken guarantees from the EU and the continent 5,000 miles to the West across the Atlantic ocean, as to the safety of Russian speakers, the continuation of their language in schools and their particular religion which is not that of Kiev and the rest of Ukraine.

  22. Roy Grainger
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Who exactly are Merkel and Hollande representing ? As far as I can see it is not the EU who have their own foreign minister. They are obviously not representing NATO as the USA appears to disagree with their negotiating stance. So who ? It is a pity the two of them seem to be acting unilaterally – bad Europeans both.

    Reply They belong to a group of 4 countries including the USA formed to deal with this issue.

  23. Terry
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    It is clear to me what has to happen. The Ukraine must be partitioned .
    Those citizens at the Eastern Borders are predominantly pro-Russian whereas those residents further West tend to be pro-European. In simple terms, a referendum should be held in each of the 12 Govenorates or each of the numerous Administration Centres, to decide with whom the respective citizens in each centre wish to be aligned. Of course, this is a simply outline and the wording of such a referendum must be carefully considered and every one overseen by independent adjudicators. It won’t be easy of course but to prevent further bloodshed is there any other course of action to take?

  24. Roy Grainger
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    One further point. If you were going to choose someone from the West to negotiate with Putin then Merkel would come far down the list. Not only is she in charge of a country which is barred by its constitution from deploying troops abroad but she is also so dependent on Russian energy that the effect of Russian sanctions on Germany would be far greater than vice versa. So in the “negotiations” what has she got to offer ? Why should Putin, with his 80% approval rating at home, be bothered what she says ?

    • DaveM
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      “Why should Putin, with his 80% approval rating at home, be bothered what she says ?”

      I don’t think he’s bothered about what anyone says, is he?

      Like him or hate him, it would be nice to see a bit of his steel in ANY of the UK’s party leaders. Mix the good bits of Vladimir Putin with the good bits of Marine Le Pen and you’d have the kind of leader this country is crying out for!!

      • fedupsouthener
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

        Yes, it would be nice to see someone in charge who was not standing wringing his hands blaming everything onto someone or something else! Very often the answer to problems is staring our politicians in the face and yet they choose to ignore it and blame another source for their failings. Just what is happening to our once great country??

      • Bazman
        Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        LOL! 80% approval rating by who, his chums? How long would fools like yourself last in Russia?

        • zorro
          Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:57 pm | Permalink


          It was that well known Russian owned company GALLUP so you must be right as always Bazman 🙂


          • Bazman
            Posted February 11, 2015 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

            Kim Jong Un got a 100%.

          • zorro
            Posted February 13, 2015 at 12:29 am | Permalink

            Before you ask Bazman, yes….. 🙂


          • APL
            Posted February 16, 2015 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

            Bazman: “Kim Jong Un got a 100%.”

            In a poll conducted by ..?

  25. ChrisS
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    This dreadful and dangerous mess is mostly the fault of Baroness Ashton and her “External Action Service” interfering in what Putin regards as his backyard.

    The tragic outcome was so predictable from the moment that Gordon Brown elevated this Labour nobody to the House of Lords and nominated her for the job when Foreign Secretary David Miliband refused it. What a mistake that was from every angle !

    Ashton’s total lack of experience, a new, superfluous and hugely expensive organisation and the EU’s wildly over-ambitious plan to strut the world diplomatic stage have combined together to backfire spectacularly. Her organisation has tragically lived up to its name, causing another war in everything but name right on the edge of Europe.

    We all know that Putin has nothing to fear from the woefully soft and poorly armed countries of Western Europe but he knows that the Russians have long memories and seeing a resurgent Germany must give them nightmares.

    Being a devious thug, Putin, the former head of the KGB etc ed, remember, knew exactly how to take advantage of his people’s understandable paranoia and the results are all too predictable.

    We have little option that to back down and see Ukraine partitioned. If the Western part of the country wants a closer relationship with the EU they can have one but not full membership. That will only make matters worse.

    At the same time we must ensure than Putin knows that a victory in Ukraine is as much as the West will tolerate and a move on any other former Eastern block States would see a quite different response. This can only be achieved by placing a small contingency of troops there. Too small a force to be any kind of threat but enough to deter Putin from risking causing a confrontation with the USA, France and the UK who would inevitably have to provide the manpower.

    As for the “Action Service” it has done more harm than anything else the EU has done (except the Euro) and should be disbanded immediately for the sake of peace and security.

    The EU should leave diplomacy to the experts in London and Paris while Merkel sits at home and continues to dither over what not to do about the Euro.

    Reply Mr Putin understands that the EU has no military power, but NATO has considerable force. NATO has announced its intention to station more troops in the Baltic republics, and to create a rapid reaction force for use were any NATO state to be threatened. Ukraine is not in NATO so has no protection from the NATO guarantee.

  26. ian
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Nothing has been proven against russia, as for PM wet&mad and other members of your party coming on the tv and making statement that all overseas people buying property in this country will pay CGT is a lie, there is no retention of any money, all the money from a sale of a property can be taken out of the country by overseas persons. Am i to believe that once the money is out of country that person would send back the tax. If you cannot prove other wise the PM and wet&mad shold make retraction of their statements on tv.

  27. ian
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    PS i have known about this since his budget statement on it. most country in eurozone have retention for this of more than 15% of the sale price, you do not, so how can you receive your tax.

  28. ian
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    I keep hearing about this long term economic plan, your party has not got one, they run the country by the seat of their pants, in fact when it is mention your lot laugh their heads off. As for your lot ever paying any tax apart from paye is a joke, it all trusts and offshroe accounts or you never sell any thing, you only buy that why you love inflation so much and will fight tooth and nail to keep it that way. You spend the people money like water. Inflation 0,5% houses 8% rents 3%, i do not see assets prices coming down, your lot will make sure of that. The vaule of the pound 1913 100% today 0.8 of one penny, 25 year time if your lot have their way 0.4 of one penny.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 10, 2015 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      So what is your solution ? Should the people just keep putting their little ‘x’ in the hope of something better ? Or do we say; “To hell with it ! Let someone else have ago !”

  29. Malcolm Edward
    Posted February 11, 2015 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    A good broad-sighted commentary on the Ukrainian situation by JR.
    I hope with determination a negotiated conclusion is possible provided some hard decisions can be made
    In my view the root of the problem needs to be tackled and that is Ukraine is so geo-politically divided that a key part of the solution is to divide the country.
    At the end of it I’d hope there can be workable relationships between all the parties involved. I believe there are more long term interests in common than what separate the parties.

  30. ian
    Posted February 11, 2015 at 2:29 am | Permalink

    Don”t vote for a party, vote for independent politicians or don”t vote at all. The politicians are being blackmailed by the bankers and cannot be trusted, the bankers are bankrurt and the country is bankrurt and the bankers are using the politicians to do they biding. Lots of rich people coming to the country at 30,000 a time so they can avoid paying tax on their investments or wash their money for them and at the same time making thing look good hear with the amount of money they are spending.

    When politicians see that parties are not getting the vote they will go independent. You must break the tie between the politicians and the establishment bankers and the elite, you must have the politicians in your pocket not their, if you do not you will find yourself on a hand full rice one day which already happening to people because one day they will get round to you, yes one day it will be your turn.

    These people have got trillions offshore not billions but i would not worry about that, i just ask them if they would like to wash their money at the city of london rate and pay off the country debt also if foreign only pay 30,000 a year why should any one else pay more.

  31. stred
    Posted February 11, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    The justification for a possible very dangerous escalation of the war in Ukraine depends on apparently different claims about international law. The former head of NATO has written, in a recent article in the DT, that documents produced in Washington show that no comittment was made that NATO would not expand eastwards. However, a conservative MP said in the HoC during the debate, that he had been present during the negotiations with Yeltsin’s government and these comittments were made. Who do you believe?

    Around this time last year William Hague told the HoC that the removal of the previous Ukrainian president was done legally by their parliament. However, the Spinwatch website has published article 111 of their constitution and David Morrison has written that the procedure and vote was not followed. ( google Hague and Spinwatch)
    If the new parliament did not remove him by legal process but by a revolution, where does this statement by Hague stand ? Could you ask him whether he still believes the process followed their constitution?

    The referendum and transfer to Russia of Crimea has been called illegal by most western commentators, as the permission of the Ukrainian parliament should have been sought. If the new government turns out to be the result of a revolution, backed by the EU/US then where does the legality or otherwise of the referendum stand? Should the EU offer to pay for a second referendum with observers of their choice and then settle this argument.

    The deliberate shelling of civilians would normally be considered a war crime. Should an even handed approach be made to charge the combatants be made. More civilians were killed yesterday in a claimed attack on a bus station.

  32. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted February 11, 2015 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Do you really think the Eton lads will be loyal to one another.? Ha

  • 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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