And So It Goes…#597

Just when I thought that Schadenfreude  couldn’t possibly get any better. And certainly not courtesy of the Daily Usurer Tory graph ; they come up with this…brilliant ! Definitely worth reading in full it is priceless..the angst,the muted rattling of cardboard sabres…..

By Charles Crawford, former diplomat

12:50PM GMT 19 Feb 2015

CommentsEvents in Ukraine prompt a flurry of British statements.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon warns of a “real and present danger” that Vladimir Putin will launch a campaign of undercover attacks to destabilise the Baltic states on NATO’s eastern flank, testing NATO’s resolve with the same Kremlin-backed subversion used in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Mr Fallon said that NATO “must” be prepared to repel Russian aggression in “whatever form it takes”.

Sounds as if things are getting serious. Or are they? Over on the UK Ministry of Defence website there are 16 Policies, with Defending the UK and its NATO Allies from Russian Destabilisation prominently not mentioned.

Sir John Sawers also talked about Russia in his first speech following the end of his time as Chief of MI6

QuoteMr Putin insists that Russia’s own security is at stake in Ukraine. That European Values and European Order for Ukraine undermine Russian Values and Russian Order.

This position flatly contradicts all the agreements Russia itself has signed – and helped negotiate – supporting European order and values. But we deal with the Russia we have, not the Russia we’d like to have.

We could take on Moscow, stepping up our response. Provide weapons to Ukraine so it can defend itself. More stringent sanctions. But how would Mr Putin respond?

As long as Mr Putin sees the issue in terms of Russia’s own security he will be prepared to go further than us. So he would respond with further escalation on the ground. Perhaps cyber attacks against us.

We have thousands of deaths in Ukraine. We could start to get tens of thousands. Then what?

Good question.

Over in New York the UK’s Ambassador to the United Nations Sir Mark Lyall-Grant has spoken out against “Russia’s blatant disregard for the UN Charter through its illegal annexation of Crimea” and called for the new ceasefire agreement to be fully honoured:

QuoteAgreements have been reached before. This time we must see commitments translated into action and full delivery of the obligations that have been undertaken.

But for reasons of drafting technique as well as policy, I don’t like such “musty” pronouncements. Why “must” Russia abide by the Minsk Agreement? Yes, it has promised us to abide by it. But what in fact do we do if it breaks that promise?

(Of course, it already has, by supplying or otherwise supporting the “rebels” who decided to tidy the map in eastern Ukraine and crush Ukrainian resistance in the Debaltseve pocket before any weedy ceasefire could kick in.)

Broadly speaking, there are two options for European Security in the next couple of decades.

One is based on certainty. All European countries, plus non-European NATO allies and Russia, agree to certain rules, and they stick to them. Not sticking to the rules has clear negative consequences under those rules. Life proceeds within a framework of shared understandings, and indeed shared commitment to mutual security and prosperity. Everyone knows where they stand.

The other is based on uncertainty. There are rules. But they exist furtively under the One Rule to Rule Them All: namely that such rules are contingent on what the Kremlin feels like doing that day. If it feels peckish or just mischievous, it will nibble at an international border here, or slyly menace a small neighbour there. Or it may test and test again its partners’ resolve by provocative nuclear bomber flights, polluting European public e-spaces with paid Internet trolls, and slipping funding to extremist politicians in EU countries. Existential malevolent unease prevails.

The great danger to European security now – and in my view it is a real danger – is that Vladimir Putin’s policies do not offer any clear route to certainty. It’s just not clear what he wants, or why he wants it, or what might make him inclined to strike a deal on new terms.

On the contrary, as Anne Applebaum describes, senior Russians studiously trail seemingly outlandish ideas for rolling back the whole European settlement that ended the Cold War:

QuoteThe Germans in the room found the Russian statements particularly hilarious. Undo German unification? Why, that would require undoing the whole post-Cold War settlement!

Which is indeed a very amusing notion — unless you think that this is exactly what the Russian speaker, the Russian foreign minister, and indeed the Russian President, a man who once called the collapse of the Soviet Union ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century’, are in fact trying to achieve.

It is impossible to imagine that happening without, at some stage, an escalation of hostilities going far beyond the dirty military exchanges in eastern Ukraine. But it is possible to imagine the Kremlin thinking that Western capitals, including Washington, are now too sissy or disorganised to do anything concerted and truly painful to stop him – at least for the time being. So why not keep nibbling and probing and provoking, just to see whether there might really be some limits to Western patience somewhere?

Uncertainty is bad for all of us, Russia included! Russia “must” end its current policies! It “must” work with the rest of us to promote certainty!

And when Russia doesn’t?

Charles Crawford was British Ambassador in Sarajevo, Belgrade and Warsaw before leaving the Foreign Office in 2007 to become an international relations consultant and speechwriter. 

Clearly the US and its deluded satrapies in NATO must instigate World War 3 or shut up and start taking their meds again.


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