Saturday, March 1, 2014

Everything but

So what should the West do about Russia's invasion of Ukraine?

It's clear that direct military intervention would be very dangerous, given that Russia is armed to the teeth and has nukes.  That doesn't mean, however, that the West should sit on its hands, as it did with respect to Georgia in 2008.  In Vladimir Putin the world faces an acute threat to its security.  He must be humiliated sufficiently that his own people decide to get rid of him.

Here's some things that should be done:

1.  NATO troops should secure the hinterland of Ukraine, allowing the Ukrainian Army to deploy on the front line.  NATO airpower should be moved from Afghanistan to the Black Sea.  This will dissuade Moscow from further adventures (e.g. trying to create enclaves in the East or around Odessa).

2.  With NATO troops in place, Transnistria should be squeezed out of existence (e.g. by sealing the border).  This will eliminate the threat to Ukraine's back.

3.  Stiff sanctions should be placed on Russia.  These should target the leadership (e.g. through travel bans and banking restrictions).  They should also target Russia's oil and gas exports and inwards investment.  Russia needs to be starved of the wherewithal to keep its military machine running.  I appreciate that this will hurt the Russian people, but I don't see an alternative.

4.  Russian propaganda broadcasts need to be blocked in the Black Sea region.  I know that sounds like clamping down on free speech, however we are in an emergency situation here, and it is important that citizens aren't fed a diet of lies and mis-information.

5.  Russian membership in international organisations (WTO, G8 etc.) should be suspended where there are grounds to do this (e.g. WTO suspension is likely justified by Russia's frequent politicised bans on its neighbours' produce)

6.  FIFA should move the 2018 world cup to another host.  If they fail to do this, democratic nations should boycott it and organise an alternative tournament elsewhere.  Putin should not preside over another major international sporting event.

7.  Efforts to diversify energy sources in Europe (e.g. renewables, shale, pipelines from the Caspian & North Africa) should be redoubled.

If you have other ideas, please enter them as comments.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Security Guarantees Given to Ukraine

As part of a deal for Ukraine to relinquish the nuclear weapons it had inherited from the Soviet Union, certain security guarantees were given to Ukraine under the 5 December 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.  According to Wikipedia:

Russia, the UK and the USA undertake to respect Ukraine's borders in accordance with the principles of the 1975 CSCE Final Act, to abstain from the use or threat of force against Ukraine, to support Ukraine where an attempt is made to place pressure on it by economic coercion, and to bring any incident of aggression by a nuclear power before the UN Security Council.

Following recent events in Ukraine and more specifically in the Crimea,  the UK and the USA are now obliged to bring Russia's threats of force, economic coercion and incidents of aggression to the UN Security Council.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A guide for Russian commentators on Euromaidan.

This is a nazi:

This is a terrorist:

These are Euromaidan protesters:

Hopefully now you'll be able to tell the difference.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Stopping Putin

It's got to stop.

In Georgia he invaded on a flimsy pretext and attacked a constitutional, democratic government, grabbing territory and installing massive, menacing military capability in Abkhazia & South Ossetia.

In the north Caucasus he props up the nasty little regime of Ramzan Kadyrov and has foreigners skiing on the graves of Circassians killed in a 19th century genocide.

He is trying to destabilise Moldova and derail its European accession plans by generating discontent among the Gagauz, by having his Transnistrian puppet make mischief, and apparently by trying to bribe members of the pro-Europe governing coalition to switch sides.

In Syria, he is arming and defending the regime of Bashar al-Assad, creating and feeding the bogeyman of Al-Qaeda to deflect the West from taking more decisive action against the mad and genocidal Syrian government.

Now in Ukraine, he pays Yanushenko 2 billion euros, who then begins a bloody, Tienanmen-style crackdown on the pro-civilisation protesters in the Maidan, possibly initiating a civil war that will have terrible consequences for the region as a whole.

The international community needs to realise (and quickly) that Russia has started a new cold war.  Unlike the first cold war, this one is not declared.  Unlike the first cold war, the West has few defences in place, having been lulled into a false sense of security.  Unlike the first cold war, there is no stale-mate along an iron curtain, but instead a series of creeping advances by Putin's forces (be they military, diplomatic or economic).

The tendency of western leaders is to avoid conflict and seek peaceful, negotiated outcomes.  While laudable, that is what Putin is counting on.  Take a mile, then surrender a few inches to appease international opinion.  Then take another mile, cede a few inches.  Then repeat, again and again.

Putin needs to be stopped.  He needs to be publicly humiliated so that the Russian people will see him for what he is.  Losing Ukraine to the civilised World would do the trick, I think.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The sun breaks through

After 2 years of messing around, can it be that common sense is about to enter stage left?  Can we dare to hope for an outcome to Moldova's interminable presidential selection process that would be good for her people rather than her politicians?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Royal Proposition

What two things do the following countries have in common?

Denmark, Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Scenes of protest by predominantly young people in the developed world continue to cross our television screens.  The causes are mixed and the aims are varied, but there is a common thread: a sense that the dream is over, and that this generation will be the first since the industrial revolution whose prospects in life will be worse than those of their parents.