Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Putin puts the boot in - part 666


Ukraine and Georgia’s bid to join Nato, and the anti-missile shield, which the Czech side have now signed up to and the Polish side appears close, are bringing out the beast in Vladimir Putin, as his days as president near an end.

According to the Russian daily Kommiersant, last Friday in Bucharest, President Putin said that if Ukraine and Georgia ever do become full Nato members then Russia would have every right to take back part of Ukraine, the Crimea and the Georgian breakaway states of Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia!

If the German and French side were having doubts about accepting Ukraine and Georgia into the first stage of Nato membership, the Membership Action Plan - and Paris and Berlin were - then that must have settled it. Both the ex-Soviet countries were told by Nato leaders that yes, they would be asked to join the North Atlantic alliance, but not now. Not yet.

Game and set to Putin.

Unfortunately, Nato also endorsed the US plan for an anti-missile system in Central Europe.

Game and second set to George W. Bush.

Today, in a meeting between deputy foreign minsters of Poland and Russia, Moscow demanded that if Poland should host their portion of the anti-missile system then Russia must have full access to the facility.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, confirmed this demand.

‘Our constant presence at those sites is of key importance to us, so that we know at every second that the radar is not penetrating our territory and interception rockets do not pose a threat to us. Lavrov was quoted as saying in the Kremlin’s Komsomolskaya Pravda’ newspaper.

Not surprisingly, the Polish side said ‘No’.

‘Certainly, there is no way that Russians should be granted the right to be stationed in Poland. That belongs in the past and will never come back,’ said Polish deputy foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski.

It’s hard to know how much of this is hard-ball bluff and how much of it Russia expects to be taken seriously. Demanding constant access to a facility in Poland surly must come under the slightly daft bluff. But what about Moscow’s threat to break up Ukraine ?

That one is a little more complicated as a majority of Ukrainians don’t want to be in Nato. Around half of Ukrainians don’t speak Ukrainian as a first language, but Russian. How unified a nation is Ukraine in the first place?

Whatever - if Moscow thinks that these kind of antics, in the fag end of Putin’s presidency, and on the cusp of his new job as prime minister, will make the anti-missile shield less popular in Poland then…well, they are wrong. They are actually helping Warsaw get more dollars out of Washington to beef up its armed forces in return for babysitting Bush’s anti-missile shield.

20 comments:

jannowak57 said...

Beatroot said: “They are actually helping Warsaw get more dollars out of Washington to beef up its armed forces in return for babysitting Bush’s anti-missile shield.”

We’ll take help from were ever we can get it, the current Russian foreign policy has over played it’s hand. The more Russia plays the regional bad guy the more Poland benefits in its dealings with Washington.

In the western world justification or I should say rather indirect justification for Nato expansion is Russian belligerence and neo-imperial foreign policy. Russia remains at best a regional power with a very weak internal system. But as everyone benefits from this noisy paper tiger all is well.

Nato military expansion and the Missile Shield means:

A Nato bogeyman helps the Kremlin advance the authoritarian agenda that I guess will soon meet the definition of the word totalitarian.

The Missile Shield helps pay for upgrading Polish defences.

Nato expansion represents an increased sense of security for Poland.

Ukraine and Georgia shake off the bogeyman and advance into the western world.

Arms manufactures do a booming business.

Life is beautiful, be happy.

But, one moment Russia has an actual weapon besides Kremlin bullshit that they have yet to use. Ethnic Russians living outside Russia pose a real threat to countries like the Ukraine. Moscow has so far chosen not to use this weapon; it could set the Ukraine on fire. I expect that the Ukraine’s position of being the transit point for Russian oil heading west (therefore money heading east) is the restraint. If Russia could ever bypass this country then watch out.

beatroot said...

In the western world justification or I should say rather indirect justification for Nato expansion is Russian belligerence and neo-imperial foreign policy.

This is the point. There has been a lot of talk about nato being ín crisis'. After the Cold war 'what is it for...'? and now we have a two-tiered Nato - note Afghanistan: US, UK, canada, Poland are the guys getting their heads blown off, for what we no not.

and then along comes a putin, huffin and a puffin. Cue Ukraine, Georgia etc desperate to get into the Nato in crisis.

I don't know if there is something subtly clever about Moscow's stand on all this, or are they just daft?

Anonymous said...

Beet - That is one scary photo of Putin, hope I don't have nightmares tonight!

Is x

beatroot said...

666

jannowak57 said...

Beatroot said... “are they just daft”

From our western prospective they are daft, but that isn’t their prospective. In their view they have to hold a weak country together whose institutions are fragile or non-functioning. There is no longer an ideological glue to achieve this but rather a single authoritarian leader and the instrument of primitive nationalism as the favoured mechanism. To complete the process of control, the state manufactures imagined treats and enemies to justify its grip on society. By opting to abandon and condemn the brief journey they took in the direction of liberal democracy, they have killed their only hope of constructing a civil society, strong institutions and the rule of law.

The Russian political elites do not fear Nato as a military treat but rather they fear Nato as being the vehicle that could bring democracy and rule of law to their borders and thereby undermine their ability to rule. Their ability to rule translates in to the kleptocracy’s ability to loot state assets, Russia has more billionaires in government than any state on earth.

Putin’s job is to keep the various clans in the Kremlin from going after each other and thereby creating a state of chaos, which is bad for business (or looting of state assets).

Russia’s ruling elites come from the same mould for the most part and they are fundamentally trapped in a mindset that is directly opposed to western values. The following is from a Russian researcher who studied the Kremlin leadership:

“An astounding 78 percent of the country's leadership has links to the KGB or FSB, according to estimates by Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a leading sociologist who tracks Kremlin politics and the security services. Twenty-six percent of the officials acknowledge their involvement, while the rest give themselves away "by the holes in their resumes," Kryshtanovskaya said.

In addition to filling government and company posts with intelligence officers, Putin has restored to the FSB much of the power and glory enjoyed by the KGB.

At the same time, a kind of spy mania has swept the country, with the FSB seeming to see enemies in every corner and accusing dozens of scientists of espionage.”

So lets expect more Russian antics rather than less and be aware that when they are met with firmness and resolute response they just go away.

geez said...

57: "Russia has more billionaires in government than any state on earth."

I find this hard to believe. Proof?

And hasn't NATO (or whatever)already brought democracy to Russia's borders? Why should they fear something happening in the future that already exists?

Met with firmness, Russian antics go away? Proof or is this just wishful swagger and thinking?

beatroot said...

You have to remember that most Russians like Putin. No doubt about that. why? because yeltsin humiliated them. That's what they think. The only good thing about yeltsin is that appointed Putin as successor. Since then they have seen their living standards approve and they feel 'respected'and not laughed at abraod.

So the price they pay for that is authoritarianism...but when has it ever been different in Russia? and what you never had, maybe you don't miss.

jannowak57 said...

Financial Post

“Russia had the second-highest number of billionaires in the world this year, but when it comes to wealth in government, the former Soviet Union is clearly No. 1.
Twelve billionaires now hold seats in the country's parliament, with a total net worth of $41 billion, sitting alongside the less wealthy lawmakers, worth merely in the hundreds of millions.
Russian billionaires don't limit themselves to legislative seats; there's at least one billionaire governor, and the mayor of Moscow is married to another.”

See full article:
www.financialpost.com/reports/story.html?id=431285

jannowak57 said...

beatroot said...” when has it ever been different”

I don’t buy into the notion that the Russians are hopelessly doomed as people to suffer under authoritarianism or totalitarianism because they are just not capable of anything else. I’ve met enough Russians over the years to known they have their share good capable people that share European values and would like to see their country advance in that direction. The forces of liberal democracy in Russia have been shamefully abandoned by the west and a set of blinders is in place when dealing with the Putin regime.

jannowak57 said...

geez said...” already brought democracy to Russia's borders”

Nato hasn’t brought democracy to Russia’s border but rather the example of the EU has. The young and still fragile democracies need security to continue their development. Russia is not pleased by the example they set and still sees the situation as reversible. Under what premises does Russia have a say in what collective defence agreement the Ukraine or George wish to participate in?

geez said...” is this just wishful swagger and thinking?”

Let me illustrate this with a very recent action by the UK, as the Russians ramped up the rhetoric and bluster when confronted with the assassination of an exile the relation between the two countries reach an all time low. In the past Russian business men were able to attend a meeting in the UK and get a visa for several days stay. Now this changed all of a sudden you can attend your meeting and on your way home that business day. Suddenly no shopping, good restaurants or viewing newly purchased assets. It seems the Kremlin got the message from its moneyed elites, tone it down our lifestyle just got affected. The UK sent them an un-dramatic but effective message and they seem to understand the language.

Appease the antics and expect more nonsense, remember the Russians are acting out of weakness and fear.

geez said...

Well, at least these 12 Russians don't go through the charade of just buying politicians -- although they prolly own a more than a few as well.

And there was a Forbes listing of billionaires with quite a few pages linked to that article which unfortunately didn't give any kind of country-by-country enumeration of billionaire politicos.

geez said...

57: "The Russian political elites do not fear Nato as a military treat but rather they fear Nato as being the vehicle that could bring democracy and rule of law to their borders and thereby undermine their ability to rule."

57: "Nato hasn’t brought democracy to Russia’s border but rather the example of the EU has. The young and still fragile democracies need security to continue their development. Russia is not pleased by the example they set and still sees the situation as reversible."

>> It seems like you are minimizing, to say the least, any kind of link between NATO and the EU. In any case, the Russians do not fear what might happen as it already exists. I really doubt that they see the situation of democracy to their west as reversible. I don't think they are the complete and utter idiots you scope them out to be. And you yourself argue that the Russian elites do not give two squats about democracy. It's foreign to them and it will stay that way. And so, too, with most of the Russian people as long as there are "enemy" missile bases nearby. Keep racheting up the percieved threat and you can forget about any kind of democracy in Russia in the foreseeable future. Guys like you are Putin's greatest allies.

jannowak57 said...

geez said... “I really doubt that they see the situation of democracy to their west as reversible.”

It makes no sense to compromise the security of the newly democratic states to the west of Russia on the basis of the faint hope that in appeasement we may somehow prop up the forces of liberal democracy in Russia or at least promote their survival. I would expect any student of European history would understand the folly of appeasement.

Dealing with Russia is a problem to many in the west because they approach Russia with a western cultural prospective are not accepting the Russians have a very different culture that in many ways it hampers understanding and the establishment of shared values.

Once democracy takes hold in a country it’s the duty of all democracy to secure its survival. If not duty an act of common sense.

No argument in favour of Russia’s position can contain merit in so far as the interests of the ruling elites, which dragged their country to the brink of totalitarianism, cannot possibly coincide with the advancement and preservation of western democracy in the region.

geez said...

57, I guess you really do view Russia as intent upon reestablishing its control of the former Soviet bloc. A rather fanciful perspective but one I'm sure from which I can't dislodge you.

Seems to me that the installation of the missile base does more to compromise Poland's security than not putting it there.

Opposing the missile base is not "appeasement;" rather it seems to be the democratic will of the Polish people, at least as indicated by opinion polls. So much for not wanting to compromise democracy, heh?

jannowak57 said...

geez said...”democratic will of the Polish people, at least as indicated by opinion polls”

If you view that democracy is purely a representative exercise then I would agree. I understand this is popular view in the US. However under other models of democracy you elect leaders who make informed decisions according to their conscience and their understanding of the nations needs. Government by opinion polls seems a very poor way of running a country when you consider that most democracies will refrain from using the referendum tool with complicated issues.

geez said...” view Russia as intent upon reestablishing its control of the former Soviet”

I can only work with what Putin’s Russia says and does. Putin’s position is clear and restated directly to a western journalist: “his belief that the dissolution of the Soviet Union was a tragedy”. The aggressive and endless bullying of the neighbours, do as we say or we aim weapons at you or you will be subject to dire consequences. If it were only Poland on the receiving end of this behaviour but the club is relatively large in addition Georgia and the Ukraine the three Baltic republics face the same problem. The Czech Republic, which doesn’t even border on Russia, has concerns about Russian behaviour, which has influenced their decision process in favour of the US radar base. Russian conduct has resulted in the likely placement of the missiles in Poland and the Radar in the Czech Republic.

As I have said before the military value of the missiles to Poland is zero, the political value is immense as it represents the region making a visible statement of independence and rejection of Russia’s neo-imperial foreign policy.

Russian democrats view Putin with similar suspicions, Kasparov : "Putin wants to rule like Stalin but live like Abramovich," he says, referring to Roman Abramovich, the billionaire Russian oil trader who owns London's Chelsea soccer team. "Putin's system is more like Mafia than democracy."

geez said...

So what you are saying in a nutshell, 57, is that the masses are asses.

About bullying.... well, Russia does have the gas and oil.

And you want to ally totally with the US, which won't even give Poles visas. And some countries consider US policy to be bullying. Is it? Well, you will say it only matters whether that will be the case for Poland. Who gives a flying flip what goes on vis-a-vis the US and other countries. Complete relativism. No sense of morality outside of the end justifies the means -- which ultimately justifies whatever either Putin or Bush want to do.

jannowak57 said...

geez said... “the masses are asses”

Certainly they can be.

geez said... “well, Russia does have the gas and oil”

They are entitled to make a good profit on their resources, but not to abuse their neighbours. The lack of human rights in Russia also translates into disrespect on the part of the Kremlin for the rights of their neighbours.

geez said... “ which won't even give Poles visas ”

The US not allowing Poles to have visa free access is completely consistent with long standing US policy and reflects the current economic status of the Poland.

geez said... “you want to ally totally with the US ”

Were interests coincide or the cost benefit factor makes sense then yes. Is there another global superpower we can work with?

geez said... “US and other countries”

If the US goes off side in its relationship to some country it doesn’t give license for anyone else to follow suit. I suppose if you get caught shoplifting telling the judge your not the only shoplifter out there isn’t much of a defence.

Mawngkawhur said...

Russia has most Billionaires? LOL!


Countries with most Billionaires

1 United States of America 371
2 Germany 56
3 Russia 47
4 India 40
5 United Kingdom 34
6 Australia 30
7 Japan 27
8 Turkey 25
9 Canada 22
10 Brazil 18

Thats from 2006. Ha ha!

I love it how people exaggerate everything about Russia from poverty to Bollionaires to supercars.

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