Daily Archives: January 10, 2007

The Financial Times Calls for a Strong Response to Russia

Europe is properly galvanizing against Russia. First the German paper Der Speigel referred to The Putin regime as “frighteningly arrogant” and then, writing in the Financial Times Robin Shepherd, a senior transatlantic fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, calls for a “strong response” from Europe to the litany of recent imperialist outrages by Russia:

As Russia and Belarus sought to blame each other on Monday over the suspension of oil supplies through the northern leg of the Druzhba oil pipeline to Poland and Germany, Europe might well have paused to take stock of its own share of responsibility for the latest threat to its energy security. For, as charge and counter-charge flies between Moscow and Minsk over who is really to blame for the current debacle, the fact is that Europe has done next to nothing in recent years to produce a coherent response to Vladimir Putin’s increasingly authoritarian regime in Russia and far too little to tame Alexander Lukashenko’s brutal dictatorship in Belarus.

The immediate precursor to this deeply worrying state of affairs was Russia’s recent decision to more than double gas prices to Belarus and slap full export duties on Russian crude. Minsk promptly slapped its own duties on Russian oil crossing its territory. The first signs that things were getting really nasty, however, came when Belarus subpoenaed the head of Transneft, Russia’s oil pipeline company, on Saturday for allegedly illegal oil transfers. Transneft’s response was to accuse Belarus of stealing thousands of tonnes of oil from its pipelines.

It would be an understatement to say that Russia miscalculated over this affair, which marks yet another searing indictment of the Kremlin’s handling of former Soviet republics. It is personally humiliating for Mr Putin, who is undoubtedly apoplectic that this spat undid in one night all the hard work that Russia has done in the past year to reassure the west that the halting of gas supplies from Ukraine at the beginning of 2006 was an exception that would never be repeated.

But to argue that the Kremlin initiated the crisis just because it raised gas prices would be unfair. Why, after all, should ordinary Russians pay for other peoples’ energy consumption? If we are going to criticise the Kremlin, we must be clear about where its guilt lies.

The central point is that Mr Putin’s Russia has nurtured the Lukashenko regime for years as a Soviet-style ally that could be relied on to reject the west. When the rest of Europe was slamming the farcical elections held in Belarus last March as blatantly fraudulent, the Kremlin stood alone in upholding them. When the riot police went hell for leather against peaceful demonstrators protesting against those elections, the western world denounced Mr Lukashenko, and Mr Putin supported him.

Having promoted a dictatorship that survives by violence and deceit, Russia cannot be surprised that that same regime fails to respect the rules of fair play. But the extent of the Kremlin’s miscalculation is even greater than that because it really should have known what it was getting into over the last couple of weeks. It has been obvious for years that the Lukashenko regime has been able to survive only by buying off significant sections of the population with state subsidies largely financed through cheap Russian gas supplies. Given the nature and fragility of the regime, it beggars belief that Russia did not realise that raising gas prices would force Mr Lukashenko against the wall.

What happens now is not easy to predict. Mr Lukashenko has shown that, if put under pressure, he is both willing and able to create havoc. Russia, it seems, is daft enough to respond in kind. Europe now finds itself in the absurd situation that its energy security can be compromised by the two most unappealing regimes on the continent. Of course, there are no short-term or easy solutions. But it must surely be time to consider a completely new approach to both countries.

As far as Belarus is concerned, it should now be obvious that there will be no long-term solution to this problem as long as Mr Lukashenko remains in control. He is not only a dictator, he is also a maverick. Russia must have learnt from current events that Mr Lukashenko poses a threat to its interests. There is now an opportunity for Russia and Europe to join forces and do all in their power to bring his regime to an end.

The bigger problem, though, is Russia itself. Europe knows that it must diversify gas and oil supplies and is working out ways to do that. But it must also, finally, recognise that appeasing Mr Putin’s Kremlin as it went from one authoritarian milestone to another has been a mistake. The time for a strong, concerted response from Europe has surely now come. If not now, when?

Robert Mayer Blasts Russian Weaponization of Energy

Publius Pundit’s Robert Mayer has an excellent post exposing Russia’s naked energy imperialism in the wake of the Belarus attack and calling for unified NATO-based action in Europe to oppose further encroachments on European security by neo-Soviet Russia. Feel free to leave your comments on how we can best respond to Russian energy aggression. German Chancellor Merkel has already declared that Russia’s actions are severely undermining its credibility in Europe.

Let’s not forget, too, that not only is Russia interested in imperialsm but also in simply driving up and maintaining the price of crude oil, vital to maintaining Russia’s limited influence in the world. Until the Belarus brouhaha, the price had been seriously eroding and Russia’s stock market had been seriously tanking, meaning that Russia had a direct interest in making the markets nervous (this explains why it provides so much support to the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah).

Ben Stein Rips Putin’s Russia

Writing on Military.com, commentator Ben Stein warns of the falling Iron Curtain in Russia:

Here is a terrifying thought: Europe is now dependent on Russian energy exports for about 40 percent of its daily needs. Europe gets more energy products from Russia than from OPEC, by far. This kind of dependence on Russia would have been unthinkable in Stalin’s day or Brezhnev’s day. Sensible people would have considered that Red Russia was an unreliable supplier and would use its energy exports to control and subjugate Europe. But now, with capitalist, money-mad Russia regnant, we assume that we can trust Russia with keeping the lights on in Paris and Berlin and Rome and Prague, because Russia is a law-abiding society based on human decency.

But Russia has already put the screws on Ukraine and Poland about energy issues and made their people shiver with fear. What is far more ominous, the Russian state is almost surely the cause of the demise of Sasha Litvinenko, the dissident ex-KGB agent who was murdered in London last month by radioactive agent poisoning — by a chemical element available only to governments with major nuclear programs. If Russia was the cause, this officially makes Russia an outlaw, rogue state. (It should not have taken this much; Russia’s behavior in Chechnya has been brutal on a scale hardly imaginable in modern European society.)

Now, I sincerely hope Russia did not kill Litvinenko. I greatly love and admire the Russian people. They beat Hitler. They survived Stalin, and they are a talented, brilliant people. I would like to believe they are living in a new day under new leaders with respect for human rights.

But if Putin did kill Litvinenko, and it sure looks like he did, here’s what we have: Russia, a rogue, murderous state, basically in charge of Europe. Western Europe is now subservient to Russia on a scale unimaginable in the days of the cold war. Even Tony Blair, toughest of the tough, bravest of the brave, cannot bring himself to confront Russia seriously about the murder of a political refugee with official refugee status on British soil by Russian secret police. The UK needs Russian gas too much to openly fight with Russia about this grave insult to British dignity and law. If Tony Blair can’t stand up to Putin, no one in Europe can. Russia now calls the shots from Warsaw to Madrid.

Everyone is worrying like mad about the Moslems taking over Europe. It may well be that Russia has beaten them to the punch. Europe is now in chains of oil and gas, marked “Made in Putin’s Russia.” NATO is meaningless. The pride of France and Germany and Italy is in vain. Energy trumps all else, and Putin sure looks like he has won a very, very big prize.

Someone, please tell me I am wrong. I don’t even dare to want to be right about this.

Ben Stein Rips Putin’s Russia

Writing on Military.com, commentator Ben Stein warns of the falling Iron Curtain in Russia:

Here is a terrifying thought: Europe is now dependent on Russian energy exports for about 40 percent of its daily needs. Europe gets more energy products from Russia than from OPEC, by far. This kind of dependence on Russia would have been unthinkable in Stalin’s day or Brezhnev’s day. Sensible people would have considered that Red Russia was an unreliable supplier and would use its energy exports to control and subjugate Europe. But now, with capitalist, money-mad Russia regnant, we assume that we can trust Russia with keeping the lights on in Paris and Berlin and Rome and Prague, because Russia is a law-abiding society based on human decency.

But Russia has already put the screws on Ukraine and Poland about energy issues and made their people shiver with fear. What is far more ominous, the Russian state is almost surely the cause of the demise of Sasha Litvinenko, the dissident ex-KGB agent who was murdered in London last month by radioactive agent poisoning — by a chemical element available only to governments with major nuclear programs. If Russia was the cause, this officially makes Russia an outlaw, rogue state. (It should not have taken this much; Russia’s behavior in Chechnya has been brutal on a scale hardly imaginable in modern European society.)

Now, I sincerely hope Russia did not kill Litvinenko. I greatly love and admire the Russian people. They beat Hitler. They survived Stalin, and they are a talented, brilliant people. I would like to believe they are living in a new day under new leaders with respect for human rights.

But if Putin did kill Litvinenko, and it sure looks like he did, here’s what we have: Russia, a rogue, murderous state, basically in charge of Europe. Western Europe is now subservient to Russia on a scale unimaginable in the days of the cold war. Even Tony Blair, toughest of the tough, bravest of the brave, cannot bring himself to confront Russia seriously about the murder of a political refugee with official refugee status on British soil by Russian secret police. The UK needs Russian gas too much to openly fight with Russia about this grave insult to British dignity and law. If Tony Blair can’t stand up to Putin, no one in Europe can. Russia now calls the shots from Warsaw to Madrid.

Everyone is worrying like mad about the Moslems taking over Europe. It may well be that Russia has beaten them to the punch. Europe is now in chains of oil and gas, marked “Made in Putin’s Russia.” NATO is meaningless. The pride of France and Germany and Italy is in vain. Energy trumps all else, and Putin sure looks like he has won a very, very big prize.

Someone, please tell me I am wrong. I don’t even dare to want to be right about this.

Ben Stein Rips Putin’s Russia

Writing on Military.com, commentator Ben Stein warns of the falling Iron Curtain in Russia:

Here is a terrifying thought: Europe is now dependent on Russian energy exports for about 40 percent of its daily needs. Europe gets more energy products from Russia than from OPEC, by far. This kind of dependence on Russia would have been unthinkable in Stalin’s day or Brezhnev’s day. Sensible people would have considered that Red Russia was an unreliable supplier and would use its energy exports to control and subjugate Europe. But now, with capitalist, money-mad Russia regnant, we assume that we can trust Russia with keeping the lights on in Paris and Berlin and Rome and Prague, because Russia is a law-abiding society based on human decency.

But Russia has already put the screws on Ukraine and Poland about energy issues and made their people shiver with fear. What is far more ominous, the Russian state is almost surely the cause of the demise of Sasha Litvinenko, the dissident ex-KGB agent who was murdered in London last month by radioactive agent poisoning — by a chemical element available only to governments with major nuclear programs. If Russia was the cause, this officially makes Russia an outlaw, rogue state. (It should not have taken this much; Russia’s behavior in Chechnya has been brutal on a scale hardly imaginable in modern European society.)

Now, I sincerely hope Russia did not kill Litvinenko. I greatly love and admire the Russian people. They beat Hitler. They survived Stalin, and they are a talented, brilliant people. I would like to believe they are living in a new day under new leaders with respect for human rights.

But if Putin did kill Litvinenko, and it sure looks like he did, here’s what we have: Russia, a rogue, murderous state, basically in charge of Europe. Western Europe is now subservient to Russia on a scale unimaginable in the days of the cold war. Even Tony Blair, toughest of the tough, bravest of the brave, cannot bring himself to confront Russia seriously about the murder of a political refugee with official refugee status on British soil by Russian secret police. The UK needs Russian gas too much to openly fight with Russia about this grave insult to British dignity and law. If Tony Blair can’t stand up to Putin, no one in Europe can. Russia now calls the shots from Warsaw to Madrid.

Everyone is worrying like mad about the Moslems taking over Europe. It may well be that Russia has beaten them to the punch. Europe is now in chains of oil and gas, marked “Made in Putin’s Russia.” NATO is meaningless. The pride of France and Germany and Italy is in vain. Energy trumps all else, and Putin sure looks like he has won a very, very big prize.

Someone, please tell me I am wrong. I don’t even dare to want to be right about this.

Ben Stein Rips Putin’s Russia

Writing on Military.com, commentator Ben Stein warns of the falling Iron Curtain in Russia:

Here is a terrifying thought: Europe is now dependent on Russian energy exports for about 40 percent of its daily needs. Europe gets more energy products from Russia than from OPEC, by far. This kind of dependence on Russia would have been unthinkable in Stalin’s day or Brezhnev’s day. Sensible people would have considered that Red Russia was an unreliable supplier and would use its energy exports to control and subjugate Europe. But now, with capitalist, money-mad Russia regnant, we assume that we can trust Russia with keeping the lights on in Paris and Berlin and Rome and Prague, because Russia is a law-abiding society based on human decency.

But Russia has already put the screws on Ukraine and Poland about energy issues and made their people shiver with fear. What is far more ominous, the Russian state is almost surely the cause of the demise of Sasha Litvinenko, the dissident ex-KGB agent who was murdered in London last month by radioactive agent poisoning — by a chemical element available only to governments with major nuclear programs. If Russia was the cause, this officially makes Russia an outlaw, rogue state. (It should not have taken this much; Russia’s behavior in Chechnya has been brutal on a scale hardly imaginable in modern European society.)

Now, I sincerely hope Russia did not kill Litvinenko. I greatly love and admire the Russian people. They beat Hitler. They survived Stalin, and they are a talented, brilliant people. I would like to believe they are living in a new day under new leaders with respect for human rights.

But if Putin did kill Litvinenko, and it sure looks like he did, here’s what we have: Russia, a rogue, murderous state, basically in charge of Europe. Western Europe is now subservient to Russia on a scale unimaginable in the days of the cold war. Even Tony Blair, toughest of the tough, bravest of the brave, cannot bring himself to confront Russia seriously about the murder of a political refugee with official refugee status on British soil by Russian secret police. The UK needs Russian gas too much to openly fight with Russia about this grave insult to British dignity and law. If Tony Blair can’t stand up to Putin, no one in Europe can. Russia now calls the shots from Warsaw to Madrid.

Everyone is worrying like mad about the Moslems taking over Europe. It may well be that Russia has beaten them to the punch. Europe is now in chains of oil and gas, marked “Made in Putin’s Russia.” NATO is meaningless. The pride of France and Germany and Italy is in vain. Energy trumps all else, and Putin sure looks like he has won a very, very big prize.

Someone, please tell me I am wrong. I don’t even dare to want to be right about this.

Ben Stein Rips Putin’s Russia

Writing on Military.com, commentator Ben Stein warns of the falling Iron Curtain in Russia:

Here is a terrifying thought: Europe is now dependent on Russian energy exports for about 40 percent of its daily needs. Europe gets more energy products from Russia than from OPEC, by far. This kind of dependence on Russia would have been unthinkable in Stalin’s day or Brezhnev’s day. Sensible people would have considered that Red Russia was an unreliable supplier and would use its energy exports to control and subjugate Europe. But now, with capitalist, money-mad Russia regnant, we assume that we can trust Russia with keeping the lights on in Paris and Berlin and Rome and Prague, because Russia is a law-abiding society based on human decency.

But Russia has already put the screws on Ukraine and Poland about energy issues and made their people shiver with fear. What is far more ominous, the Russian state is almost surely the cause of the demise of Sasha Litvinenko, the dissident ex-KGB agent who was murdered in London last month by radioactive agent poisoning — by a chemical element available only to governments with major nuclear programs. If Russia was the cause, this officially makes Russia an outlaw, rogue state. (It should not have taken this much; Russia’s behavior in Chechnya has been brutal on a scale hardly imaginable in modern European society.)

Now, I sincerely hope Russia did not kill Litvinenko. I greatly love and admire the Russian people. They beat Hitler. They survived Stalin, and they are a talented, brilliant people. I would like to believe they are living in a new day under new leaders with respect for human rights.

But if Putin did kill Litvinenko, and it sure looks like he did, here’s what we have: Russia, a rogue, murderous state, basically in charge of Europe. Western Europe is now subservient to Russia on a scale unimaginable in the days of the cold war. Even Tony Blair, toughest of the tough, bravest of the brave, cannot bring himself to confront Russia seriously about the murder of a political refugee with official refugee status on British soil by Russian secret police. The UK needs Russian gas too much to openly fight with Russia about this grave insult to British dignity and law. If Tony Blair can’t stand up to Putin, no one in Europe can. Russia now calls the shots from Warsaw to Madrid.

Everyone is worrying like mad about the Moslems taking over Europe. It may well be that Russia has beaten them to the punch. Europe is now in chains of oil and gas, marked “Made in Putin’s Russia.” NATO is meaningless. The pride of France and Germany and Italy is in vain. Energy trumps all else, and Putin sure looks like he has won a very, very big prize.

Someone, please tell me I am wrong. I don’t even dare to want to be right about this.