|Chancellor Merkel & President Putin|
Update 3 FEB 2015:
Oh for God's sake! Come off it! Do me a Lemon!
Now its Putin The Pedophile. Who are you trying to kid? This is playground halfwit slander. What has happened to reliable, accurate, measured reporting? Even The Guardian is running this drivel.
23 February 2015. BEAR BAITING. At last! some sensible letters published in the Guardian.
What a refreshing change to see common sense written about the Ukrainian crisis. Mary Dejevsky (Russia’s “sinister” long-term plan? A stable Ukraine, 19 February) is right to say that sanctions against Russia, and sabre-rattling by the west, will only make matters worse.
The greeting of last week’s ceasefire deal with “pessimism laced with cynicism” was only to be expected, especially as the UK and US were not involved in the Minsk agreement. We can expect more of “diplomacy’s wrongheadedness” from London and Washington, especially as the Tories will be eager to impress on the British electorate their unwillingness to pander to Putin’s insecurity, acting tough but exacerbating the problem.
Accepting that some blame for the Ukraine problem lies with the west would be a more sensible approach. After all, it was the west that reneged on the promise made to Mikhail Gorbachev in the various talks that preceded German unity. With West Germany being a member of Nato, and the east a member of the Warsaw pact, the need for Russian agreement was imperative, and James Baker, President Bush’s secretary of state, said there would be no extension of Nato’s jurisdiction “one inch to the east”.
Your editorial (19 February) opines that “making the most of Europe’s and America’s economic advantages” is one way forward, but strangely omits the possibility of long-term economic agreements over the supply of gas and oil. With Russia providing around a third of the EU’s oil, and nearly 40% of its gas, wouldn’t a deal to take the same for the next 10 years, at an affordable but considerably higher price than today’s, improve matters, and reduce the possibility of further military conflict?
• Your 21 February editorial rightly stresses that the confrontation over the Donetsk region is as much strategic and diplomatic as military. It does not, however, even mention the underlying cause of the conflict: the redrawing of boundaries within the former Soviet Union following its implosion under Gorbachev.
The countries that emerged post-1990 from the Soviet Union were based on borders that did not meet sustainable definitions of commonality founded on linguistic and political orientation. The error then is further compounded by a manifest failure to accept significant devolution to communities within the new countries. Given all this, why is it a surprise that going to war over the boundaries is disastrous?
Once again the obsession with sovereignty and the nation state is leading us all to the brink of wider conflict.
• It is reassuring that the House of Lords report on the Ukraine crisis (‘Catastrophic’ errors by UK in Ukraine crisis, 20 February), in contrast to Timothy Garton Ash’s attack on Putin and Russia earlier this week (There’ll be no peace while Putin is squatting in Ukraine’s living room, 17 February), provides an unexpectedly nuanced view of Russia and its leader. Of course any glance at the political map of contemporary Europe will show a continent divided, but few in the west seem to recognise that it is the bloc to the west rather than Russia that has been spreading expansionary tentacles beyond traditional boundaries. Since the early 90s, western aims have been to draw countries out of the old Soviet sphere of influence and into Nato. Ukraine has always been seen as the ultimate test as to where the balance lies. The more the west provokes and teases (eg announcements of major troop deployments and old bases reactivated along borders with Russia, together with defence secretary Michael Fallon’s vacuous remarks about the Russian threat being worse than that of Isis), the more Russia and its leader will rise to the bait. Putin may be a nationalistic and vain man but the west does no good to Europe and the world by constantly goading him. In apparently acknowledging this, the lords seem to have been more perceptive in their analysis than many academics, military analysts and European and American politicians.
• The most “catastrophic” error by the UK and EU in Ukraine was surely their failure to honour and support the agreement on the settlement of crisis in Ukraine, brokered and witnessed by the EU on 21 February 2014. The agreement was reached between the then government and opposition, and entailed, inter alia, the formation of a government of national unity. The ink had barely dried on the signatures when it was binned, with the EU going instead for the main chance to forcibly overthrow the elected president.
Had the UK and EU been less hawkish in supporting the pro-EU side, things could be very different now.
• Nato existed during the cold war to offset the power of the Warsaw Pact. When the Warsaw Pact disbanded Nato should have followed suit. It did not. The result is an army and a large contingent of generals with an eye for the next war (what is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation doing fighting a war in Afghanistan?). Now we have General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, Nato’s deputy commander of forces in Europe, broadcasting “an era of constant competition with Russia” and calling for both fast-reacting conventional forces and capacities to counter “Russian efforts at coercion and propaganda” (Report, 21 February).
Nato has now moved right across Europe, even to the Russian border (Estonia and Latvia are members). Now there is talk of Ukraine joining Nato.
We could achieve a much more peaceful world by encouraging Russia to move closer to, and even join, the European Union. Citizens who want a peaceful world – and that is virtually all of us – must ensure that these matters are not left to the generals.
• The situation in the Ukraine and the Baltic states prove that maintaining the Trident system is the only way to keep the Russian bear in check. The British government has proved its military and naval incompetence by aircraft carriers without aircraft and an army without armour, and its failed attempt to recruit reservists to replace the experienced, trained soldiers, sailors and airmen it has forced to leave the services. In spite of these many failed policies, the decision to keep Trident will make up for them. Even the SNP should realise that without Trident there is no way to keep the UK safe from foreign aggression and blackmail.
Like it or not, the nation is going to have to depend on MAD (mutually assured destruction) and Trident as the main ingredients in the defence of the realm for the unseeable future. Any one thinking differently need only look at Ukraine, which gave up its nuclear arsenal at the end of the cold war and now is being torn shreds by Russia. We are back in the world of Dr Strangelove.
George D Lewis
George D Lewis
• Michael Fallon is no doubt right that the Baltic states could be the next flashpoint for Russian expansionism. But Nato sabre-rattling is likely to have perverse results (as did the potential offer of Nato membership to Ukraine). Instead the EU should persuade any Baltic state under threat to ensure an appropriate degree of devolution and language-guarantee in its Russian-speaking areas, and then hold a pre-emptive referendum there, to decide between staying in the democratic west, and once-for-all separation. Russia could be invited to join an international monitoring group to supervise the election – but the operation would need to be carried through without too much delay, before covert KGB activities could distort the outcome. Not easy to arrange in a democratic nation, but not without precedent (Scotland, Quebec) – and the alternative could be very much worse for all concerned.
• We have heard a great deal lately from Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Libya, to name but a few; has anyone heard from the UN?Shipton-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire
John Pilger wrote,
War by media and the triumph of propaganda 5 December 2014 ....The same is true of the Washington Post and the Guardian, both of which have played a critical role in conditioning their readers to accept a new and dangerous cold war. All three liberal newspapers have misrepresented events in Ukraine as a malign act by Russia - when, in fact, the fascist led coup in Ukraine was the work of the United States, aided by Germany and Nato. This inversion of reality is so pervasive that Washington's military encirclement and intimidation of Russia is not contentious. It's not even news, but suppressed behind a smear and scare campaign of the kind I grew up with during the first cold war.
Once again, the evil empire is coming to get us, led by another Stalin or, perversely, a new Hitler.
My addendum to John Pilger's must-read article:
...2 FEB 2015 - Finally – from me - The immensely stupid and totally obvious PR war to paint Ukraine politicians as incorruptible heroes of The New Age; and Putin as a slavering monster, is so pathetic that I can hardly credit that it needs a rebuttal. E.g. Who on God’s Earth can take seriously the recent reporting of the Litvinenko poisoning “Personally authorised by Putin. Putting the entire population of London, all 15 million, at risk. No other national leader, all lovable saints, has ever ordered their spies to dispose of a double-agent such as Litvinenko” (actually a triple-agent).
UPDATE - 8th August 2014. Letter to the Anglo Saxons:
Our sanctions and threats against Putin's Russia are deeply self-harming. (Russia bans EU & US food imports... Guardian 8 Aug 14). The effect will be to drive Russia into more trade with China and India and to abandon our paper tigers, the Euro, Sterling and Dollar; and our crazed crooked casino mostly offshore financial markets. They and we will rapidly realise that the Anglo-Saxon Free Market emperor has no clothes. Russia is the largest country on Earth, a major player in the high-tech space race, with massive valuable natural resources, and a proven capacity for stubborn self-sacrifice that has defeated the worst invaders - such as 20 million Russian deaths to break Hitler - which far outweighs the snub of giving Edward Snowden sanctuary. Russia needs Black Sea ports. Putin is no monster; Russia is our historic ally not enemy. NATO, the EU, Ukraine and the US should negotiate a 200 year lease for Russia on the Crimean ports and eastern access corridor, as the UK had on Hong Kong. Send in the diplomats and keep our friends.
Noel Hodson - Oxford - 8th August 2014.
President Vladimir Putin - Life story and his governance of Russia. Wikipedia
For those few people who can still read between the lines, or at all, it is baffling to try to comprehend the current high level smear campaign against President Putin of Russia. The campaign consists of unspecified allegations and florid adjectives, repeated parrot fashion by most western media and commentators; and repeated, and repeated, and repeated. These smears paint him as an aggressive monster - on a par with Hitler, Stalin, Napoleon, Blair and Bush, and other warmongers who caused the deaths of millions of people. He is no such monster. These critics are either idiots or provocateurs.
Read Wikipedia on the internet. Read about Vladimir Putin, and you will see that he has been a clever, civilized and an exemplary leader of Russia, in one of the greatest societal transitions in history - with hardly any bloodshed or bigotry.
Did Putin fire rockets at the Malaysian airliner over Ukraine? Did he personally sell rockets to the incontinent moronic halfwits who blew-up the passenger jet five miles above them? Is Russia the only weapons maker who sells to lunatic fringe groups? Who are Britain and America supplying now, today?
One of the principal attackers - master of U-turns, personal smears, PR and obfuscation - is Britain's PM, David Cameron. In western democracies, the accused are innocent until proven guilty. How about some specific facts to back up your silly, dangerous rhetoric, Mr Cameron. What are you going to do to Putin? Smack him on the wrist with a wet flannel - or sell him more weapons? What utter posturing nonsense. Tory red-top The Daily Mail, reports:
British lawyers have flown to Ukraine to prepare a class action against the Russian president on behalf of bereaved families
It is almost certain that over the decades - managing the largest country on Earth, 6.5 million square miles, spanning thousands of miles from Sweden to Alaska, and with 143 million people of diverse nationalities, religions and genetics - that whoever governed Russia will have overseen some very bad incidents and tragedies. Is there any nation on Earth where this is not so?
But the upside is that President Putin has rapidly greatly increased Russia's national wealth and wealth distribution. Russia's need for Black Sea ports in Ukraine is self-evident - Russia should not have relinquished them - and maybe they should have reached an accommodation with Ukraine, perhaps along the lines of the British presence in the strategic port of Hong-Kong.
I can only assume that President Putin has trodden on some sensitive western toes, and threatened some lucrative western franchises, to warrant the avalanche of vicious opprobrium being indiscriminately poured on him by hacks and failing politicians, desperate to be seen to be tough - to appeal to stupid voters.
I was born in 1942, after The Battle of Britain, Europe's darkest hour, when the forces of good combined to eliminate the horrible evil of Nazism - with its vile murderous concentration camps and merciless racist SS. Russia was our and Europe's and America's ally - suffering 20,000,000 (twenty million) deaths - and diverting the Nazi war machine from invading Britain, when we were all but beaten and defenseless, to the Eastern Front. Which broke Hitler - as Russia had broken Napoleon in an earlier century.
With his economic record - America ought to recruit Putin as their President for 5 years. He would undoubtedly pay-off the $16 trillion Fiscal Cliff, fix the dilapidated infrastructure, pay living wages - and break the chronic political gridlock in Washington DC.
Who would most Britons prefer as leader - Cameron or Putin?