Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A question to Francois Hollande

An excellent question:

Garry Kasparov @Kasparov63  ·  5h
Hollande still wants to sell warships to Putin. One question for him: Would he do so if it were 193 dead French on MH17, not Dutch?

Putin should be worried: A public inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko announced in the UK

Great news from the UK:

The widow of poisoned Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko has warned her husband’s killers that the “truth will win out” after a public inquiry was announced in to his death.
Marina Litvinenko said that “no matter how strong and powerful you are” justice will be done.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, had told parliament that a public inquiry will now replace the ongoing inquest in the murder of Mr Litvinenko, a former KGB agent, in 2006, as disclosed by The Daily Telegraph.
The Government U-turn means the formal investigation in to his death will now be able to examine whether the Russian state was behind his murder.
The decision is a blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a time when he is already under intense international pressure in the wake of the Malaysia Airlines atrocity in Ukraine.

Yes, indeed, this is a blow to Vladimir Putin, who most likely was aware of what happened. Justice will finally be done "no matter how strong and powerful you are", as Marina Litvinenko put it ...

David Camerons message to Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel: Stop selling arms to Russia

Kudos to David Cameron for speaking out:

The Prime Minister condemned France’s plans to continue with a €1.2 billion (£950 million) sale of warships to Russia. Germany, France and Italy are responsible for 90 per cent of defence exports to Russia, MPs were told.
Mr Cameron said: “We have already unilaterally, as have the US, said that we would not sell further arms to Russia. We believe other European countries should be doing the same thing. Frankly in this country it would be unthinkable to fulfil an order like the one outstanding that the French have. But we need to put the pressure on with all our partners to say that we cannot go on doing business as usual with a country when it’s behaving in this way.”
The US has also urged the French to suspend the Mistral deal. “The Americans are absolutely furious about the French still training Russian military personnel,” said a diplomatic source.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Davis Cameron is finally getting it: Russian billionaires have started to panic about asset freezes and travel bans

Finally, at least the British government begins to react in the proper way against Russia´s criminal dictator:

Vladimir Putin is a threat to Britain’s economy and the country must be prepared to take an “economic hit” by imposing sanctions to stop him, George Osborne has said.
Russia’s disregard for international borders and role in downing flight MH17 poses a risk to the economy that makes sanctions a necessary price to stop him.
Last night David Cameron told Putin in a “frank” phone call that his “cronies” will face further sanctions within days unless Russia withdraws its support for separatist fighters blamed for shooting down the Malaysia Airlines jet over Ukraine, killing 298 people including 10 Britons.
Russian billionaires close to Putin have started to panic, according to some business figures in Moscow. --

The asset freezes and travel bans could target large Russian companies listed on the London Stock Exchange such as Rosneft and Gazprom, the energy giants, as well as oligarchs who have supported Mr Putin. Britain will also push for arms deals to be halted, which could trigger conflict with France because it is selling warships to Russia.
Action against Russia’s elite is likely to harm investors, financiers and lawyers in the City of London where they do business, along with the real estate and luxury goods industries who count wealthy Russians among their clients.
The prospect of asset freezes and wider economic sanctions has left Russia’s business elite “in horror”, Igor Bunin the head of the Centre for Political Technology in Moscow, told Bloomberg news. However, they are terrified to speak out because of the threat of punishment. “Any sign of rebellion and they’ll be brought to their knees.”
Mikhail Kasyanov, who served as Prime Minister under Putin from 2000 to 2004, added: “The threat of sanctions against entire sectors of the economy is now very real and there are serious grounds for business to be afraid. If there will be sanctions against the entire financial sector, the economy will collapse in six months.”

Now we have to see, whether Putin´s de facto allies Germany and France will join in ...

One excellent way to punish Putin: No World Cup!


Here is one excellent way to punish Putin:

How does one punish the autocratic, omnipotent president of a quasi-superpower? It is much harder to do so than to spank the piddling ruler of a smallish rogue state, but options exist. Putin believes that a World Cup in Russia can be sold to his people as an endorsement of his rule. Why should the world become an accomplice in a dictator’s Ponzi scheme of pride? As he preened for the cameras at the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, it was clear that Putin regards Russia’s staging of the cup’s next edition as a propaganda godsend, a global vote for his achievements. Imagine his consternation if he were prevented from putting on such a show.

Putin preys on the fact that the West thinks money and sport are neutral, or at least civilizing influences. So when Russian money comes to Wall Street or the City of London, it stops being political for the West; it is also a peculiarly Western conceit that the gathering together for sport has a civilizing effect on the nations participating. But for Putin, money and sport are tools, or weapons. Hosting the World Cup is the weapon he uses to prove to his people that he is all-powerful, that there is no point in opposing him. In letting him host that cup, we all become part of that weapon.

Read the entire article here

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Telegraph´s former Moscow correspondent John Kampfner: "Putin is a pariah" and "must now be treated as such"

The Telegraph´s former Moscow correspondent John Kampfner´s column is worth reading:

For the past two decades, many around the world have been in denial. Russia was changing, they insisted. And so it has. It has embraced money, private jets and super yachts. For a fleeting few years in the early 1990s it toyed with democracy, only to conclude that this course was synonymous with chaos. Out of this new experiment of bling with brutishness came Vladimir Putin.
Six months into the crisis in Ukraine, the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner marks a defining moment in the West’s approach to Russia. Or at least it should.
Putin is a pariah. He must now be treated as such.
The terrible loss of MH17, with passengers from a dozen nations on board, was tragedy enough. The stories of Dutch families obliterated, scientific experts on their way to a conference in Australia, and Newcastle football fans making the extraordinary journey to New Zealand were heart-rending. Initially, as the facts remained a little unclear, the Russian President could, just could, have salvaged what remained of his international credibility in his response to the crash. He could have expressed his horror at the military escalation in eastern Ukraine, vowing that the perpetrators of the crime would be brought to justice. Then, in time, he might have called for a conference on the future of Russians in Ukraine and ensured that they secured greater autonomy. He would have been able to trade on some goodwill, alongside the power that comes with Russia’s dominance of energy supplies to Europe. Machiavelli would have approved.
Instead he reverted to thuggish type. As state television produced its now familiar diet of propaganda, the president insisted that the Ukrainians only had themselves to blame. Meanwhile, rebel leaders in the crash site area threatened journalists and investigators who tried to piece together the facts. The idea, from the very start of the Ukrainian insurgency, that the balaclava-clad forces in Crimea and the east of the country were a spontaneous reflection of local sentiment was laughable. They have been armed and coordinated from on high, from the Kremlin. Now the order has gone out to eliminate the incriminating evidence. This will be difficult, but Putin’s hope is to muddy the trail just enough that it will allow some European politicians to argue that further sanctions and other repercussions be toned down. --

Europe is divided. Some leaders want tougher action; others, mindful of their dependency on Russian gas, continue to hold back. President Obama is contemplating a further set of sanctions against named individuals and companies deemed to be close to Putin. For all the denials, the earlier rounds have hurt – a little.
The British government’s denunciation of Russian foreign policy and supine embrace of its money is hypocritical and self-defeating. Apart from one or two individuals who have stood up to the Kremlin – and usually ended up in jail – Russia’s billionaires have been his de facto ambassadors, providing glamour to Russia’s international image. They know which side of the fence they are on.

In September 1983 when the Soviets shot down a Korean passenger jet that had strayed into their air space, the Cold War was at its height and Russia was a closed country. Politically and militarily, the Kremlin may not have moved on, but economically the world is very different. Russia’s wealth is tied up in Western banks. Its companies are listed on global stock exchanges. Its oligarchs own prestigious properties in London, Courchevel and the Cote d’Azur. The country that helped them become rich is led by one of the most sinister politicians of the modern age.
This is both Putin’s strength and his weak spot. And this is where the West needs to act.

(bolding by NNoN)

Kampfner is of course spot on, but the likelihood that Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande or David Cameron will seriously act against criminal dictator Putin is unfortunately extremely small. The European "leaders" most probably will continue to use some tough words, but that will be all. "Business interests" dictate the policy of this bunch of weaklings. And I have my  doubts about Obama as well, even if he is at least a little bit tougher right now ...

Putin has blood on his hands - Merkel still speaks about "difficulties in the partnership"!

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has blood on his hands, but his de facto ally Angela Merkel still speaks about "difficulties in the partnership, which we have to overcome"(!):

"Events have shown there must be a political solution, and here it‘s all about Russia‘s responsibility for what is happening in Ukraine right now," she said at her annual press conference in Berlin.

She criticized President Vladimir Putin for failing to act to end the fighting in east Ukraine, where the Kremlin is believed to have sway over separatist rebels, who have rejected Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko‘s offer to extend a ceasefire.

"That gesture of goodwill was not used," said Merkel. "The Russian president has influence over these Russian separatists."

Merkel keeps in regular contact with Putin and said she expected to speak with him again soon.

"I can see no other way than to speak to Putin," she said. "There are difficulties in the partnership, which we have to overcome."

France and Italy are even more reluctant to seriously challenge Putin, as US senator Kelly Ayotte has pointed out:

The United States imposed tougher economic sanctions on Russia less than 24 hours before the attack, but some European leaders — perhaps worried that Russia may cut off energy exports to their countries — balked at punishing Russian President Vladimir Putin for his support of anti-Kiev fighters.
“Is there anything we can do to encourage Europe to stand up?” Mitchell asked, noting that French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi have refused to participate in tough sanctions.
“Well if this turns out what we think it’s going to be, given the strong circumstantial evidence of the Russian-backed separatists bringing down the plane — Europeans were murdered in this,” Ayotte replied. “This is an international outrage.”
“And the Europeans — if they aren’t willing to do the right thing, in light of this commercial plane going down and the innocent people that have been murdered — I think it’s up to the United States to really put on the pressure to shame them into stepping up their economic sanctions,” the senator declared.