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 ...

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