Conflicts of interests

Nothing in this report surprises me:

A rift was growing between Britain and key allies yesterday as European diplomats pushed back on calls for a firmer response to Russia’s weekend naval clash with Ukraine. The fracture in the Western alliance sets the stage for tense exchanges when European, US, and Russian leaders meet at a G20 summit in Argentina later this week.

Anyone want to guess where the fault lines lie? Here’s one side:

Britain, Poland, and the Baltic States have urged other members of the EU 28 to impose extra measures when existing sanctions against Russia are renewed in December.

The calls have been backed by the US.

And here’s the other:

France and Germany, which brokered a ceasefire and tentative peace accord between Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and Petro Poroshenko, the leader of Ukraine, in 2015, are understood to fear such a move could split the bloc and further inflame tensions.

So much for solidarity over the Skripal poisoning, then. One of the most bizarre spectacles in recent times has been the European media and its gullible consumers portraying Merkel and Macron as standing up for Europe against the Putin bogeyman, while Trump is portrayed as a Russian puppet. Yet whenever it comes to actual policy, Germany and France fall over themselves to avoid anything which might damage the commercial interests of their major firms in Russia, and the same media utters not a peep.

Regardless of what the correct approach to Russia is, the double-dealing on the part of Germany and France – saying one thing, doing the other – is inexcusable. Last week Macron was saying he wants an EU army to protect against, among other things, Russian aggression. Merkel’s approach to NATO, Trump, and Russia requires contortions which are seriously impressive for a woman of her age. The hypocritical, self-serving behaviour of France and Germany who, when it suits them, demand ever-more cooperation and integration from smaller EU states is one of the strongest arguments in favour of Brexit.

On that subject, I’m reminded of something I wrote in a post in April last year:

The Baltic states are completely reliant on Nato to keep the Russians out, which in this case means the United States. However, in diplomatic terms (and probably  a token military one as well) it also means the Brits. If we can imagine a scenario in a few years time when the Russians are massing tanks and troops on the borders of Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania on some pretext and revving the engines noisily, Britain will be one of the countries they will be pleading with to intervene (meaning, persuade the United States to intervene). How Britain responds ought very much to depend on how the Baltic states behaved during the Brexit negotiations.

I’ve noticed that Estonians and Lithuanians have said very little during the Brexit negotiations, and the Latvians have been urging caution. I’m sure it’s occurred to them that with Britain out of the EU they suddenly become a lot more vulnerable to malign Russian influence, be it commercial or even military.

This is why I think the EU will ultimately fail. The European continent, and the islands off it, do have genuine shared interests and concerns but the EU is structured along very different lines. These conflicts are now coming to a head, and at some point in the near future people are going to be asked hard questions as to which alliances matter most to them. I expect it will take some pretty ugly scenes before they find an answer.


14 thoughts on “Conflicts of interests

  1. I don’t see how we have a dog in the fight here, one basket case messing with another doesn’t seem to impact on the U.K. so why get involved?

  2. Worth noting that as part of the Withdrawal Agreement and other bits the UK is signing up to the UK commits to follow EU foreign policy. Some argue that this would extend even to how the UK uses its seat on the security council

  3. A couple of weeks before Brexit I was in the UK and met an academic/policy wonk person who put the blame for the whole Ukraine mess squarely at the door of the EU promising Ukraine support that it simply could not in fact provide.

    Partly they couldn’t provide it because the EU had no convincing military power (and still fails to have any), but they also couldn’t because EU economies are dependent on Russia as both customer and supplier.

    He was notably critical of Merkel as well and said (accurately as far as I can tell) that the result of her various energy policy choices was to make Germany critically dependent on Russian gas with no alternative source of supply in the event that Putin decided to turn the gas tap off.

  4. If there is any fact about Putin it is that he is reactive, defensive and, on occasion, opportunistic. He and Russia are no threats to Europe. If they were, Ukraine would have been occupied up to the Polish border in 2014.

    The real threat to Europe, which everyone seems to ignore, is the Muslim/African invasion, which portends to end European civilization in its home.

  5. “The fracture in the Western alliance sets the stage for tense exchanges when European, US, and Russian leaders meet at a G20 summit in Argentina later this week.”

    And not forgetting the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Xi Jinping and some other high value targets that are coming along to the weekend festivities.

    Now that Ukraine and Russia are on a war footing its shaping up to be a big weekend piss up in downtown Buenos Aries, the last big gathering of the clans for the year with plenty to talk about and the customary exchanging of gifts. I am organizing a surprise visit to downtown BA this weekend as well to take part in the proceedings with some of my Persian mates that are trekking around Bolivia and are now camping out on the Argentine border. I will fly into Bolivia catch up with my mates and then we are all going to cross the border and come in to watch the fireworks go off at the venue located at the Costa Salguero Centre.

    Should be a big night.

    WASHINGTON, DC — Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy Hezbollah has established “large caches of military equipment and explosives” in Bolivia and deployed jihadis to Peru, the U.S. Department of State’s (DOS) top counter-terrorism official Nathan Sales cautioned lawmakers on Wednesday.

    TEHRAN – Chief of the Iranian Armed Forces Mohammad Hossein Baqeri said on Saturday that the Bolivian army is interested in expanding military cooperation with Iran and this is welcomed by Tehran.

    Of no less concern is Venezuela’s long history of collaboration with Iran, including sanctions evasion, terror finance, and ideological subversion. During the presidencies of Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Caracas was a key facilitator of Tehran’s sanctions-busting efforts. The two regimes established business ventures and financial institutions in Venezuela, which they used to launder Iranian money, procure technology, and bribe senior Venezuelan officials.

    Iran’s General Soleimani to Trump: ‘I Will Stand against You’

    TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Major General Qassem Soleimani responded to US President Donald Trump’s announcement that ‘sanctions are coming’ with a Game of Thrones-inspired meme of his own.

  6. He and Russia are no threats to Europe.

    I think that rather depends on which European country you’re sat in.

  7. “This is why I think the EU will ultimately fail. The European continent, and the islands off it, do have genuine shared interests and concerns but the EU is structured along very different lines”
    One reason is because the French do what is best for them. The CFP only came into existance after the UK, Norway, Denmark and Ireland applied to join the EEC, not very good faith and why Norway is not part of the EU today.
    Heath on reading it should have told the Germans, “This goes or we withdraw our troops and you can rely on the French to protect you from the USSR”.

  8. What was the point of the EU, in the first place?

    Every time I’ve asked a normal, everyday citizen of one of the European nations what it was, was supposed to accomplish, and how it was all going to work when you looked at the many and varied inconsistencies and logical flaws in the documents and plans…? I’ve gotten a different and generally wildly incoherent response in return. People who thought they were getting one good thing out of it all are shocked to find out that, really, they aren’t, and people who thought it would be bad “because…”…? Well, a lot of the time, they can’t point to where that has either actually happened or is really in the documents.

    To be honest, as an outsider? Talking to y’all about the issue reminds me of trying to communicate with friends from long ago who have gotten entangled in one of those multi-level marketing schemes, or taken in by someone like Bernie Madoff.

    Based on that, I have a lot of doubt in the long-term prospects for the whole thing.

  9. “If there is any fact about Putin it is that he is reactive, defensive and, on occasion, opportunistic.”

    Yep, Russia’s invincibility lies in its defence, their opportunity for victory is political and it will be taken by Putin’s exceptionalism.

  10. Politicos are missing a trick here.

    G7 G20 – bit of a gap there, I’m sure a few more junkets could be scheduled: G10 , G15 & G25

    Other than MAGA Trump, they’ll do less damage when on a holiday.

    Even better, suspend Parliament when PM out of country. Less time for Green loon MPs to display idiocy eg moaning “clothes are too cheap”

  11. Theresa May to Commons Liaison Committee today:

    “It will be a decision for Parliament as to whether they accept the deal that I and the Government have negotiated on behalf of the European Unio – eh – United Kingdom with the European Union.”

    Perhaps she needn’t have corrected herself…

    …and there it is. Finally. A little bit of honesty.

    When you are trying to sell an orange as a pear to someone you promised a pear too and as an apple, nectarine, peach, kumquat and banana to others it is difficult to keep up with what story you are supposed to tell to whom

  12. I am always surprised when Brits regard French and/or German double dealing, dishonesty or hypocrisy as surprising or unusual.

    It’s not news, it’s olds.

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