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Russia EU Rapprochement: Cui Bono?

by Frank Schnittger Thu Aug 7th, 2014 at 12:59:00 PM EST

Usually when I write a diary it is because I want to present a thesis and make an argument; one I have not seen expressed elsewhere, but one which I think has at least some evidence pointing in its favour.  My hope is that commentators here will either debunk the thesis or present further supporting facts/arguments.

Thus in Time for Europe to get real I presented the argument that if the EU has a problem with Russian actions in Ukraine, the appropriate response is not sanctions, but a strategic plan to reduce European energy dependence on Russian gas.

In An Irish perspective on Scottish Independence, I expressed surprise at the lack of debate on the case for and against Scottish indepence both here and elsewhere outside the UK, and tried to fill some of that gap by providing a perspective based on the Irish historical experience of independence.

And in Merkel, Putin & Obama: The changing balance of power I tried to present a thesis that the USA has engaged in imperial over-reach and has alienated many potential allies in the process, so much so that Merkel and Putin may even be driven to reach an historic rapprochement in an effort to restore some sanity and balance to world affairs.

I am very grateful to the many commentators here and elsewhere who have added to our collective knowledge of these topics, but also a bit non-plussed that two of the last three diary discussion threads have been largely taken over by a discussion of the causes of the MH17 tragedy, especially after Colman had already published a front page story on that subject.


Ultimately, an authoritative and widely accepted finding of who was responsible for the disaster could have a bearing on future EU/Ukraine/Russian relations, at least in the short term. But the larger problem of ensuring EU/Ukraine/Russian relationships develop more positively in the future remains much the same regardless of who was ultimately responsible.

If it turns out to have been East Ukrainian insurgents with or without direct Russian support, it surely weakens their legitimacy and case to have an autonomous homeland of their own within or apart from the Russian Federation.  If it turns out to have been a "false flag" Ukrainian Government operation, it undermines their legitimacy and points to a need to form some kind of Government of National unity excluding extreme nationalist elements.  

If, as I think most likely, it turns out to have been an error by one side or the other, it underlines the need for all sides to de-escalate the rhetoric, the fighting, and the arms race and come to some kind of negotiated settlement. At some point the adults have to re-enter the room.

So what would a Russia/Ukraine/EU rapprochement look like? What sort of constitutional structure would benefit Ukrainians the most? Would the Russian tendency towards authoritarian rule and suppression of civil liberties infect the wider European body politic and reinforce authoritarian trends already evident there?

Would counterbalancing a submissive relationship towards the USA with closer ties to Russia make little difference to the conduct of world affairs in other hot spots such as in the Middle east?  Would an EU/Russia rapprochement be a positive or negative development in terms of economic development, sustainable energy and climate change, and human rights in Europe and around the world?

Is an EU Russia rapprochement even desirable if it leads to much more strained relationships with the USA?  How would such a rapprochement effect the internal political dynamics of EU member states? Would it hasten the exit of the UK? Who are the main winners and losers of such a rapprochement - the Oligarchs or European peoples as a whole? Would US politics become more or less polarized if there were a dawning realization all round that the New American Century actually marks a period of US imperial over-reach and decline?

Hopefully we can discuss something other than whodunnit for a while.

Display:
Well said!
by Oui on Thu Aug 7th, 2014 at 02:15:24 PM EST
Of course the greatest likelihood is that there will be no "authoritative and widely accepted finding of who was responsible" in which case the conspiracy theorists and amateur military analysts will continue to have a field say. Hopefully this will not completely distract from to need to discuss the more substantive issues of how we can prevent such disasters in the future - at least over the Ukraine.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 7th, 2014 at 02:56:06 PM EST
Post-WWII Finland would seem to be the obvious example for Ukraine to follow. Non-NATO, non-aligned, free to trade with both blocs.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Aug 7th, 2014 at 04:33:31 PM EST
Would Russia regard Finland, as an EU member, to be neutral?

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 7th, 2014 at 04:47:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was referring to Finland's status between WWII and the fall of the Comecon bloc.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Aug 7th, 2014 at 05:23:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The course is on the opposite of reapproachment, it appears. Every side does what it can do, no matter the cost. In particular:

EU airlines [w]ould suffer from Russian airspace sanctions

This may escalate even faster, with the NATO secretary in Kiev.

by das monde on Thu Aug 7th, 2014 at 07:22:19 PM EST
EU Airlines Could Suffer From Russian Airspace Sanctions - Bloomberg

Russia would also be disproportionately hurt by any tit-for-tat move from the European Union to close its own airspace to Aeroflot and peers, said Oliver Sleath, a Barclays Plc analyst in London.

"This is extremely unlikely to happen because the response would be more crippling to the Russian economy," Sleath said. Russian flights that cross EU airspace outnumber European carriers' trips over Siberia, he said.

Shares of Aeroflot were trading 4.9 percent lower at 44.69 rubles as of 6:37 p.m. in Moscow following a 5.9 percent drop yesterday, taking the decline this year to 47 percent, the sharpest on the 42-member BI Global Airlines index.

This doesn't sound like a great idea, from anyone's perspective, not to mention the fact that 18% of Aeroflot's revenues come from Russian overflight charges to foreign airlines.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 07:07:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I found this from last year :
EU, Russia In Stalemate On Siberian Overflight Fees | AWIN content from Aviation Week
The EU and Russia--in 2006--agreed in principle that new overflight rights issued to European airlines from January 2012 should be free of charge and legacy Siberian fees would be abolished from 2014. The agreement was fine-tuned in 2011 and was a precondition for the EU to give its green light to Russia's World Trade Organization accession. Russia however withheld the new "free of charge" rights in protest against the EU ETS.

This, despite the fact that the ETS is deferred until 2016:
EU ETS `Stop-the-Clock' Scope Extended Till 2016 | AWIN content from Aviation Week

The European governing institutions have hammered out a compromise deal to prolong the "stop-the-clock" provision on the European Union Emissions Trading System (ETS) for aviation to cover only flights operated within the European Economic Area till the end of 2016. This will ease international opposition to the system and give the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) time to devise a global mechanism to curb aviation emissions.


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 07:35:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, airlines are big CO2 emitters, so that is a silver lining.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 06:06:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not if they end up flying longer routes...

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 06:14:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cui Bono? Everybody's bono. Do we really need another Great Power conflict in Europe?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 04:27:44 AM EST
Then why are things apparently currently moving in the opposite direction?

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 07:09:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because it depends on the composition of 'we'. I agree with Mig for a value of 'we' = EU; for 'we' = EU + USA, not so much. But this is due not so much to the effects an escalation of tensions has on the US population as to the effects it has on US elite agendas.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 07:55:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. Because Putin, after his 2012 victory and his stepwise changes of the law to minimise critical voices, is increasingly confident in displaying his philosophy of 'Greater Russia' , also publicly. The same philosophy likely formed a basis of previous military actions, but Putin and his tight circle of confidantes kept more muted about it.

  2. I suspect that the latest development are more likely driven by the presence of Russian forces close to the Ukrainian border for over half a year now. The MH17 attack was in that case, rightly or not, seized upon by EU-nations and NATO to display visible hard power: toting guns and economic sanctions (or the reverse).
Other than this being a common reflex by the Western powers that be, I suspect it also is driven by the idea that such response is seen by Western leaders as the only possible language Russia (Putin) understands. Though it begs the question how Russia actually perceives it. Of course what happens on the diplomat front is far less visible to the public eye.
by Bjinse on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 08:29:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
" is increasingly confident in displaying his philosophy of 'Greater Russia' , also publicly. "

Up to a point. But isn't he a captive of nationalistic russian opinion with the usual irreal expectations of nationalists now?

by IM on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 08:38:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Up to a point, considering who possesses most of the Russian media distributing Russian opinion programs. Either Putin actually shares the nationalistic Russian vision or it could be part of a spiel for popularity. In both cases, it's a headache, though I'd find the first option more worrisome than the last.
by Bjinse on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 08:51:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He does share the nationalistic vision. But he now shares the old experience that there is always a greater, more radical nationalist. And expressions of nationalism is the one thing he can't easily suppress.
by IM on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 08:55:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm no expert on the internal Russian dynamics of power, but my (external and limited) perception is that Putin, following his:

  1. landslide electoral victory
  2. appointment of his close ally Medvedev as Prime Minister
  3. successful Sochi games
  4. annexation of Crimea, and
  5. his crackdown on virtually all dissenting opposition voices in civil society

is in an almost unprecedentedly powerful position to do more or less as he pleases, without needing to Kowtow to nationalist or any other opinion.

That is partly why I posited the idea of a Russian EU rapprochement - Putin and Merkel are both in very powerful positions to negotiate, make concessions, and deliver on any agreement reached.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 09:03:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No doubt. But even in authoritarian system nationalism is useful servant but a dangerous master.

To not really accept the independence of the little russians is a common position and now Putin has fanned the flames of propaganda. Can he now just stop it?

by IM on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 09:16:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I beg to differ here.

Just because the Russian political system is characterized by a degree of authoritarianism, it does not follow that the leader is in absolute control.

It could be quite the opposite. There is such a thing as authoritarian pluralism, in which there is significant conflict between different factions within the ruling party.  That could be the case here.  It's very difficult to say, because there isn't a whole lot of transparency when it comes to the siloviki, the oligarchs, etc.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 06:47:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I make no such assumption. Only my point 5. related to authoritarianism directly. However in most political systems winning a landslide election, appointing a key ally as Prime Minister, running a successful Olympics and annexing a territory generally held (within Russia) to have been part of Russia in the first place is not exactly a recipe for unpopularity.  

That can all change of course, but again, in most countries, the most likely factors to effect such a dramatic change of fortune would be:

  1. A military defeat or perceived national humiliation
  2. A severe recession

The Ukraine joining NATO or routing the insurgents with huge loss of civilian life could constitute 1.  Sanctions could precipitate 2. In both instances, an agreement with the EU which involves, inter alia, tacit or explicit international recognition of the changed status of Crimea, a peaceful resolution of Ukraine crisis, Ukraine not joining HATO, Eastern Ukraine achieving a measure of autonomy, an end to sanctions and energy and trade deals with Ukraine and the EU would do much to prevent 2.

That is not to say that there aren't old school nationalist hardliners who pine after a greater Russia or even the return of the Soviet empire within the Russian establishment:-  Just to say Putin could be in a position to offer a different way forward should he choose to do so.  Equally Merkel could choose to shelter within the USA/NATO umbrella and not venture out into the rain of neo-con disapproval.  It depends on whether both leaders are minded to venture out beyond their comfort zones...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 07:39:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ManfromMiddletown:
There is such a thing as authoritarian pluralism, in which there is significant conflict between different factions within the ruling party.

Case in point: Nazi rule in Germany.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 9th, 2014 at 01:51:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(Putin) is in an almost unprecedentedly powerful position to do more or less as he pleases, without needing to Kowtow to nationalist or any other opinion.

Provided any such action will be seen by a majority of Russians as offering some beneficial effect in lifting what must be seen by most Russians as a renewed siege reminiscent of the Cold War or of reasserting some of the territorial claims remaining from the Soviet period. It is a tribute to the success of US neocons that such a large part of informed opinion now seems to assume that Russia HAS no interests that extend beyond their borders - as Dimitri Simes noted a few months back on the PBS News Hour.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 09:11:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet strangely, the annexation of Crimea went off without significant opposition from US-NATO and with little or no public protest in Western™ countries. Presumably there might all the same be some recognition that Russia has interests beyond its borders?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 09:19:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Strangely? You make it sound as though the US and the EU officially recognize that Crimea is part of Russia. Did I miss the news story? And Ukraine WAS a part of
Russia from the time of Catherine the Great - not just the Donbas. And then there is the military manufacturing facilities dating back to Soviet times and for which the production of those facilities has no market other than Russia and which remained integrated into Russia's economy until the US Neocons' recent triumph. I suppose the USA would have no objection should California, with its remaining aerospace manufacturers, be split off and controlled by lackeys of a hostile foreign power.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 09:53:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, strangely (with reference to your first comment, at least). Of course no one recognized Crimea as part of Russia, but they didn't kick up a shitstorm either (much less threaten military action). And public opinion was and is pretty inert.

Perhaps it's for all the reasons you give in the second part of your comment, (which I wasn't contesting at all), that Russia's interest is known and recognized.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 10:01:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia's interest is known and recognized.

Russia had and has very similar interests in the Donbas as in Crimea, and the Neocons were quite happy to undermine both last November, even if they could not rally sufficient support to oppose the Crimean fait accomplis. Just because Russia took the Crimea does not mean that its interests in the Donbas are any less. I am pretty certain that Putin would be very happy were the situation revert to that of October, 2013, when he had an elected government that was concerned about Russia's interests in Ukrainian MIC facilities. Instead, he is portrayed in The West by most governments and media as the Russian Bear, prepared to attack another helpless province or two. So just where is Russia's interests known and recognized beyond the borders of Russia? 'Known' is a very low bar, more like a target for the Neocons. I am just surprised to see that I have to even state the above on ET.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 04:19:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
After the November elections certain Ukranian plutocrats, aided by the USA, set in motion events that led to Yanokovich fleeing to exile - that is what I meant when referring to October and November 2013.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 04:23:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
Russia had and has very similar interests in the Donbas as in Crimea

Russia's interest in Crimea, past and present, is the naval facilities of Sebastopol, a warm-water port giving access to the Mediterranean.

This has been known since at least the Crimean War of the 1850s.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 04:29:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the Russian MIC (possibly obsolete) manufacturing facilities in Donbas are much less well known and recognized as a legitimate security and strategic concern. The argument has been around the civil rights of ethnic Russians and Russian language speakers in East Ukraine.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 06:20:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They were making components and systems that Russia was buying and Russia is the only market such goods have. So the MIC and the question of the job security of the workers comes to the fore. To date Russia has forborne the continuing deterioration of the separatist's position, which seems to be collapsing. If it does and Russia does not send in troops the only pretext for the sanctions will be that it was probably separatists who shot down the Malaysian airliner, yet certainly the neocons will give Putin no credit for restraint and instead crow about the effectiveness of their sanctions.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 11:28:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank God Malaysia is a non-aligned nation.

[Paper issue New Straits Times of August 6, 2014]

by Oui on Mon Aug 11th, 2014 at 02:48:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Ukrainian government surely has recordings of the conversations of the controllers with the aircraft - unless they have gone to some lengths not to have them. It was their air space and their air traffic controller in Kiev, officially at least.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 11th, 2014 at 01:46:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nothing specific, just a general description of topics belonging to the crash investigation. The DSB experts stayed in Kharkiv and never went to the crash site to get evidence first hand, an affidavit or a video recording. The joint Australian/Dutch recovery mission MH17 quit, imo to buy time. See my brief review op today's session with a parliamentary commission. Highly politicized, no concrete answers and no OSCE observers present to provide details of their daily reports of contact with the separatists. Some spokesperson from Frans Timmermans' department of Foreign Affairs participated.

Of course when the Dutch Safety Board experts left Ukraine, a delegation from the Pentagon was sent on a mission to Kiev. Read their goals ...

by Oui on Mon Aug 11th, 2014 at 02:56:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the Russian MIC (possibly obsolete) manufacturing facilities in Donbas are much less well known and recognized as a legitimate security and strategic concern.

They were certainly known to Zbigniew Brzezinski, Viktor Yanukovych, Vladimir Putin and any so called 'security expert. Brzezinski is on record as advocating depriving Russia of its former facilities in the Ukraine, without which Russia could not again become a truly great power.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 11th, 2014 at 09:36:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some movement conservatives might be very happy to lose dem libruls in California who are making it impossible for them to get a majority in the electoral college...:-) Probably should be part of yurp anyway

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 06:26:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is pretty easy. Putin manouvered himself into  corner and can't control the russian nationalism that he liked to whip up.

Take the sanctions against food imports from the EU: That is escalating but it is also a pay off to the russian nationalists: See I am striking back, no need for an invasion.

by IM on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 08:34:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And actions on the ground in Ukraine has effects on the opinion in Russia, and I don't think Putin controls the seperatists. They may listen to advice from Moscow a great dela more then the Syrian opposition forces the US has armed listens to Washington, but in the end their position is very different. A military defeat for the leading seperatists will typically mean getting shot, and often punishments against family. If they think they risk loosing the war, any desperate plot to drag in Mother Russia becomes high priority.

I don't think MH-17 was shot down for that, I suspect that it was a mistake. However, sanctions against Russia might not be bad for the seperatists.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 06:20:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IM:
a pay off to the russian nationalists: See I am striking back, no need for an invasion.

Twofer... it will make Russian farmers do better as food prices rise without cheap imports from abroad.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 01:19:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that rapprochement conflicts with the agendas of US Neocons and their counterparts in the UK and the EU. Others can address the counterparts in the UK and the EU, but in the USA this would include oil interests and the intellectual descendents of Leo Strauss, Milton Friedman and others loosely associated with the Mont Perlin Society, along with other foreign policy hawks, especially their wealthy underwriters. Theirs is a basically undemocratic agenda and Obama is, at a minimum, showing great deference to those pushing that agenda.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 08:08:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I get the bit about US neocons and their lackeys in the UK, but I would have thought it was overwhelmingly in the interests of the German economic elite to come to a deal with Russia which includes, but is not limited to, stabilizing the situation in Ukraine.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 09:06:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The german economic elite is actually fixated on China. and the numbers bear that out, at least up to a point.
by IM on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 09:25:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 09:39:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
they need the money, you know.
by IM on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 10:00:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ukraine ready to impose sanctions against any transit via its territory, including air flights and gas supplies to Europe, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Friday.

http://rt.com/business/178988-russia-ukraine-gas-transit/

by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 01:03:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 01:13:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The spice gas must flow.  (Not).
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 01:41:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Personally I would suffer uncontrollable schadenfreude were an out of control Ukraine to put a serious dent in West Europe's gas. It would not be Germany that would be the worst hit. The 'Made in USA' Frankenstein that is the current Ukrainian government would have  seriously run amok. Being willing to be a pawn has its costs. Hopefully, these would be significant borne by EU 'Atlanticist' leaders and not just by their hapless citizens. But, with the media we have, most might never imagine that the cutoff had anything to do with US actions in Ukraine.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 01:53:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That sounds like a good way to alienate all the people who matter to the determination of Ukraine's future.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 01:48:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OTOH, it's a fantastic excuse to take gas from the pipeline without paying for it.
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 02:30:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For as long as Russia keeps it flowing.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 02:58:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not in Russia's interest to become an unreliable supplier. Who knows, the EU might finally get serious about reducing dependence on Gazprom.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 9th, 2014 at 02:02:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If Ukraine restricts traffic rights and starts siphoning off gas, Russia can always blame Ukraine for the interruption. We've been here before, but this time it's for real.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 9th, 2014 at 08:26:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If Europe starts reducing its dependence on Russian gas, it doesn't make that much of a difference who is to blame.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sat Aug 9th, 2014 at 11:29:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If we follow M. Hudson's reading, the plan for Europe's energy independence is fracking in East Ukraine. The pipes are ready.

That should $tarve Russia for some 10 years.

by das monde on Mon Aug 11th, 2014 at 02:52:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ukraine has no interest either in pissing Europe off. The only interest they have is being able to go on siphoning off as the gas goes by.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 9th, 2014 at 12:14:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So neither Russia or Ukraine has interest in strangling the gas flow.

But local sides could consider it in their best interest to blow some pipelines in the hopes of bringing in more support from their backers to restore order. If you don't rule - or think that you soon won't rule - Ukraine then the interests of Ukraine is not the highest priority.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Aug 9th, 2014 at 04:47:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is indeed a risk.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 02:20:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And partly why "a stable Ukraine" may well require some suppression of local militias as part of an overall deal - whether by negotiation of military action.  If the latter, there is the ongoing danger of "terrorist sabotage" to the pipelines - all the more reason for the EU o reduce it's long term, strategic dependency of Russian gas.

Is anybody even talking/thinking about this in Germany?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 03:21:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
about what?
by IM on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 11:43:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reducing dependency on Russian gas ASAP

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 06:34:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany built Nord Stream not in order to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, bu in order to reduce the bargaining power of former-Soviet-bloc transit countries.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 11th, 2014 at 06:08:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is some discussion.

But until recently the position was: It worked with the SU, it will work with russia. The meddling countries in between Russia and Germany were seen as problem. So North Stream.

And Russia needs the money, like the SU.

by IM on Mon Aug 11th, 2014 at 06:36:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Blowing some pipelines" will definitely attract more attention than blowing MH17 out of the sky.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 11th, 2014 at 06:03:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm actually sort of surprised that the downed plane went over like it did. At least if the rebels did it there seems to be nothing out of the ordinary here. Get bombed, down the wrong plane. Be sad but alive.  How many friendly planes got downed in WW2? Certainly there should be an inquiry, but as war crimes go this seems like minor stuff. And if this really is such a major event for our leaders as opposed to merely an excuse for the more bellicose elite factions to whip the others into line then why didn't they pressure our oligarchs in Kiev to agree to a ceasefire so experts could look over the crash site without having to dodge bullets?
by generic on Tue Aug 12th, 2014 at 04:18:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If it was a false flag op, the last thing the Kiev Govt. would want is a lot of investigators crawling all over the place.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2014 at 02:07:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A huge % gets "lost" en route...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 03:14:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union's Common Security and Defense Policy: Intersecting Trajectories

NATO used to be the world's most formidable military alliance. But its original reason for existence, the Soviet Union, disintegrated years ago, and its dreams of being a world cop are withering in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the European Union's (EU) Common Security & Defense Policy (CSDP) has deployed 27 successful military/civil missions from Africa to Asia in the last 10 years. Through CSDP, Europeans are increasingly taking charge of managing their own foreign and security policy. NATO is no longer the sole and preeminent Euro-Atlantic security actor.

But watching NATO fade into irrelevance would be a mistake. It is a tried and true platform to harness the resources of North America and Europe.

    "Mr. Kashmeri asserts that NATO's survival depends on its willingness to accept its reduced role and let the EU handle the day-to-day security needs of Europe and its periphery. NATO's continued existence, Kashmeri maintains, is in a supporting capacity to CSDP and in its ability to craft a relationship with CSDP that will allow North America and Europe to act militarily together, should that ever become necessary."

It is time for NATO 2.0, a new version of NATO, to fit the realities of an ever more integrated Europe in the 21st century.

[PDF version of report]

Cross-posted from my diary - World In Turmoil: Role of Brzezinski and Albright, Our Democrats.

by Oui on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 10:25:40 AM EST
Too bad US Neocons have such disdain for findings contrary to their desires, even if formulated by The US Army War College, which wasn't so keen on invading Iraq either.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2014 at 02:00:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it turns out to have been East Ukrainian insurgents with or without direct Russian support, it surely weakens their legitimacy and case to have an autonomous homeland of their own within or apart from the Russian Federation.  If it turns out to have been a "false flag" Ukrainian Government operation, it undermines their legitimacy and points to a need to form some kind of Government of National unity excluding extreme nationalist elements.  

These are NOT equivalent case., First one is a tragedy and at maximum a crime, second is a terrorist act.

by kjr63 on Sat Aug 9th, 2014 at 10:09:12 AM EST
If Michael Hudson is not a loony yet:

by das monde on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 08:23:16 PM EST
Outstanding short description of what is happening at the economic level

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Aug 11th, 2014 at 06:50:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The economic is the base line answer to "Cui Bono?".
by das monde on Mon Aug 11th, 2014 at 10:24:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Saving Ukraine's Defense Industry

Russia was the third-largest buyer of Ukrainian defense-related products from 2009 to 2013 after China and Pakistan. There are, however, parts and services that Russia currently imports only from Ukraine. Russia's military depends on Motor Sich in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhia for helicopter engines and on the Russian company Antonov's plant in Kyiv for transport planes. Most importantly, the Russian army relies on the Southern Machine Building Plant Association, known as Yuzhmash, in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk, which designs, manufactures, and services rockets and missiles.

Some of the most important ties between the two countries' military industries relate to Russia's strategic nuclear forces. More than half of the components of Russia's ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles come from Ukraine.

by das monde on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 03:43:07 AM EST
Thanks for this.  I wasn't clear on the extent to which Russia relied on Ukrainian heavy industry exports - the dependency seems much more pronounced than I though.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 07:35:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Antonov is a Ukrainian state enterprise. Wikipedia says:
Antonov Design Bureau remained a state-owned company after Ukraine achieved its independence in 1991 and is since regarded as a strategic national asset. On 18 April 2014, the company issued a statement protesting the removal of its president Dmytro Kiva by the Ukranian government.

In the former USSR, aircraft design and manufacture have historically been carried out by separate organisations. Antonov aircraft are made at plants in Russia, Uzbekistan and Iran (the IrAn-140) as well as in Ukraine.
by Gag Halfrunt on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 03:16:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting to view small summit last weekend between France, Germany, Russia's Lavrov and Ukraine's Klimkin in Berlin. Perhaps a breakthrough ... or a reset from an earlier summit on July 2, 2014agree on cease-fire path ‒  before the event!

Additional reporting fron Germany by Deutsche Welle ...

German business leaders are pressuring the CSU/CDU and Angela Merkel to solve the Ukrainian crisis by diplomacy [what an ancient term]. There have been talks between FM of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia. There is a summit planned in Minsk which will be attended by Perochenko and Russia's president Putin. There should be a cease fire plan worked out by then.

Presidents of Russia and Ukraine are due to meet in the Belarusian capital Minsk on Tuesday

(Deutsche Welle) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected Saturday in Kyiv, where she will hold talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. It will be MerkeI's first trip to Ukraine since the start of the crisis. The visit falls on the 75th anniversary of the Hitler-Stalin pact.

 « click for more info
Symbolism for sure, but will Merkel's first visit to Kyiv in six years also bring substance?(Kyiv Post)

Merkel will use the visit to make clear that "Germany will never again sign a contract with another country in Europe to the detriment of a third," said Michael Gahler, a member of European Parliament from Merkel's Christian Democratic Union.

Merkel's Role

Still, much of the summits' outcomes will depend on the preparation of the German chancellor. Merkel will talk to Ukrainian representatives about what kind of EU support is needed to stabilize the Ukraine, but also lay out what the EU expects from the Ukrainian government. Merkel will have to curb Kyiv's desire for full membership in the EU and NATO. The EU is doing all they can to find a way out of the conflict - and that has nothing to do with a Western integration of the Ukraine. One danger of Merkel's visit is that Ukrainians expect too much to come of it.

by Oui on Fri Aug 22nd, 2014 at 11:28:39 PM EST
Latvia asks Merkel for greater NATO presence in Baltic | Deutsche Welle |

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged greater NATO solidarity with its Baltic members on a flying visit to Latvia. However, she again rejected the prospect of permanently establishing NATO bases in the region.

The German chancellor cited military maneuvers in the region as a possible extra step, but rejected the possibility of stationing troops in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia on a long-term basis.

[PHOTO: a quite anquished look on Chancellor Merkel's face.]

Merkel sets limits to Nato solidarity with Baltic states | EU Oberver |

She [Merkel] ruled out building permanent Nato bases in the region because, she noted, this would violate a 1997 Russia-Nato accord on troop deployments in Europe, however.

"We won't have a permanent stationing of combat troops but we will boost our participation in other ways ... we will do what it takes to guarantee that, should Latvia come into difficulties, Nato will be able to help straight away".

For her part, Straujuma said Russia's attack on Ukraine has "fundamentally changed the security environment in Europe ... trust has been lost".

She noted that she is "pleased that Ms. Merkel has affirmed that the words [Nato's Article V] are not just words on paper" and that the German leader "promised" to help Latvian dairy producers struck by Russia's import ban on EU food.

Merkel's remarks on Article V and the rapid reaction force echoed statements by Nato's military chief, Philip Breedlove, on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine's foreign minister, said on Monday that Merkel plans to visit Ukraine on 23 August in what he described as a "very interesting" trip.

Exercise Destined Glory 2005 tested NATO's multi-capable, Rapid Reaction Force's ability to respond  [cached page EUCOM]

by Oui on Sat Aug 23rd, 2014 at 03:04:13 AM EST


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