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Reading Eurotrib, you'd believe that Brexit is the major issue Europe.

Fact is, except for Ireland -for very good reasons - and for the UK, where Brexit has sucked all the political oxygen, it has not been a prominent topic in continental Europe; only occasionally, like last March, in the run-up to the EU Council meeting.

As much as the toffs think themselves as the most important and influential people in Europe, the opinion is not reciprocated.

The main issues in Europe for the past three years are a weakening of international institutions, thanks to Trump, the rise of extreme right, who's now in power in Poland, Hungary, possibly Austria and Italy as well; for the eastern countries, the fear of Putin's Russia; the migration crisis in the Mediterranean, affecting mainly Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Italy. I would personally add the growing influence of organized crime in smaller countries like Cyprus, Malta or Slovakia.

In France in particular, the main issue has been the "gilets jaunes" winter of discontent and the Macron's regime continual push to impose their neo-lib reforms on the country. The region most impacted by Brexit is Northern France: local governments there have rung the alarm bell about the need to prepare for it (and they now claim to be ready).

by Bernard on Sun Sep 1st, 2019 at 10:08:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit is - of course - another example of the rise of the extreme right, and almost certainly also of the influence of Putin's Russia.

I can't imagine much that would do more damage to the extreme right across Europe, and also to Putin's plans, than a Remain outcome in the UK - not because this is a UK-specific issue, but because if Brexit succeeds the same template will be rolled out across Europe.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Sep 1st, 2019 at 11:29:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pray tell in what way Putin (as in Russia) would benefit from Brexit? Because I really can't see this.

Should Russia for some reason wanted weak EU, surely keeping UK inside would be the most efficient way to achieve this? If Russia wanted -- again, for some unknown reason -- to disintegrate EU, starting with a member Russia can help to overcome the necessary economic turmoils (say, Italy, Hungary etc) wouldn't have proven to be so counterproductive to the effort. Do you believe Russian policymakers are as separated from reality as the most extreme brexiters are.

It is true that with Britain removed EU will be much less Russophobic, but Poland (and Denmark and Sweden) still remains to blame Russia for everything.

Me, I would think a strong, but less trans-atlantic, EU would be most preferred by Russia. Much less hassle to deal with one block (that can calm down the most agressive, almost-racist, Russia-haters) that a hodge-podge of small nation-states with conflicting ambitions. Let EU deal with the national ambitions and economic turmoils and keep Europe stable and secure for Russia to prosper with.

So, for what purpose would Putin want Brexit?

by pelgus on Sun Sep 1st, 2019 at 02:11:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Question:"So, for what purpose would Putin want Brexit?"

Answer:"with Britain removed EU will be much less Russophobic, but Poland (and Denmark and Sweden) still remains to blame Russia for everything."

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Sep 1st, 2019 at 03:27:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The reality is that Putin does want Brexit. So there is no need to speculate if, because "if" is already established.

He has said as much a number of times, and the links between Leave, senior Tories, and the Russian oligarchy have been well-documented.

Why is more complex, and a full discussion would be book-length. But the template seems to be clear - Putin is supporting far-right movements across Europe, and aiming for regime change where possible. So there is no evidence at all that he's happy with peaceful coexistence. In fact the opposite is more likely.

Tusk hits back

Putin's disdain for liberalism and liberal democracy - which, coincidentally, seems to be shared by Brexiters and also by Trump and the US far-right - doesn't seem like a plausible position for someone interested in a peaceful and stable Europe.

In fact Putin is a textbook quasi-fascist reactionary who is making common cause with like-minded politicians in other countries. The far-right in the US is only too happy to support this, because when it comes to values the quasi-fascists in the US, the UK, Russia (and other countries) are largely interchangeable. The far-right in the UK has been on the same page for decades already.

So essentially we have a cultural/info war being used to destabilise a neighbouring superpower - partly because it's fun to try, partly because no one has done it on quite this scale before, and partly because it's incredibly cost-effective, far less obvious, and far less risky than overt Cold War II missile-waving.

I assume the plan is to roll out regime change across Europe, and Brexit is the proof-of-concept trial run. Russia gets its regime and value change, and a pliant neighbour less likely to impose sanctions and complain about human rights violations and military expansion, the US gets its "business opportunities", and the voters get screwed - all with more or less plausible (if not entirely convincing) deniability, and no actual shooting.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Sep 1st, 2019 at 05:34:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He has said as much a number of times

Right after the referendum he said that Brexit was not in Russia's interest. This was repeated by Russia's permanent representative to EU. Russia doesn't want disintegrated Europe. It can't afford it -- EU is Russia's biggest trading partner, regardless of sanctions. They need a trading block next to them, not a bunch of hostile, small nations.

So, the if is established only in the tabloid-level understanding of the issue. Looking behind the headlines to what was actually said, it's obvious that Russia has nothing to gain from Brexit, and that they know this.

the links between Leave, senior Tories, and the Russian oligarchy have been well-documented

Most of the Russian oligarchs Tories are cozy with are those who are opposed to Putin, and can't return to Russia (because they would have to pay long overdue taxes), so they live in London and fund anybody trying to remove Putin. Not every Russian "is close to Putin" or "belong to Putin's inner circle". When Soros meddles with politics in some country, do you automatically blame Trump or Orban? Or is it only Russian oligarchs that can't have their own agendas?

Putin is supporting far-right movements across Europe, and aiming for regime change where possible

Regime changes in Europe are extremely difficult, most countries have constitutions and working democracies. It's possible for right-wing parties to get to govermn, but that's not same as regime change. And Italy is giving an example how loonies don't last for long in government. At least not in countries where heads of state guard the constitution and democracy.

As for the right-wing support, I've seen a lot of talk about it, too. But very little actual evidence. I'm not saying I would be surprised if it turned out to be true (or maybe I would, Russians still seem to take fascism seriously) but so far I've only seen that National Front sought Russian loans trough Latvian middleman, they were not offered any money. And that Swedish(?) semi-neo-nazis webpage was funded by Ukrainian living in Berlin. Or something like that.

I'm not saying that you're wrong, but I'm taking that same approach as Craig Murray: some me the evidence. There's such an information war waged against Russia, that I won't take anything at face value anymore.

And here logic dictates that Russia benefits more from undisturbed EU than it gains from dissolving one. Now, the USA on the other hand...

by pelgus on Mon Sep 2nd, 2019 at 03:49:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great comment - the basis for a diary methinks! Would be good to have a more researched and nuanced diary on how Putin and Russian émigré Oligarchs view Brexit, UK and EU. My own sense is similar to yours, that a close working relationship between Russia and the EU makes sense, problems in Crimea and Ukraine notwithstanding. Indeed you could argue that the US stirring things up in Ukraine is calculated to prevent such a rapprochement.

But that still leaves some apparent Russian actions as discordant notes. Outliers and anomalies? I'm thinking of Salisbury and Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17). Miscalculations?

I'm expecting an October surprise US/Israeli attack on Iran to aid the Trump re-election effort. That should test the USA/EU/Russian relationships! John Bolton is mad enough to try anything.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 2nd, 2019 at 04:04:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Latest rumor has Bolton out of the loop.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Sep 2nd, 2019 at 05:29:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More likely too much of an interventionist whereas Trump is more of an isolationist. He was a strange choice for Nat Sec Advisor for that reason alone.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 2nd, 2019 at 08:51:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No one else would take it.  


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Sep 3rd, 2019 at 04:35:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17). Miscalculations?

Purely accidental ... Eastern Ukraine was a war zone for weeks/months. Airspace should have been shut down for commercial flights. Ukraine government and ambassadors of EU countries did meet early in July 2014 but failed to act. Russia did a very poor handling of an ugly mistake. The military taking down a passenger plane we have seen in a few instances before: US and Iranian passenger flight during the Reagan years, Ukraine and a Soviet airliner, Soviet Union intercepting a South Korean flight and the top secret downing of a passenger flight above the Mediterranean near Italy during NATO exercises.

Interesting developments with the new Ukrainian actor/president who replaced the chocolate olygarch ...

Ukraine authorities arrest man allegedly tied to shooting down MH17 | Kyiv Post |
Is This MH17 Suspect the Reason Ukraine-Russia Prisoner Swap Stalled?  

Related reading in Dutch News

by Oui on Mon Sep 2nd, 2019 at 10:16:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I'd go with "reckless negligence " rather than  "accident": they most likely ran an air defence unit in battlefield mode without adequate command and control in an area with civilian flights.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Sep 3rd, 2019 at 10:16:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Court of Appeals releases MH17 suspect Tsemakh

The Kyiv Court of Appeals has released Volodymyr Tsemakh, a fighter for the Russian proxy troops in eastern Ukraine and likely a key witness or suspect in the 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.

Despite facing terrorism charges in Ukraine, Tsemakh has been released without bail or any travel restrictions.  

MH17 crash: 'Key witness' released in Ukraine | BBC News |

Related reading ...

UNIAN: Dutch foreign minister says release of MH17 suspect `raises questions'
The Malaysian PM cast doubt on Russian culpability in the attack  
A message to the soldiers in the Ukraine, the politicians, the media, our friends and family

by Oui on Thu Sep 5th, 2019 at 09:36:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just an aside... The Putin loans to the FN are well-documented. It went like this, schematically :

  • Putin asks some banker friend to loan some millions to the FN for their election campaign
  • The loan is resold several times, and in the end transferred to a bad bank which subsequently goes bust
  • The FN never has to pay back the loan...

Problem for the FN : the French media got hold of the story, and they will have to pay back every penny.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Sep 3rd, 2019 at 08:51:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
if we're going to gloss competition between nations, wealth of &tc., mostly cos I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired of WWII delusions.

UK, MIT-OCE, gross value, 2017

Let's begin a SWOT reality check viz. RUSSIA with

  1. Crude Petroleum ($19.1B), Refined Petroleum
  2. Agriculture (lower right, "tan" color block)


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Sep 2nd, 2019 at 04:14:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would be interested in your (and Afew's) view of how France will respond to a no deal Brexit at an elite and popular level. Will UK exports be "discouraged" at Calais? Will "sectoral agreements" in the absence of a withdrawal deal be permitted? Will Johnson et al be indulged afterwards or shunned like the plague?

And similarly for Germany. They may onlt we awakening slowly to the prospect of a no deal Brexit, but once they get going, how will they respond, especially if a recession beckons?

My own sense is that the whole ball game will change after a n deal Brexit, but I am struggling to  get a sense for how much, and how quickly.  

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Sep 1st, 2019 at 12:20:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bernard on Sun Sep 1st, 2019 at 04:42:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you.

Sets my mind thinking the EU response to a No Deal will be a heavy sigh, a shrug, a brief moment of "Well this is a pain in the ass," and then deal with it.  IF Germany can be convinced to knock it off with the Austerity nonsense the EU will actually be better off without the UK.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Sep 1st, 2019 at 03:28:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'without the CURRENT UK'.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Sep 1st, 2019 at 03:51:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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