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.

John McCain: Putin is responsible for the downing of the Malaysian jet

Senator McCain is right again:

 "I think he is responsible," McCain told CNN's Jake Tapper and National Journal's Ron Fournier at a "Politics on Tap" event in Washington. "I mean it wasn't Vladimir Putin that pushed the button to launch the missile, but the whole scenario, including the buildup of Russian troops across the border ... I think that he gave them material and the wherewithal to do it - or facilitated that - and facilitated a situation that was very possible for them to do it."--

"This tragedy would not have happened, if there had been peace on that land, or in any case, if military operations in southeastern Ukraine had not been renewed," Putin said in televised remarks. "And without a doubt the government of the territory on which it happened bears responsibility for this frightening tragedy."
But McCain asserted that the actions of pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine have been coordinated by the Russians, and Putin should be punished for their actions if they are found to be involved.

Yes, Vladimir Putin should of course be punished. He should be brought before the International Criminal Court in the Hague, which is the right place to deal with this kind of crimes.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Great news from Australia: The world´s most expensive carbon tax is gone!

Reason to celebrate:

As of today, Australia no longer has the most expensive “carbon” price in the world. The voters didn’t ask for a tax in 2010,  but it was forced on them in 2011. They rejected it wholeheartedly in 2013 but it still has taken months to start unwinding this completely pointless piece of symbolism which aimed to change the weather. The machinery of democracy may be slow, but this is a win for voters.
11:15am EST today: The Australian Senate passes the carbon tax repeal bill.
“Australia has become the first country in the world to abolish a price on carbon, with the Senate passing the Abbott government’s repeal bills 39 votes to 32.“ SMH
Now we need to turn off the tap to all the other green gravy rent-seekers who ignore the evidence.

Ukraine: Russian-backed Cossack militants shot down Malaysian plane

It now appears clear who shot down the Malaysian plane over Ukraine:

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was allegedly shot down by a group of Russian-backed Cossack militants near the village of Chornukhine, Luhansk Oblast, some 80 kilometers north-west of Donetsk, according to recordings of intercepted phone calls between Russian military intelligence officers and members of terrorist groups, released by the country’s security agency (SBU).

Garry Kasparov is right:

Garry Kasparov @Kasparov63  ·  7h
As always, the price of weakness goes up. Had the invasion & annexation of Crimea been resisted, some would have died, but not this.