Putin’s Last Laugh
The West waged an economic war against Russia. This failed. Russia’s retaliation threatens Europe to be crippled. Only fools would be shocked
Allister Heath writing in the Telegraph:
Britain is now in grave danger of falling into Vladimir Putin’s trap. To the delight of the siloviki men, his kamikaze economic war against the West will ultimately bring down his evil coterie of war crimes, but it’s beginning to cause immense and permanent damage to the Western way to live. We are at risk of ending up in calamitous poverty and civil disobedience. There will be a new socialist government next year. Nationalisations, income and price policies, punitive wealth taxes, and eventually an economic and financial collapse. The EU situation is worse .
He believes that Britain had the right to support Ukraine and that it must continue to do so. It will cost. More:
Cheap and plentiful energy is essential to our consumerist societies. The scale and extent of this developing disaster cannot be underestimated. Household energy and vehicle fuel costs will jump from 4.5 per cent of household spending in early 2021 to some 13.4 per cent by April next year, much higher than at any time during the past 50 years, including the 1970s, according to Carbon Brief. Households may face a rise in energy costs of PS167 billion, or 7 per cent of GDP, taking total expenditure to PS231 billion, more than government spending on health, and that is before the hit to business is accounted for. Consumers alone are experiencing a rise in energy costs that exceeds the total defence and education budgets.
Why, oh why, did Britain and Europe allow themselves to become Putin’s hostages?
Wait … what?! As Gavin Ashenden puts it:
Except that it wasn’t Putin’s trap, it was NATO & the EU trapping itself with globalist expansion. It’s much more easy to blame Putin.
If you haven’t done so yet, now is the time to read Christopher Caldwell’s excellent essay, “Why Are We In Ukraine? “ Excerpt:
Russia was never without an excuse to meddle in Ukraine. Ukrainians are an old people. They are a very ancient people, much like the Kurds. For most of their history they have not been able to create a nation-state. Ukraine was one of the Soviet socialist republics under Communism. It was an administrative statehood and not real sovereignty. It was still better than the 10 years after Communism collapsed. Living standards plummeted by 60%. The level of corruption rose to a height not seen elsewhere in Europe.
The cultural boundaries between Russia and Ukraine were always blurred. They are both arch-foes and fraternal peoples. It seems that they are the ones for whom the term “frenemy”, was first used. Many parts of Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula with its port and centuries-old Russian naval bases and the Donbass, feel more Russian-speaking than Ukrainians. In 1944 Stalin complicated the situation (or, by his lights, simplified it) when he deported the Muslim Tatars who had been resident there, primarily in Crimea, for centuries. Russian has for generations been the lingua franca of business and culture in Ukraine–although its public use has been suppressed since 2014. That was a pivot year. Ukrainian diplomats were negotiating an agreement with the European Union to create closer trade relations. Russia beat the E.U. with its own deal, which included $15 billion in incentives for Ukraine. It was signed by President Viktor Yanukovych. The United States supported protests in Kiev’s Maidan square and other cities throughout the country. By then the U.S. had spent $5 billion to influence Ukraine’s politics, according to a 2013 speech by State Department official Victoria Nuland. Russia saw this as funding subversion and rebellion. Yanukovych’s corrupt government is like every other Ukrainian government after the Cold War. It was elected legally, which is a departure from many other governments. Yanukovych fled Ukraine after protesters were shot near Kiev’s Maidan. The United States was instrumental in establishing a new government.
Meddling in Russia’s vital interests on Russia’s doorstep proved to be far more hazardous than talking about democracy. Russia invaded the Crimean pro-Russian and Russophone region. The military operation did not result in any deaths. “Took over” may be better. Whether the Russian takeover was a reaction to American crowding or an unprovoked invasion, one thing was clear: In Russia’s view, Ukraine’s potential delivery of Crimea to NATO was a more serious threat to its survival in 2014 than–to take an example–Islamic terrorism had been to America’s in 2001 or 2003. Understanding that Russia would respond accordingly to any attempt to wrest it back, Russia’s European and Black Sea neighbors tended thenceforth to treat Crimea as a de facto part of Russia. The United States did, in most cases, follow their lead. Russia and Ukraine signed the Minsk agreements to ensure a certain degree of political and linguistic autonomy in culturally Russian Donbass. (Russia claims the violation of these accords as a casus belli. )
Anyone who watched the first Trump impeachment in 2019 will know that U.S. Ukraine policy–and the personnel carrying it out–did not change, in its essence, between the Obama and Trump administrations. Through steady deliveries of weaponry and military know-how, the failed state of 2014, defended by a ramshackle collection of hooligans and oligarch-sponsored militias, was transformed by 2021 into the third-largest army in Europe, fully interoperable with that of the United States. With a quarter million men in arms, Ukraine was only outmatched by Russia and Turkey. Trump’s departure was the real catastrophe. In the first weeks of 2021, Joe Biden committed his administration to a considerably more aggressive Ukraine policy. Last November 10, Blinken signed a “strategic partnership” that not only reasserted the Bush Administration’s commitment to admit Ukraine into NATO, but also reopened contested sovereignty questions, including that of strategically vital, culturally Russian Crimea.
The Mearsheimer account culminates with an implicit question: What did you think Russia would do?
Similarly, when Western leaders responded to Putin’s invasion with an open attempt to destroy the Russian economy — I quoted some of the statements by EU figures here yesterday — what did they think Russia would do? Amazingly, seemingly intelligent West Europeans believe that Russia is allowing the West to destabilize its economy by invading Ukraine illegally and morally.
Viktor Orban stated from the start of the conflict that the West should pursue peace because it can’t afford to engage in an energy war. “Putin symp!” They all shouted. Viktor Orban had the right idea.
I don’t remember what the situation was in America this spring or summer. However, I have been living in Europe almost for the entire duration of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. However, I do recall that there was widespread opposition to all things Russian in Europe. Handbills were posted around Vienna in June, stating that one could not love Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky while also loving Putin. They called for an end to all Russian cultural products. This madness was not seen during the Cold War when Russia was under an immoral totalitarian regime worse than that of Putin (which is already bad). Everything Russian was hysterically denounced, even those who didn’t support the war.
How can it be surprising that Russia uses its energy weapon against us? We in the West have waged an economic war against Russia ever since the invasion. This includes sending intelligence and weapons to Ukraine. Although you may believe that economic war is morally right, you cannot say Russia doesn’t have the right to act as it does now. You also cannot fool yourself into believing that this wasn’t inevitable.
If Viktor Orban saw this happening back in February when war began, then why wouldn’t any other European leader see it? Washington couldn’t see this coming back in February, when the war began.
To be clear: none of this excuses Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The loathing of Putin and Russia over this invasion, though, made it impossible for very many people in positions of leadership to think clearly about what was at stake in this conflict. They believed that Russia was not invulnerable and the West could act as it pleased with Russia.
British and Europeans don’t get why their country is in such a mess. They are likely to not be up for hearing that they object to Putin’s symps that love dictatorship.
I wish Allister Heath went to Ireland to visit the coffee shop and tell its owner why it is important to represent Ukraine.
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Here, via an Irish newspaper, is a photo of Poppyfields Cafe. It will be closing very soon, so take a look. Perhaps Geraldine Dolan could tweet “Slava Ukraini”, from the unemployment line, this winter.