Wednesday, March 5, 2014


The events in Ukraine are simultaneously misinterpreted and misunderstood.
-The proponents of the "soft power" alternative to the "hard power" antics of the past century look suddenly out of place in the current situation.
- Observers failed to take stock of Russia's pattern of behaviour, which historically was more marked be heavy handiness than by pragmatism.
Under Putin, a Russian conservative model became institutionalised, with the support of the orthodox church and the more conservative, nationalistic majority strands in the Russian society. Putin does not take his cue from Peter the Great. He is closer to the claustrophobic worldview of the last Romanov's.
The takeover of Crimea was to be expected, when the Maidan Square became the rallying place for the well intentioned ( and also for some less desirable elements) protestors who demanded for closer ties with the EU. 

Putin represents the frustrations which exist in the Russian Federation since the downfall of the Soviet Union.
Paradoxically may be Moscow's actions in its " close abroad " betray also a structural weakness. The Russian federation is in many ways a colossal disaster. The recourse to massive retaliation or arsenals cannot hide the fact that there is a lack of sophistication and" savoir faire ".
Voices in the West which announce the restarting of the cold war or a step towards "Finladisation" of Western Europe are nevertheless misguided. The Crimean move should be condemned, but at the same time, it should not lead to overreaction which will only play in Putin's favour. There is little that the West can do. What is under consideration - energy aid, training, technical advice, loan guarantee -amounts to little.

Rusia does not need an other alibi to advance beyond Crimea.
The EU and the US better be creative in finding ways and modalities to streamline their relationship on all fronts: trade, military, political. A united West will be more attractive than a domineering Russia. Obviously Moscow must be made accountable for its reckless action(s) but the price it must pay must be appropriately balanced. Crimea was Ukranian by accident (almost) and by name, but remained Russian by heart. If Putin stops there and keeps his distance from Yanukovych , proper sanctions can be considered.

Kerry's walk in Kiev will not impress the Russians. Neither will it placate the voices in the US Congress who ask for retaliation.
The EU looks pathetic. I am in Europe and can see the result of the heralded free movement of persons which only ended up opening the floodgates for an undesirable, costly immigration, running amok. The Common market was a success because the constituents were homogeneous. The EU is becoming some last resort option for opportunists and profiteers.
The United States better consider some Nixon move towards China, which must look at the Russian moves in disbelieve. The border between China and Russia is still in some type of limbo and Beijing might reconsider its options.

Russia is supposedly indispensable in Syria , Iran, Afghanistan. I fail to see any real qualitative added value in Minister Lavrov's moves, other than safeguarding Russia's own traditional interests, which is the rule of the game after all. Better leave the "reset" button in the attic.

The crisis began in Ukraine and it might not finish just here and now. CNN walks and talks will not suffice to guess what Putin"s intentions are.
Ukraine is not worth a Summit. It deserves also better than a photo op. Surgery might be needed fast, so that the willing might find an answer to their claim to be "European". There are so few genuine EU takers left that we should feel ashamed not to take in the believers, rather than to continue knitting the ugly quilt of an obese EU.
Meanwhile the talks of the willing look like political Marivaudage as long as the principal culprit doesn't participate or , for that matter, keeps his next intentions undercover. Let's remember the "Sudeten"prologue of very bad things to come in the 40's and be careful not to feed the "beast". Unfortunately individual states in the EU have also their specific parochial interests ( trade, energy inter alia) which marginalize moral standards. QUID NUEVO ?

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