Tuesday, 1 April 2014

An Unexpected Change Of Direction....

With Former President Viktor Yushchenko
A lot of my spare time and energy is spent on my support for the Ukrainian people, who are going through worrying times. The removal of the despicable Yanukovych puppet-regime was always going to have dire repercussions. Corrupt regimes always struggle until the last, as they try to cover their tracks and get away with as much as they can. Yanukovych was actually quite lucky to get away with his life: more than 100 Ukrainian civilians who faced the security forces in the final days of the regime were not so lucky.

Nobody is in any doubt as to who pulled Yanukovych's strings. The Kremlin is very adept at pulling strings.

But to the surprise of many, a new apologist for Russia has emerged. And it all began during the LBC debate between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg.


The Kremlin is hostile to the concept of renewable energy.
The Kremlin's Trojan Horses in the EU oppose individually and collectively any proposal on energy policy - unbundling, for example -  as they are opposed to any common energy policy.
The Kremlin did not want either the proposed constitution or the Lisbon Treaty.
It was the Kremlin that first issued the infamous statement saying that "The EU has blood on its hands".

And Nigel Farage's policies are....? The first three are justifiable, of course, from the UKIP perspective, but the last one?

A Brussels journalist recently commented to me that Farage can be seen "tossing off on RT most weeks". RT, a Kremlin backed media platform has shown its true colours during the recent crisis, leading to at least two presenters criticising the station's policy live on air. Some amongst us are old enough to remember Наши кино - 'our cinema' - a Soviet era propaganda tv channel (actually, the last time I was in Belarus, it was still broadcasting there!) RT has become the modern equivilent of this, and will interview any western politician who will be critical to camera of his or her own country. ("Useful idiots" was the phrase that Stalin used.)

Farage says that he "respects" Putin.  "The way he played the whole Syria thing. Brilliant." he is reported as saying. Putin has, of course, been choreographing events in Syria for some time, as Russia seeks to pursue a Middle East policy symmetrical to that of the US. Bashar Al-Assad has been pleased to host a strong Russian presence in Syria, as this limits the military options potentially available to Israel. This is the regime, of course, that used chemical weapons against its own civilian population. Putin's intervention following the atrocity was to suggest that actually the regime was not to blame, but that 'rebels' may have been responsible.

On July 5th 2006, the Russian State Duma passed a law - actually a set of amendments to existing legislation - known as 153-FZ. I won't bore you all with the details, but one passage leapt out at me straight away. "The special assignment units of the Federal Security Service bodies may be used, by a decision of the of President of the Russian Federation, against the terrorists and (or) their bases located beyong the territory of the Russian Federation, in order to destroy a threat to the security of the Russian Federation." Within 153-FZ 'extremists' are considered to be 'terrorists'. The definition of such people is broadened within the legislation to include anybody making "libellous statements" about the president or his regime. Note the words "may be used, by a decision of the of President..."

In November 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a British citizen, was murdered in London. The British authorities have stated they have sufficient evidence to secure the conviction of Andrei Lugovoi, a former officer of the KGB's 9th Directorate. This was the organisation tasked with protecting senior government officials. Note again the words "may be used, by a decision of the of President..."

This is the man whose foreign policy Nigel Farage admires so much. This surprises me very much, based on my knowledge of him, and on conversations I may have had with him in the past.

But interestingly, it is not just the UKIP leader who is spouting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Russia has been courting the western far-right, and parties such as Jobbick and Golden Dawn are increasingly going in the same direction. Marine Le Pen is also no stranger to Moscow - her party wants the replace NATO and the EU with a group of independent nations - including Russia! Putin is using the far-right now in exactly the way his Soviet predecessors used the far-left. To justify his actions, and to support his intentions.

Incidentally, I happen to agree with the argument that says that the EU's approach to Ukraine is flawed, and has been since 2004. The failure of the Orange Revolution came about for a number of reasons, but whereas Putin feared being rembered as the man who lost Ukraine, that title instead went to Barosso. Now we see the results. But it is for the Ukrainian people to decide, through democratic means, their future. Western Ukrainians see themselves as European, and they now seek to assert that identity. However, in the context of the early 21st century, and with the demise of the Westphalian Order, it is hard to see how that desire can be fulfilled at this time other than by EU membership. Of course the EU will welcome them with open arms, but I think a little caution on all sides might be wise here.

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