The level of anti-Putin, anti-Gazprom and generally anti-Russian hysteria
doing the rounds in today's papers has been an awesome sight to behold.
Franchetti quotes one Western diplomat as saying, "Putin claims to be in favour of democracy but he is far too close to the Belarussian regime. It makes the West very uneasy." Although it seem's Putin's lot to be damned if he does and damned if he doesn't, he can probably draw some satisfaction from knowing that such criticism means he's doing his job properly.
However, the looniness of Franchetti's 'western diplomat'
is matched and surpassed by Irwin 'The Yak'
Stelzer, who takes a break from his day job being the Mouth of Sauron
to warns us all about those goddam pesky Russkies!
"Ukraine is the West writ small" (like hell it is - but that's another story): and,
"Putin kept a straight face when he announced that his willingness to restore gas supplies proved that Russia was a reliable supplier. Never mind that it was on his orders that Gazprom cut off supplies to Ukraine, and by extension to Germany, France and other countries, despite contracts that run until 2009. ":
and he does not write one word about the loss of supply to nations other than Ukraine being caused by the fact of Ukrainian thefts
In the Sunday Telegraph, however, the owlish figure of George Trefgarne at least acknowledges both Russian sovereignty and the laws of the market before starting to slaver
"President Putin is perfectly entitled to demand that Ukraine pay market prices for Russian gas, as he did last week. But we should wonder at his ruthlessness.
By suddenly quadrupling the price of gas to a country traditionally seen by Moscow as little more than a satellite, he has, according to ING, swung Ukraine's current account from a 2 per cent to 3 per cent surplus to a deficit. Ukraine will now have to rely on foreign direct investment inflows to prop up its currency.
As for Putin, well, he looks more and more like the very embodiment of Machiavelli's Prince: a man who prefers to be feared than loved".
However, the piece de resistance
of the day's, actually the week's, anti-Putin nuttiness is a piece by Peter Hitchens
, the thinking man's Richard Littlejohn
, in today's 'Mail on Sunday'.
It is entitled 'Today Ukraine - tomorrow us', and begins,
"Natural gas is a much better weapon than an arsenal of H-bombs. You can actually use it. Nobody dies, no cities turn to vapour. Best of all, your victims cannot retaliate by doing the same to you.But people treat you with more respect when you remind them that you can, if you wish, shit down their industries and freeze them in their homes".
Or, as the Ukrainians discovered last week, you can agree to give up the 80% rebate you receive though the good offices of the people of another country, and preferably stop stealing the gas as well (a phenomenon in respect of which Hitchens did a Stelzer, forgetting to mention it at all) - in which event the gas comes back on quite quickly.
Keep an eye on Bulgaria.