1/05/2006

Keeping an Eye on Russia, cont - A Quick Round-Up

Although her views on immigration look a bit dodgy, Bronwen Maddox, the Foreign Editor of 'The Times', spoke out against the now apparently waning anti-Putin hysteria yesterday with a piece entitled 'Obnoxious, but gas war is not Putin's worst crime'.
She writes that "to label Russia the bully and Ukraine the victim is a caricature. It ignores the role of Ukraine, down many years, in skimming off gas profits. It ignores the many levers that Ukraine has over Russia, through the huge web of other trade that links them. And it ignores Russia’s right to charge the market price for its gas. It had given some notice, through price rises to other countries, that it was thinking of this, even if the abruptness of the demand was a surprise. "
She was joined by Carl Mortished, who published a piece in the same paper entitled 'Europe has left it too late to wrest back control from Russia over gas'. Although critical of Putin's negotiating tactics, he very fairly notes that, 'Ukrainians were enjoying very cheap gas, less than a quarter the price charged to most Europeans, a subsidy worth several billion dollars a year'; and that, 'European politicians are in a flap, noticing for the first time their utter dependence on Russian gas. Instead, they should reflect on their even greater dependence on pipelines — yesterday’s sudden drop in gas pressure in Austria, France, Germany and Hungary was due to theft by Ukrainians from transit pipes, not a Russian embargo'.
In the same vein, Neil Craig has taken a break from his current woes with the illiberal, undemocratic Scottish Liberal Democrats and posted an excellent piece on the anti-Putin hysteria entitled 'Ukraine, Russia & Gas'.
Neil puts the MSM's wholesale Russophobic agitprop into a nutshell, in a comment which should already be in the running for quote of the year -
"Let us all rally round & object to the Russians refusing to subsidise Ukrainian gas. Next thing Germany will be refusing to sell us their cars at a special price.
For years we have told them that they should all be good free marketists & that they should treat the Ukrainians as a fully independent people. When they do so we do everything short of threatening invasion".
Indeed. The Liberal Democrats, who in an act of Roman banality have permitted the appointment of a child as a local party branch chairman, don't appear to appreciate that it is strengthened by having veterans like Neil, who's been an activist for 36 years, inside rather than outside the tent. Clowns.
However, just when you thought it was safe to turn on your cooker, up pops a predictably anti-Putin 'Daily Telegraph' scribe to hammer home the insidious nature of the Russian bear. That newspaper was not founded during the Crimean War for nothing.
Yesterday, its Diplomatic Editor Anton 'An Aid to Migration' La Guardia published a post on his diploblog entitled, 'Gas row revives Cold War fears'.
One for the round file of history, by the looks of it...

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