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Conflict Prevention Resources


Much is made of conflict prevention so this Parliamentary answer from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office provides good information on some of the allocated resources;

Together with my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for International Development and the Secretary of State for Defence, I wish to update the House about our plans for funding conflict prevention, stabilisation and peacekeeping activities through the conflict resources settlement for the financial year 2014-15. Our written ministerial statement of 13 June 2013, Hansard , column 14WS, provided details of indicative planned allocations for financial year 2014-15, covering both the conflict pool and the peacekeeping budget.

This statement updates the House on adjustments made to these planned allocations.

We have now reviewed conflict pool allocations for financial year 2014-15. This funding will continue to be spent within the strategic direction set by the building stability overseas strategy (BSOS) and remains an important priority for the Government. It is central to our national interests to enhance stability by supporting the development of societies with strong and legitimate institutions which can manage tensions peacefully.

The size of the overall settlement increases to £683 million in financial year 2014-15, with the peacekeeping budget continuing to have first call on available resources. Taking into account trends in peacekeeping demands and the recent significant savings we secured at the UN, in particular in the tri-annual negotiations on the scale of contributions, £444 million has been set aside for the peacekeeping budget, comprising £70 million of official development assistance (ODA) drawn from the conflict pool and £374 million non-ODA funding from the Treasury reserve. We have therefore been able to allocate £239 million to the conflict pool. This represents an increase of £10 million over last year’s allocation.

able 1: SR10 Total Conflict Resources (£ million)
Year Financial Year 2011-12 Financial Year 2012-13 Financial Year 2013-14 Financial Year 2014-15
Total allocation 630 644 664 683
Peacekeeping agreed claim on Treasury 374 374 374 374
Peacekeeping ODA top up from pool 76 61 61 70
Conflict pool 180 209 229 239

The table below shows confirmed conflict pool allocations for individual programmes for financial year 2014-15 with allocations for financial year 2013-14 by comparison. These allocations may change during the course of 2014-15 to reflect changing priorities or to enable the Government to respond more effectively to new cases of conflict and instability.

Table 2: Conflict Pool Allocations
Programme Financial Year 2013-14 Allocation(£m) Financial Year Allocation 2014-15 (£m)
Afghanistan 45 26.8
Africa 51.5 53.7
Middle East and North Africa (MENA) 39 60*
South Asia 20 20.5
Strengthening Alliances and Partnerships (SAP) 10 12
Wider Europe 36 35.2
Stabilisation Unit 10.8 10.8
Early Action Facility (EAF) 20 20*
TOTAL 232.3** 239
*£5 million has been pre-committed from the £20 million EAF to the MENA programme ** Includes over commitment of available resources by £3.3 million

The middle east and north Africa programme (MENA) will be increased substantially to provide additional resources for the crises in Syria and Libya as well as their regional consequences. We will continue our commitments to Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia and Iraq. The MENA programme is now the largest in the conflict pool, reflecting the importance of improved stability in the region to UK national interests.

There will also be an increased allocation for the Africa programme. This reflects our continued commitment to security, stabilisation and the political process in Somalia, increased resources for additional work in Nigeria and in the Sahel region, and continuing commitments in north and South Sudan, Zimbabwe, east and central Africa, and with the African Union.

Funding for Afghanistan remains significant but continues on a downward trend reflecting the planned conclusion of conflict pool-funded stabilisation activities in Helmand and other changes in the UK’s approach ahead of transition later this year. Of note, under the conflict, stability and security fund (CSSF), which will replace the conflict resources settlement in financial year 2015-16, we will provide £70 million per annum to support development of the Afghan national security forces (ANSF).

The south Asia programme will continue to focus on Pakistan, including work with civil society and in the border areas with Afghanistan. The programme will continue other regional commitments including on relations between India and Pakistan and in Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

The wider Europe programme will continue to cover the costs of UK personnel in the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP), our commitments to EU peacekeeping and security sector reform missions in the western Balkans, and civil society work in central Asia and the Caucasus.

The thematic strengthening alliances and partnerships programme will receive an increased allocation to support UN work on peacekeeping and protection issues, for defence leadership and for activity in support of the ending sexual violence initiative (ESVI).

The conflict pool will continue to provide funding for the tri-departmental stabilisation unit, which plays an active role in supporting conflict pool delivery.

£20 million of conflict pool funding will again be provided for an early action facility (EAF) to respond to unforeseen demands and new opportunities. In financial year 2013-14 the EAF was used for work in Syria and Lebanon, Central African Republic and Ukraine. For financial year 2014-15 we are pre-committing £5 million of funding to the MENA programme to help avoid the disruption of planned programming in other regions.

Financial year 2014-15 will be the final year of the tri-departmental conflict pool in its current form. An evaluation of the conflict pool’s impact during the course of this spending review period will be carried out at the end of financial year 2014-15 and will be communicated to the House. A new £1 billion conflict, stability and security fund (CSSF) will be established in financial year 2015-16 and will build on the existing conflict pool to help prevent conflict and tackle threats to UK interests arising from instability overseas. The CSSF will be governed by the National Security Council, with a more strategic cross-government approach that will draw on the most effective combination of defence, diplomacy, development assistance, security and intelligence capabilities. These are all at the heart of the Prime Minister’s “golden thread” theory of development and can play a vital role in tacking the complex causes and impacts of conflict and instability, as set out in the national security strategy.

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85 Responses

  1. Depending on how Putin reacts to the MAS airliner shootdown, we may need to allocate more resources to Ukraine, Poland & the Baltic States.

  2. Putin won’t want to dig the hole any deeper. Actually I expect the next “losses” (in propaganda terms) will be on the West’s side. I expect hard questions to be asked of the US with respect to how much they knew about SAM systems in the eastern Ukraine, that the Kiev government will perhaps try to make to much capital out of it all and show themselves not to be as wholesome as we (some of us) are being lead to believe, we will hear a lot from RT about US drone attacks (2000 casualties at least), and I don’t expect the conspiracy theory merchants to slow down any as this “sh*t storm” can easily be seen as a little too orchestrated. I can’t see their is any need for extra anything in Central Europe; if there is let the US and Germany pay it is their collective fluster cuck.

  3. X I am not so optimistic. I think Putin does not relations with the West to get any worse, but he has stirred up such rabid nationalistic forces, that he might find it hard to backtrack.

  4. That nationalism was already present. Further you have to realise that Berlin and Washington had been stirring things up as well. The difference between Putin and the latter pair is that Putin understands those nationalistic forces. Putin’s aim is to destabilise Ukraine, the Russians can’t take it and hold it so spoiling is the best option probably with a long term hope that Kiev will jettison the region instead of having to bear the cost of policing it. The trouble is those regions are where the money is made and though times are tough you don’t want to be disposing of assets. EU membership would probably lead to a “cash and close” scenario anyway just as happened in the West and it would be east of Ukraine that would bare the brunt. What I find amusing is that 60% of Ukraine exports go east yet they want to jump ship to a shrinking market; Russia is just a good a route to China as the EU, actually probably it is a better route. Why I find it amusing is that UK trade with the EU is at 50% and shrinking, yet we would be according to Europhiles be mad to give it up. A bit of inconsistency there I think. Of course in a true free market we would all trade with whom we wished to trade. Imaginary lines across geography cause trouble.

  5. Putin said, at the end of the BRICS summit, that he sees the most important goal of the membership to be promoting the”rule of law”
    – a quick poll of the other members now, a few days later?

  6. X Berlin & Washington stirring? More like blundering about. I think on one of these threads months ago, I said that once the Sochi Olympics were over, then Putin would act. Sadly, I was right. Now the West is stuck with either upping the sanctions or looking hopelessly weak, while Putin knows that economically he needs to de-escalate, he too may fear looking weak to his uber nationalists. Beginning to feel like the long Summer of 1914 again.

  7. Who needs to “deescalate”? After all, “everyone” knows that the rebels are “non-state actors” that have no ties with Russia so how is Russia going to tell them what to do?

    Unless they catch Russian soldiers in the act, it’s going to be hard to hold Putin responsible for anything. For all we know, there actually may not be any Russian soldiers in that area any more, the local rebels are more than enough to keep things at a boil, and you don’t need control to cause trouble.

  8. @ Observer

    It is not so much a matter of de escalation as being forced into an official line. If the rebels did this and it looks increasingly likely they did then there will be a massive outcry to take action to ensure they cannot repeat the performance from a world wide audience. That would very likely involve support for Ukrainian ops from a variety of sources and at that point Putin either “folds or goes all in”.

  9. Hmm.. you may have a point there. If Putin was forced to make a declaration that he does not support the rebels or that he has nothing to do with them, it’s going to make it harder for him to absorb the border territories that do manage to break free later on.

  10. Reviewing all the open source reports on the MAL and the two other aircraft shoot down this week, it would seem that there is a developing ground swell of opinion that, 1) the Russians have just given an advanced SAM and supported with training, to a non state actor.2) Russian national forces have been shooting down aircraft over Ukraine airspace.

    It is very difficult to now hide or ignore the fact that Russia is waging an undeclared hot war against a European democratic nation state.

    This is a significant question for the western liberal democracies, what to do and what will be the outcome of any actions. My worry is that we( if the events are not masterfully handled by all sides ) are slipping into a scenario that may inevitably lead to significant European conflict involving nuclear powers or a weakening of NATO to the point it becomes defunct.

    Some possible actions I could see happening:

    1) Sactions are tightened, including financial services, engery, and millitary sales. This would have a big impact on Europe as well as Russia.
    2) the forward basing of troops into ex Warsaw Pact NATO members.
    3) An expansion of NATO membership
    4) Un peace keepers in ukraine ( unlikely Russia would agree)
    5) international intervention in ukraine ( very unlikely )

    I would think any of these ( apart from four) would increase tension.

    NATO could just do nothing, but would this be the nail in the coffin for NATO and encourage Russia to be more agressive towards NATO members and non NATO members.

  11. Well the limited existing sanctions have caused the value of the Rouble & the Russian stock market to fall. There has been capital flight from Russia. Putin knows that he needs to normalise relations with the West, but he has painted himself into a corner.
    Meanwhile the Western response has been feeble & disorganised. Obama gives the impression that he has already left office. Merkel is trying to face several different directions at once & is making herself giddy.
    While I think full blown war is unlikely, I would not be surprised if we end up back in a mini-cold war & whoever is Prime Minister next year may have to meet a new NATO target of say 2.5% GDP defence spending. Tough for us & the rest of Europe.
    I suspect Britain may have to think about a permanent military base in Poland.

  12. @ John Hartley

    Rarely in IR, as in human relations, is there a pure aggressor or a pure victim, there are shades of grey.

    Putin “acting” started events did it? No something happened before didn’t it?

    Actually I was surprised by the speed the Russians moved. I posted here that I though Tim Marshall, Sky’s foreign correspondent, was being a bit sensationalist!

    The Germans and the USA did a lot to push events in Kiev for their own ends. That both capitals are surprised that Russia pushed backed doesn’t fill me with too much confidence.

    In a way this border war between Europe (whoever they are) and Russia is a proxy for a US / China.

  13. Russia is frightened. She’s been frightened since 1812 and before. The Ukraine one way or the other is another fissure in the whole edifice and Russia doesn’t want it to drift away.

    There’s no way Putin is happy about this. He has a tightrope to walk, a Ukraine too unstable is only going to weaken him. I suspect he has lost control. He is now isolated.

    Russia wants to uphold the law because the law broadly supports the status quo or at least does not technically suffer it to be undermined by other nation states. Russia’s worst nightmare is the rest of the world doing what it wants and feathering it’s nest.

  14. X

    I’m curious to know what the Germans/US did to push events in Kyiv ? We have a business in Ukraine and quite a few of our local staff were at EuroMaidan nightly. There is no doubt that many tried to use that protest for their own ends (including the far right), but at its core the protest was about changing Ukraine for the better.

    The protest was started by Yanukovych rejecting the EU agreement (which was pretty limited in scope) in return for Roubles. Looking towards the EU and NATO had been Ukraine’s official policy pretty much independence for the USSR.

  15. Jonathan

    personal opinion is that both US and EU sanctions will be tightened further quite soon (although there are too many financial implications for the EU to go that far short of it becoming obvious that Russian troops were in Ukraine. I’m not convinced this is a game changer, but it will certainly harden opinion in the more hawkish elements of the EU).


    I’m not sure its clear what Putin’s aim in SE Ukraine was, but it appears to have been to coerce the Kyiv government back into Russian sphere and disrupt the move towards the west. Right now this looks likes its failed and even if Ukraine is partitioned, western Ukraine will move to the westwards politically. I suspect Putin didnt think the Kyiv government would be able to get its act together (and maybe they thought there was more on the ground support for succession than there actually was) and has been forced to prop up the separatists to keep this strategy going, once Kyiv started to use heavy weapons. They are also banking on the EU not being able to agree to be tough enough to enforce sanctions to really hurt the political elite.

  16. Do you mean stuff like the CDU paying students to go to protest in Kiev and covering epxense? The BND being active on the ground? Or the $5 billion the US to “aid” democracy? The west of Ukraine may have been looking to Western Europe since the collapse of the USSR that is understandable as they ended up on the wrong side of the border. But where do the majority of Ukrainian exports go and which parts of the Ukraine support those exports? Not saying the Russians are angels or guilt free, but the idea that the protests weren’t stoked by the West for various ends is to bit, well naive. Or that the Kiev government is free from influence of extreme Ukrainian nationalists. If I was an educated Ukrainian professional I think I would be pushing for my country to become part of the EU so I could get out; it is those people just as here who make up the political classes that drive agendas.. I feel sorry for the ordinary Ukrainians, whatever their ethnicity or cultural background who probably just want to be left alone.

  17. sure (!) the German secret police and CIA were paying from all the people and coaches to go from Lviv to Kyiv every day plus all the guys from Kyiv who turned up. Do you not here that the anti-EU demonstrators were being payed as well (strange there were fewer of them). There are also plenty of rumours (early on) of the separatists being paid $500 per day by pro-Yanukovych oligarchs as well. Since the $5 billion is apparently public domain and was spent over 10 years I have little doubt most of it was spent the stuff that we decry the DFID budget for being wasted on. If you believe Putin, similar sums of money are being spent in Russia as well – hence the crack down on non-governmental players a couple of years ago.

    What piece of this is actually true and what is black propaganda I doubt we’ll ever know. But I would take it all with a very large pinch of salt. For my taste, too much of your post is coloured by Russian propaganda. In Russian media, the Kyiv government is referred to as the Junta. So much for a National majority vote Presidential election…

    Whatever you think about the causes, Russia had no right to seize Crimea using its troops (which Putin had admitted to) and would be up in arms if Germany tried to reclaim Kaliningrad (or Konigsberg as it used to be known, when it was part of Prussia).

  18. @ Nick

    As I said never did I say I Russians were not playing silly beggars. It is this attitude that the West does no wrong that annoys. Us gov’? We did nuffin’? Really? a This $5 billion may be open just as the EU budgets are in the open too. There are broader issues at play. States don’t become involved out of a sense of philanthropy. Whether it is seeking to dominate the “World Island”, “Encircling China”, expanding the reach of the EU for markets, or whatever.

    I am very surprised by the sudden rise in the levels of competency within the Ukrainian armed forces or I am? No. not really.

  19. X

    The Russians refer to Belarus, Ukraine, etc as “near abroad” meaning it’s there’s to do with as they please. Worse it has a minority of Russian descents and as Putin has stated – once a place has ethnic Russian’s living there its fair game so far as Russia is concerned. Its been that way for at least 300 hundred years whether Tsarist, Communist and Oligarchist run the place. 18th century spheres of interest etc. with an ethnic twist. Nothing says we have to buy into this and leave Russia to do as it pleases. After all, where does the boundary of “near abroad” lie ? Berlin ?

    I’m not sure we bought into it in the 19th Century and I don’t see any reason why we should now. The people of Ukraine and elsewhere are free to do as they wish. I don’t have any problem using political support and some cash to help bolster democracy and basic human rights. If this runs counter to a Russian mind set then so be it. Regardless of what the Russians might prefer to think, NATO isnt there enemy, NATO isn’t going to invade Russia. Eastern Europe and the Baltic States are in NATO because of the inherent Russian threat to their autonomy. This is real and is growing right now. In Russia, has there ever been a time when the country even had a semblance of democracy that created some roots ?

    If we aren’t collectively going to support, even to the small extent that we actually have in the Ukraine, anti-authoritarian, anti-freedom elements in countries like Ukraine, we might as well drop any pretensions we have and leave Russia and China to do as they please, carving up the world to suit themselves. Didn’t we already learn that lesson ? This doesn’t mean a new cold war with either party; there is much to be said for constructive engagement. That’s not the same as acting like the 3 wise monkeys either.

    Yes, we have an economic interest – global free trade does enrich everyone (although it creates and enriches elites far too much the way its currently managed), but there is no significant economic interest in Ukraine for us.

  20. “In Russia, has there ever been a time when the country even had a semblance of democracy”
    – between the two revolutions
    – left out the “roots” bit from your question, to keep the conversation going (I am sorry to say that there are a lot of contradictions in what you say, but then again we have several trained historians here contributing)

  21. Before the Soviet Union the buffer states used to be Poland and Finland.

    Germany needs an expansion to reduce balance of her trades surplus within the EU. There was a school of thought in the EU that Poland and the last entrants into the club should be the last. Given this crisis there will probably moves to re-evaluate such thinking with a view to bringing the Ukraine inside Never let a crisis go to waste……

  22. ACC

    Feel free to point out the contradictions. I’m never been afraid to agree when I’m factually wrong and I’ll be the first to say that have a general polemic rant is always a mistake :).

    If X is pissed by the “we did nothing camp” I’m pissed by the its in the Russian (or Chinese) sphere of influence, we should keep out just because that’s what they want. The mind set that China exhibits over the South China Sea and Russia over its near abroad seems very similar and doesn’t take the opinions of any one else into account.

    I recall post 1917 there was some democracy, at least around Moscow, with an elected government, but the civil war put pay to that. I guess the Yeltsin era was somewhat democratic as well. Blips in a long trend of history though.

  23. X

    I have many problems with the Eurozone economic mgt. Its certainly appears true that gGrmany exports benefit from lower currency forex rate that Germany alone might have. However, whatever way you look at it, it seems true that Germany has run the best economic policy in Europe in the last 50 years or so. I wouldnt have bet against Germany doing well with a higher exchange rate anyway.

    The present EU is unmanageable, but I think its clear that Serbia will join eventually. Given long enough its possible Ukraine will also. The political problem right now is that we can’t collectively decide just how the EU should be governed or whether its desirable that the entire EU have a single currency let alone what sort of political oversight does the Eurozone need to be effective. i don’t think the present situation will last. I rather expect a core federalish Eurozone and a larger free trade zone with elements of common decision making with the Eurozone to be the final outcome.

    The Russian empire expanded westwards throughout its existence. The land area we call Ukraine was carved up in about 1800 with the east becoming Russian controlled (and the west joining later). Poland was carved up at much the same time wasn’t it ? Neither was covered in any History I studied at school.

  24. Don’t want to play the role of a trained historian (when we have some, who will no doubt contribute), but for starters:
    – I have a lot of sympathy with x’s position that there were a lot of “shit stirrers” with a hand in the events preceding “the crisis proper” who did not expect the reaction they got (obviously, state departments and their extended arms don’t employ historians anymore… used to be a calling card to a senior positions (not talking about kremlinologists, who were a specialised and a passing species, enjoying their hour in the sun)
    – however, x does not bother with sources or quotes, and I am not willing to go into something that will degenerate into a generalised “Russia bashing”
    – a good one though, from a Russian whose intellect is difficult to deny (G Kasparov): “Putin is[ ] a revanchist KGB [ ]trying to build a poor man’s USSR to replace the loss of the original he mourns so much.”

    I thought that your opening gambit used hyperbole, and you pretty much said so in your response.
    – not going into the China thing, and agree with you about South China Sea “bully boy” tactics, but…
    – again, would invite you/ the historians to revisit what China sees as a “blip”,- to use a favourite term – in 6000 years of history (the years from Opium Wars to Ussuri/ Vietnam Worder Wars, so how many per cent of the accounted for period would they say “not having been ascendant” to avoid the “King of the Castle” expression?

  25. ACC

    I don’t know if there is anyone here, who can tie together the various individual threads of Putin’s view of the world into a coherent picture. I know I can’t and I’m not clear how much is meant for real and how much is playing to an internal political narrative (and sometimes it seems in western media as a whole can’t do this either).

    I certainly detect a regret that the Yeltsin era happened and what was still, in essence, the Russian Empire broke up and Russia was impoverished and became largely politically irrelevant in a short period. I do think they think this was our (mostly US ?) fault and was deliberately planned humiliation. I’m not sure that Putin wants the empire back as it was, but he certainly wants Russia to be a major player on the world stage. In his speeches he certainly seems to give himself permission to control this sphere of interest along what are his view of Russia’s own interest.

    Judging by the Russian guys I work alongside, there does seem to be a strong sympathy for ethnic Russians living in this near abroad and that there is a degree of feeling that Russian dominated places like Crimea do belong inside mother Russia not outside. I think it’s not surprising that these new post-Empire countries have turned away from their shared Russian heritage as they attempt to form their own independent path. Perhaps this is how (we) English might feel if Scotland and Wales became independent and turned their backs on us.

    To give you an example, I was surprised by just how much the anti-Russian (anti-jewish) view of the Right Sector guy’s played on my Russian colleagues view of Euromaidan, even though it was clear that they were a very minority voice in the protest. Putin certainly used this feeling, to denigrate what was a populist movement and turn it into a fascist take over of Ukraine, which is a propaganda theme which continues.

    Your comment (revisit what China sees as a “blip”) goes to the heart of international politics for the major international players. Do you take the world as you find it today or do you look back to your long and glorious history and try and recreate that.

  26. X I think you missed my point. I agreed with you that the Americans/Germans had blundered about (my term) or stirred things (your term). Putin sat on his hands while Sochi was on, but it was obvious he was going to do something when the games ended. That was obvious to everyone except the US & the Germans who carried on as if poking a bear was never going to cause a reaction.
    I think Putin thought he could have it both ways, keep trade & influence with the West, while taking de facto control of parts of Eastern Ukraine. Shooting down the airliner, will force him to choose. If he stays in with the pro Russian rebels, then the West will impose tougher sanctions & Russia will be isolated.
    A short term loss of popularity by distancing himself from the rebels, handing over the missile crew to the international court, returning Eastern Ukraine to Kiev control. Then play the long game. Help pro Russian candidates get elected. Give aid & cheap gas to Kiev when Western aid proves insufficient. In other words regain influence with the carrot, rather than the stick, which has just blown up in his face.

  27. The original game plan was that Europe (EU) would pay for it all, but things have escalated… as for the last part of the quoote, I am still counting:
    “distancing himself from the rebels, handing over the missile crew to the international court, returning Eastern Ukraine to Kiev control. Then play the long game. Help pro Russian candidates get elected. Give aid & cheap gas to Kiev when [if] Western aid proves insufficient”

    The aid pledged so far has been half of what would stop Ukraine from going bankrupt. And that was before any military operations/ mobilisation commenced.

  28. Do you think the missile crew are still alive? Between punishment for a massive balls up and a need to avoid any “I was following orders” embarrassment I would have thought they would have been disappeared either by the locals or the Russian intelligence apparatus.

  29. @Thread – since the Mongols were driven out, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Kingdom of Poland, the Baltic Empire of Sweden, the Hapsburg Empire and the Czars of all the Russias have had legitimate claims (by settlement, development and lawful administration) to some or all of the Ukraine…the fact that the Russian claim has been sustained the longest does not make it more legitimate than the others…and the only coherent post-UN method to resolve the problem is to allow the people of that increasingly benighted territory to make their own decision(s).

    Within that context, other Countries might legitimately try to influence outcomes by offering bribes or inducements of one sort or another (which both the EU and the Russians certainly were)…but what cannot be conceded is the right to eschew that approach in favour of coercion because it is cheaper, more culturally congenial or more likely of success…which means that in terms of the long-term stability of the international system it was perfectly OK for Czar Putin to offer bribes, because that costs money not lives. However when the bribes failed, he needed to increase the offer… :-)

    …not send the Cossacks. :-(

    Furthermore, if we don’t sustain that admittedly rather shabby principle, we will be very lucky indeed to get away with a Defence Budget anything like as low as 2.5% of GDP.


  30. Ukraine is an independent nation state, just as Poland, Germany and the UK are, its people have the right to determine their own destinies without the involvement of the GRU and its Spetsnaz units or the wider Russian military. Russia has no legitimate claim over any Ukrainian territory unless the people of that territory agree in a free and fair referendum that they wish to be associated with Russia. Ukraine has as much right to join NATO or the EU as any other country and Russia’s feelings are irrelevant in that. The current situation is rather like the UK suddenly deciding that the Republic of Ireland is actually British, confiscating Cork and then trying to destabilise the rest of the country by flooding it with arms, and irregular fighters.

  31. Hohum, who are the Ukrainians? That is the biggest problem. When the country was a single entity with the USSR, there was no serious border demarcation, so people “immigrated” west into Ukraine, like you would move from say Nottingham to Northhampton. After the breakup, suddenly there is now a line drawn where none used to exist, and these “immigrants” are caught on the wrong side of this “line”. Is it their home? Yes, it has been 30 years since the breakup, more than enough for one generation to have spent their entire lives there building a home. But their hearts are still Russian. This is why there is a separatist movement, they see the country trying to tear their home (location) and their home (lineage) apart.

    The fact that the old government of Ukraine was too busy lining their own pockets to fund outreach and integration programs in the last 30 years is now water under the bridge, though to be fair, their close ties with Russia probably made it look like an unnecessary expense. Hindsight. People often have no idea how important integration programs are until things blow up in their faces.

  32. Observer,

    Thats not a problem at all, who are the British? who are the Americans? etc etc. States are frequently made up of amorphous groups, some of whom wish they were part of another, it does not justify armed invasion and destabilisation by external forces. There are separatists forces because Russia created them.

    Trying to escape corruption in Ukraine by joining Russia is likely jumping from one frying pan into another at equal if not higher temperature.

  33. Hohum, it IS a big problem because you never integrated the population, they still consider themselves Russian. You do not get external destabilization, you got internal destabilization. Russia did not “create” them, they were there long ago, Russia just stirred the pot and gave them advisers and guns. Not a nice thing to do, but the best description for it would be Ukraine dropped the ball and Russia is currently running with it as far as it can for advantage. Which would not have happened if there was not a fumble in the first place.

    The big difference in your examples and Russia/Ukraine is that your countries are centuries in the making, the CIS and outlying countries are barely 30 years old, not long enough for the borders to solidify nor a sense of specific nationality to seep in over ethnic lines.

    Things are never as simple and single minded as “Russians = evil”, the whole chain of events is a mess with lots of shades of gray. For example, Ukraine shot down a Russian airliner with 78 dead. You don’t hear that often do you? But when the Russians did it, every Tom, Dick and Harry suddenly jumps on the bandwagon. If you want justice for MH17, doesn’t the same principle then apply to the Russian plane as well? Or does Ukraine get a pass because they are more lovable than the Russians?

    And God help us trying to untie the legality of overthrowing an elected government and the liability if the ousted president asks Russia for help. What a mess.

  34. @GNB

    Agree, we feel secure because of the world order we now live in. Compare diamond jubilee’s, 1897 the British empire was at Its hight, the spithead review included 165 warships, yet the nation was on edge and felt threatened. Role on to 2012 and at the next diamond jubilee there was no Spithead review and when asked of the possibly the first sea lord stated it would not have been very large or splendid ( a few frigates and submarines). Yet the nation has since the 1990s felt secure, we live in a safe Europe bound by allies and protected by the international order.

    This feeling of safety has in all western nations has lead to an underestimation of the impact of revisionist powers, such as Russia, China and much of the Middle East. We forget the world order we feel secure in was not sculpted by them and they do look to change it. The west is half way through dropping the ball across the the world, our political masters do need to get back in the game.

  35. @ Thread

    Richard North’s EU Referundum has a good 2 part piece on the missing Airliner:

    @ Observer
    At least someone else remembers how the last Democratically Elected government was ended in Ukraine. People seem to forget that the EU and Russia had made a deal with the then Kiev Government to hold new Presidential Elections. 24 hrs later the Government was overthrown. The Russians were pretty pissed at that!

    The EU pissed them off even more when at the end of June, when the EU signed Trade Partnership agreements with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia which also happen to include Military cooperation. Now if these had been purely Trade Agreements, we could say Moscow is overreacting. So why is the EU deliberately antagonising Moscow:

    We seem to be sleepingwalking into a new Cold War at the very least! Now is that going to happen by accident or is it, a deliberate action?

  36. @ Observer

    Though I get your point you have to qualify it by saying there was no freedom of movement within the USSR. Actually before serfdom was abolished they couldn’t leave their village without permission.

  37. Chris M said “Do you think the missile crew are still alive? Between punishment for a massive balls up and a need to avoid any “I was following orders” embarrassment I would have thought they would have been disappeared either by the locals or the Russian intelligence apparatus………”

    or Ukrainian government apparatus…….

    Fixed it for you. :) ;)

  38. Observer,

    No it is not a problem. A problem is when your neighbour floods you country with arms and fighters with the intent of destabilising your country. The Putin regime is a deeply corrupt and expansionist regime whose blundering pursuit of imperial fantasy, at the expense of independent nation states, resulted in the downing of MH-17. If he wanted to settle a genuine sense of separatism in Ukraine he would do by calling fore a referendum and offering incentives, not by fanning the flames of civil war.

  39. @ Hohum

    Not to start a bunfight, you wrote:
    “The Putin regime is a deeply corrupt and expansionist regime whose blundering pursuit of imperial fantasy, at the expense of independent nation states”

    Now I hope you don’t mind if I change Putin for EU you get:

    “The EU regime is a deeply corrupt and expansionist regime whose blundering pursuit of imperial fantasy, at the expense of independent nation states”

    Now I don’t think their are many people on here that would disagree with that! The EU is an Empire with Expansionist policies in all but name. Putin was elected by fair means (or foul) by the Russian people. Who voted for Mr Juncker?

    And to blame Putin for the downing of the Airliner is going to far. British Airways and others have been avoiding Ukrainian Airspace for months. The reason that Airliner was flying other Ukraine was to save fuel and money, pure and simple. Why else would you fly over a war zone where SAM systems are evidently in use?

    My apologies for posting a link to the Guardian

  40. @ Simon257

    The idea that some like Russians like being Russian is a dangerous idea for the EU; just as the idea that Putin is genuinely popular.

  41. @X

    lots of Russians like being Russian, generally not any that are gay or Lesbian, Muslim or other non orthodox religion or any who would like the chance to have a true debate and even publicly disagree with the Government though :)

  42. Putin is a clever chap.

    He also seems to be going for a last-ditch “rebuild mother Russia” campaign.

    If he were to attempt this he might benefit from stirring the pot a little to cause the British to concentrate elsewhere (say, for example the unmentionable islands), the French to look to Africa, much of NATO being concerned about oil supplies in the Middle East, and the USA worrying about overall control of the holy land.

    He can then aimlessly wander into the former soviet states and redistribute the message of imperial communism and oligarchical gain to all.

  43. @ X
    Very true.

    The EU hates countries having their own ideas! The very idea that sovereign Governments should run their own countries is just not on. Whether you like Cameron or not, at least he took a stand on Juncker. Whilst our so-called allies in Europe, just bent over and did what Germany told them to do!

    We have gone from the EEC to the EU, sooner or later it will be the EE aka European Empire or the Evil Empire take your pick!

  44. Simon247,

    I despise the EU as much as the next rational human being but the people who live within its member states got a vote as to whether or not they wanted to be in it, either directly or indirectly, they didn’t have their countries invaded.

    If Putin wants Ukraine I am fine with that, but he should convince the Ukrainians to vote for such a thing, not incite a civil war.

  45. Simon, slight correction, that airline was using the route because 1) there was no airspace closure above 30,000 feet and 2) No one expected rag tag rebels to get hold of and use SAMs that are capable of high level intercepts.

    There is precedent, the Middle East is pretty much on fire every alternate week, but not many airliners were downed or rerouted. Mostly because all the rebels had were MANPADs which could never have reached 30,000 ft.

    IIRC 25 other airlines use the same route.

    As for Putin mudslinging, there is a high possibility that the missile was actually stolen from the Ukrainian army stockpiles, so saying that he supplied them has a high chance of being wrong.

    Hohum, I’ve long since suspected that your worldview is shaped through soundbites…

    And you are talking abstract theory, when was the last time something like that happened to your country? For mine, it was 1966. Which still has effects even now.


    “If Putin wants Ukraine I am fine with that, but he should convince the Ukrainians to vote for such a thing, not incite a civil war.”

    HAHA!!! Have you been paying attention?

    “People seem to forget that the EU and Russia had made a deal with the then Kiev Government to hold new Presidential Elections. 24 hrs later the Government was overthrown. The Russians were pretty pissed at that!”

    I pretty much remember that this was the case too. Hohum, their reply would be “We tried that, but you backstabbed us.”

  46. Observer,

    Suspect as you may, you are as ever wrong though. Inciting civil war in a neighbouring country is an aggressive act and that view is not an abstract theory.

    And as for trying to troll with your own narrow narrative of recent Ukrainian history, well I am afraid I am not going to bite as you have already contradicted yourself.

  47. @ APATS

    And here is me thinking that a good chunk of the Russian army was actually Muslim………

    As for LGBT issues well I know here in the West it is a constituency that seemingly trumps all others. Are you saying that Russian laws against the promotion of “none traditional relationships” are just a product of a tiny homophobic minority within the Kremlin and that there is no legitimacy from below as it were for such laws? Or are using another constituency the Orthodox Church is responsible and that they are representative of a majority of Russian thinking? Is Orthodox Christianity a minority view in Russia? What makes one minority’s view more or less valid than that of another minority? Personally I believe homosexuality is genetic, nature over nurture as it were, are you saying homophobia is just a product of ignorant belief?

  48. @ Observer

    There is a good possibility that the missile was still in Ukraine “stockpiles”/ownership when it is launched…..

    Wasn’t there an Ukraine army air defence regiment slap bang in the middle of Donestk the day of the tragedy?

  49. Simon257

    I think you have no idea what a corrupt government looks like and the idea that there is even the remotest comparison possible to the EU is a joke. I suggest you take a look at this article which gives 10 % of an impression and understand that we (that is big international finance) helped and made money from laundering this money (illegal under US, UK and EU law naturally). The flows out of Russia would make this look like roundings.

    I forget which one of Yanukovych’s minsters (who fled) left behind 24 gold bars, $1 million in cash, bag of diamonds and a number of top end designer watches in his house (I may misremember the details, but the individual components are correct).

  50. @X

    I am saying that persecution and in Russia it is persecution (often physically violent persecution) of someone due to their race, religion or sexuality is wrong. So yes Homophobia is a product of ignorant belief.

    “There is a good possibility that the missile was still in Ukraine “stockpiles”/ownership when it is launched…..”

    Considering that the rebels had no aircraft, the aircraft shot down had transited Ukraine from west to east in contact with Ukrainian ATC, was squawking the correct mode 3, was following an air lane on a non threatening profile at a height and speed consistent with a civilian airliner the no proper air defence organisation fired on it by accident. The rebels however had been firing at targets and would have no means of access to the above info.

    TASS is a good impartial source though.

  51. Observer, X

    I had read that the missile unit was overrun a number of weeks ago. Whether the launchers were left behind or not is something we’re unlikely to ever know. I’m not sure it makes much difference, as there is enough evidence of Russian support to the separatists to keep western governments happy.

  52. Nick, with enough massaging, any media can make anyone look bad :)

    “I forget which one of Yanukovych’s minsters (who fled) left behind 24 gold bars, $1 million in cash, bag of diamonds and a number of top end designer watches in his house ”

    I can match the gold bars and the watches (my grandma was a bit old fashioned, believed in gold over banks), the cash and diamonds I’d have to do a bit of liquidation. And I like to think that I’m middle income. Massage, massage, I’m now a top government official who takes kickbacks to buy gold and diamonds. :) Not to say that the guy can’t be corrupt, but listing assets isn’t a good benchmark for corruption allegations, but somehow people think that anyone rich must have robbed someone else.

    BTW, the NATO deployment, checking the timeline is by orders of the previous Ukrainian government, the Russian “puppet” that got deposed. What a tangled web we weave.

  53. Quite disturbing is the Ukrainian AN 26 shot down on the 14th of July was done so at an altitude in excess of 20,000 feet. so it should have been highlighted then somebody was using systems more powerful than MANPADS in the area.

  54. It looks like there’s a good chance SBIRS has located the launch site in eastern Ukraine. Obviously, we only have the word of the USAF to go on, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Speculation seems to be centred around what happened to the Buks of the Army unit A-1402, based in a Donetsk suburb captured by the rebels on 29 June.

    Notam restricted Ukraine airspace below FL32 – but that An-26 being shot down at FL20 a few days before should have been a big clue that there was a real danger from something bigger than a MANPAD. It seems some of the flightcrew had thought that one through and refused to fly.

    [Edit – APatS, snap!]

  55. APATS true, but you know that civil aviation, other than being an oxymoron, doesn’t usually check military deployments and losses, especially one from another country.

    And regarding Ukrainian air defences, didn’t they down a Siberian Air passenger jet by mistake earlier this year? So it’s hardly impossible for another “oops” to happen isn’t it? Personally I think it is unlikely, but we have to be fair.

    Nick, I see a fudge in the article. “However it was gained” :) Assets do not imply corruption, otherwise Bill Gates would be on Interpol. Corruption is a method, money is a goal. Many routes to a goal, not all are illegal. Think he might be siphoning off resources from somewhere, but we have to be fair, otherwise we’re no different from raving vigilantes.

  56. @ Nick
    I never said anything about how corrupt or incompetent the last Ukrainian government was, it was Democratically elected though. Show me any government where a politician doesn’t line their own nest. What’s the old saying ‘Power Corrupts’.

    By the way, how long ago were the EU Accounts last signed off? And then ask why haven’t they be signed off?

  57. @Observer
    You mean Siberia Airlines Flight 1812, accidentally shot down in 2001 by an S-200 fired in a peacetime training exercise? Threat assessment is a bit different to an active war zone where the rebels are in the process of capturing army units with ever-greater capabilties.

  58. El, thanks, if it was 2001, then it’s a bit out of the timeframe, you’re right.

  59. @Observer

    “And regarding Ukrainian air defences, didn’t they down a Siberian Air passenger jet by mistake earlier this year? So it’s hardly impossible for another “oops” to happen isn’t it? Personally I think it is unlikely, but we have to be fair.”

    It was 2001 over the Black Sea during a live firing exercise. An S300 system fired a missile at a drone and destroyed it but an S200 system also engaged the drone and instead of doing whatever it was meant to when its target was already destroyed it engaged the Siberian Airlines flight 100 plus miles further on.

    To be completely fair a tiny bit of research would have told you most of that.

    Of interest the US immediately told them what had happened.

  60. Observer

    Even if he was earning $1 million a year, it would take a long time to earn that much and this was just cash/assets at home and not in tax haven bank accounts.

  61. Re: “The EU is an Empire with Expansionist policies in all but name. ”

    LOL wot?!?

    Empire = a set of states in which one state has responsibility (read: control) for the foreign policy of all the states.
    Whereas, the EU is a set of states that very reluctantly has only acquired a foreign minister, who can’t do much. Conversely, it is all about harmonising the domestic policies within member states. Pretty much the opposite of Empire.

    Expansionist = wanting to expand and cover neighbours such as Morocco, Turkey, Belarus, Iceland, Greenland, Tunisia, and then on to Georgia, Armenia, Russia, etc. Pretty much the opposite of: “Poland should be the last member, but I suppose we are going to have to accept Serbia eventually “.

    Conversely, NATO is all about a collective foreign policy that is driven by one member state, and it is NATO expansion that actually bothers Russia. But we don’t have a pre-existing anti-NATO agenda, so we are not looking for anti-NATO ammunition…

  62. Highlighting our own biases part 2:

    Well, at least we can all agree to condemn Russia + Turkey + Saudi + Bahrain for providing high-tech weapons to the militants in the Ukraine + Syria + Iraq, who then went on to (respectively): accidentally shoot down an airline; & deliberately invade Iraq & demand that the local religious minority renounce their religion or be killed by the sword.
    Likewise we can agree to make international pariahs of Russia & Turkey + Saudi + Bahrain, and impose crippling sanctions, unless they reign-in the militants that they set up.
    Oh, wait….

    (We seem to identify the airline passengers, and indeed the Ukrainians, as “one of us”, but think of the Christians in Iraq as “not one of us”.)

  63. Much of the region that is now trying to separate from the Ukraine by its now Russian speaking population was repopulated by Russians loyal to Stalin after been ‘de-populated’ of ethnic Ukrainians by the enforced famine of 1932-1932 when stubborn Kulaks refused to give up their farms in favour of the collective .
    Numbers vary on those starved to death by the NKVD and Red Armies actions of confiscating all the food including the next years seed stocks from 3.3 million to over 5 million.
    The ethnic Russians now living there perhaps feel threatened by this history even though they themselves were blameless being just decendants of poor Russian peasantry trucked in cattle cars to farm the now vacant land.
    Similar to the various Balkan factions who over history sided with one side or another leaving their decendants to carry their ancestors guilt often into an early grave.

  64. Mike

    Of course we’re hypocrites. Our geopolitical aims (by that I mean the “West” when we can agree to act collectively) aren’t necessarily in line with the other Global players (eg China, Russia) and there are regions of the world where the conflict is obvious (E Europe, Iran/Syria, South China Seas). None of this stops us making money out of either Country either via globalisation. Its a pretty mixed up world really.

    It was convenient to support radical islam when it was fighting our opponent (eg 1980 Afghanistan), but not when it turned on us (Afghanistan, Iraq). We don’t want Russia to dominate Eastern Europe and it suits us to bring Ukraine into our orbit – if we can at a limited cost , just as it would suit us if the post Putin Russia was closer aligned to our aims. That Putin has his own ideas, which are coloured by the Cold War, is unfortunate surely?

  65. @ Mike Wheatley

    I consider the EU to be an Empire. We have gone from a free trade zone of originally 6 states to currently 28, with more on the way. If that’s not expansionist, please tell me what is?

    I see the USA, Russia and China as Empires, what’s wrong in that. Washington, Beijing, Moscow and now Berlin are the new Rome’s.

    This PDF is from the Congressional Research Service on EU Enlargement

    An interesting read. But the eye opening part is in the last couple of sentences:

    “On the other hand, some pundits worry that despite the EU’s current financial difficulties, a larger EU—with an economic output roughly equivalent to that of the United States and growing political clout—could ultimately rival U.S. power and prestige in the longer term”.

    How long will it be before the USA sees the EU as rival. Because they have already started spying on them already!

  66. “To be completely fair a tiny bit of research would have told you most of that. ”

    That’s true APATS, unfortunately I was working from memory and remembered the date wrongly.

    Think the best we can hope for out of this mess is that it cools down after simmering for a while. Currently too much noise and random screaming. Oh well, life sucks.

  67. Simon

    Since the UK is intercepting and processing a lot of the data for the NSA, we’re in the strange position of being party of the spying organization and being spied upon as one of the more important EU members.

    No doubt, the EU was founded with (at least in some politicians eyes) of creating a US of Europe to counter balance the USA. I can see de Gaulle and the French love/hate relationship with the USA being a big fan of that idea.

    It seems to me that the Germans are mostly interested in creating an economic space for their exports, whilst the UK is torn between three different concepts (our love of the special relationship, our historical avoidance of European commitments and our delusion that we (still) have a special role in the world because of the Empire).

  68. @monkey, thanks for bringing this in (has not figured more than in the passing in the discussion we have been having for a couple of months)
    “Numbers vary on those starved to death by the NKVD and Red Armies actions of confiscating all the food including the next years seed stocks from 3.3 million to over 5 million.
    The ethnic Russians now living there perhaps feel threatened by this history even though they themselves were blameless”
    – Under orders from Moscow, Khrushchev participated in massive confiscations of food, crops, forage grains, and supplies, that left millions of peasants starving to death
    – Once he became the leader of the Soviet Union, “giving” the Russian Crimea (Russian as in part of and controlled by) to Ukraine was an attempt at making up, so that Ukraine and the Ukrainians could see themselves as truly part of the Soviet Union… I won’t speculate about personal quilt and if it had any part in the decision

  69. Isn’t Blair saying that abstaining (from a role in Europe) won’t stop the others dropping us in a mess they’ve cooked up (along with themselves, naturally)?
    – I see an element of adventurism is US foreign policy (have provided some quotes to substantiate this in the Ukraine context) because they see it that they can extricate themselves from a situation turning tricky (and come back ten years later, to see how it turned out) but we can’t if the situation is “next door” to us.

  70. For sure, would you not, as well, if it only was feasible? Because their productivity growth is outstripping the rest of Europe, they effectively get a competitive devaluation through the euro *every year* RE:

    “seems to me that the Germans are mostly interested in creating an economic space for their exports, whilst the UK is torn between three different concepts (our love of the special relationship, our historical avoidance of European commitments and our delusion that we (still) have a special role in the world because of the Empire)”

    The real problem is that the Eurozone is a wealth redistribution scheme and not a wealth growth scheme.

    A redistribution scheme will fall when facing disputes about the amounts to share, the principles of distribution and biased incentives.
    – For instance, German support to the scheme would be likely to stop, if the costs of financial crisis management were to be assigned on the basis of competitiveness of member countries. The ver same basis that determines who will reap the bulk of the long-term benefits.

  71. The Euro was the political price exacted by France for German re-unification. The French got to tie the Germans ever closer. But the Germans then benefited from a cheap Euro, combined to the Mark, for exports. Therefore the EU became a distribution scheme and a wealth generation scheme. Would Europe be better off for a slightly poorer German with the Mark? Probably.

  72. @ Simon:

    “I see the USA, Russia and China as Empires, what’s wrong in that. Washington, Beijing, Moscow and now Berlin are the new Rome’s.”

    What is wrong with that, is the definition of Empire. The EU does not meet the definition. Nor does the US, China, or Russia. But NATO nearly does, because its foreign policy is so heavily dominated by one member state (the USofA).
    Conversely, EU sanctions against Russia are being debated by many EU member states, and not just being dictated by Germany. Merkel is not literally dictating to London, how to handle Russia. (As compared to the British Empire, in which London decided that Egypt would go to war with the Sudan, and only informed the Egyptian government in Cairo a week after the war had started!)

    The EU is engaging in annexation, but being a democracy, that works in both directions, and the new states are as much annexing the old EEC, as the other way around.

    “If that’s not expansionist, please tell me what is?”
    That depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is. ;-)
    The EU “is” not expansionist, at the moment, although the EEC “was” expansionist, when it was in Tory-friendly free-trade-area mode. NATO was also expansionist at the same time, for the same reasons: the former Warsaw Pact countries wanted to join, and are culturally very easy to merge with.

  73. This is the beginning of the end for Putin, it may take 5-10 years but he is for ever weakened in the eyes of those who matter the Oligarchs . As for the 4th Reich sorry I mean Europe , the Germans are just patiently waiting for an acceptable barely democratic Russia to invite into the fold, they are quite willing to play off the UK / US and who ever else to create a Superpower to rival the US and China.

  74. ACC

    I absolutely agree with you; the Eurozone is an absolute failure right now (and a large proportion of European Banks are under-capitalized and very exposed. They live on the promise of ECB funds, issuing which would increase German national debt due to the way the ECB is funded).

    The only economic system under which the Eurozone can be successful is a single federal government in a full fiscal union managing the Economy, Taxation and redistributing tax from Germany/Netherlands/France (?) to Club Med.

  75. Nick, I think I heard of an economic system like that before. What was it called again? Communism?

    Tim, you think a country that was once considered a superpower is going to swallow their pride and join the EU as a junior member? They’ll rather be their own boss and as you so jokingly put it, become the 5th Reich. Remember that number 3 was the result of resurgent nationalism after a painful collapse. We really don’t want Russia to go down that road.

  76. @ Tim

    Considering he is 61 your forecast isn’t much to go on. I can’t see him hanging on to power for the sake of it unless there is nobody to replace him; the project is wider than Putin. Interesting to hear this talk of Putin being a madman then watch whackadoodle Biden stumble about the globe. Saying that he will still be active when Call Me Dave and Barry have moved on to the lecture and consultancy circuit which is something to think about.

  77. @ Nic:
    “Of course we’re hypocrites.”

    (1) Unconscious / subconscious hypocrisy is very dangerous to ourselves, and fundamentally dumb. Whenever we have strong feelings about another nation, I advocate actively looking to see if there is another very similar situation elsewhere in which we don’t have any strong feelings.
    (2) IMHO hypocrisy always comes back to bite us in the ass.

    More interestingly:
    (3) IMHO we can learn a lot about our actual, unstated, motivations, by carefully looking at any double standards that we appear to be expressing.

    For example: what policy goals do we have now, against Putin, that: (a) we did not have last year (b) we don’t have re: Syria / Iraq, and (c) are not shared by France and Germany?
    My current prefered hypothesis: “New Europe vs. Old Europe”.
    – We want to expand NATO more than we want to expand the EU.
    – We want more EU members with ‘hawkish’ foreign policy views.
    – We want a broad free trade area, with too many members to get agreement on anything controversial, as opposed to ‘ever deeper union’.

    Putin’s incompetence has basically given the Ukrainian majority to ‘the west’, which I predict will lead to the Ukraine becoming ‘Poland: the next generation’. (Which is the sort of EU / NATO member we like most.) The foreign policy goal of the UK is therefore to be ‘loudly supportive of Kiev’. IMHO Putin bashing is a consequence of supporting Kiev, rather than vice-versa. To that end, I would recommend only bashing Putin where it supports Kiev (and potentially other comparable nations).

    I encourage your considered reply on the subject. :-)

  78. I welcome Mike Wheatley to this round of the Ukraine discussion… Where did that Derek, who was so sure about positions that were diametrically opposite to common sense, disappear to?

    Or is it that the propaganda machine is not so sure of itself (can’t flick the fingers as in magic) and has to have a cold run with a (some what) knowledgeable “focus group”?

  79. Mike Wheatly said ” I predict will lead to the Ukraine becoming ‘Poland: the next generation’.”

    As I said earlier,

    “There was a school of thought in the EU that Poland and the last entrants into the club should be the last. Given this crisis there will probably moves to re-evaluate such thinking with a view to bringing the Ukraine inside. Never let a crisis go to waste……”

    ……..what you have to ask is who gains from 45 million extra customers, natural gas, and all that wheat?

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