Russia should be allowed to extend its empire. For the last 6 months or so the media has projected images of the slaughter in Syria and highlighted the clear divisions between the West (USA, UK, and France) & the Russian Federation. A political stand-off appears to have occurred with some 30,000 deaths resulting. The UN has yet again shown its lack of metal too. The Dan Snow Documentary shown on TV the other night about Syria proved that there are no easy answers to this implosion of freedom. I came away from watching it having some minute sympathy for Assad and I feel somewhat guilty for this. As the shenanigans in Libya and Egypt have proved, it may be very dangerous to fly the freedom/democracy flag until some clear direction is shown by global statesmen. With Obama doing a tour of Israel and the West Bank there are serious tensions in the zone with Iran stirring up the pot. The debacle of Iraq & Afghanistan still hangs over us and terrorism is rife in Yemen, oppression rife in Bahrain and elsewhere, and now France have gone over the top in Mali showing that Africa is not immune too. It’s getting like a RISK board out there.
Putin, Medvedev and the competent Foreign Minister have always suggested to the West that Russia’s stance is mainly historic and symbolic. Russia has sold arms to Syria for generations and claims it doesn’t want to lose its influence in that area of the Middle East. The truth is, of course, that since the fall of USSR the Russians only have minor access to the Mediterranean through a naval base in Syria. Beforehand the USSR had the luxury of using its Baltic fleet out of the Black Sea but today Ukraine controls this area of influence (although many of the former USSR warships are rusting in dock).
As the Cyprus crisis deepens and there is a degree of politicising between Brussels, Moscow, Nicosia and other vested cities it would appear that there’s a real opportunity here to sort two huge messes out with some strategic and sensible diplomacy. It’s clear that the bankers are running out of ideas whilst Russian citizens with cash in Cyprus are saddled with a potential problem not of their making.
This has just been reported;-
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has lambasted the EU’s handling of the Cyprus debt crisis, comparing a plan for a levy on bank deposits to measures that hurt savers under the Soviet Union. However, Moscow has yet to offer any concrete help to the Cypriot government, the FT reports. Cyprus on Wednesday was left with narrowing options to rescue its outsize financial-services sector from collapse—something that could end its membership in the Eurozone—after international lenders rejected an alternative government plan to secure a multibillion-euro bailout and Russian officials remained cool to a Cypriot gas-for-cash deal, The Wall Street Journal Europe says. Banks in Cyprus were ordered to remain shut until Tuesday as Cypriot and European officials anxiously hunted for alternatives to an abortive plan to tax bank deposits as part of a €10bn bailout. Officials were resurrecting previously discarded proposals as they attempted to avoid a financial meltdown, the FT says.
Surely this is the time for statesmen and statesmanship!
The historic Greek and British interests in Cyprus are really irrelevant to the situation today. Cypriots appear to prefer the Russian connection especially as Cyprus is really a Moscow equivalent of Monaco anyway.
By getting Obama and Putin together on the Syria solution, working with the ineffective UN, it’s quite possible that Russia really does hold the right cards to extend its EMPIRE. It makes complete sense to me to allow Russia (Gazprom) access to Cypriot oil and gas contracts in return for assistance to the indebtedness of Cyprus. The question surely is; is Obama up for a solution to Syria at the same time?
In the small picture this blog may not have a great deal to do with Enterprise Britain but in the big picture a Russian solution may be better than throwing good money after bad into Cypriot coffers. Britain could quite easily broker a deal by throwing our moribund naval base into the hat.
The EU should make a hasty retreat from their dithering.
A new age in Anglo-Russian relations is a distinct possibility. Does Hague have the bottle?