Saturday, August 02, 2014

The End of Vladimir Putin

Could the war in Ukraine bring down the Kremlin?

By BEN JUDAH
July 31, 2014

When rebel crosshairs fixed on Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 30,000 feet above the sunflowers of Eastern Ukraine, they had no idea what they were about to blow up. No clue they were about to incinerate hundreds of Dutch holidaymakers. None whatsoever they were about to wreck a decade of the Kremlin’s finest diplomacy—years of cleverly preventing the Americans from building a united Western front by playing divide and rule amongst the Europeans.

The rebels blew up more than a plane. They blew up Russia’s winning position in Brussels against sanctions. Europeans like to think they play games with others, but the truth is that for years Russia has been pulling strings inside the European Union. The boys in Brussels like to boast about the EU. But they are ashamed to admit how far the Kremlin had gamed them: playing them off each other with energy, armaments and oligarchs.

None of the heavy hitters in Europe were willing to give these up big, juicy bribes for Ukraine. This is why serious sanctions have taken so long. Because for all the fighting talk from the Eurocrats, Russian money has run rings around its interests, its cash aiming to cripple any common foreign policy. Russia is Europe’s third-biggest trade partner. Moscow’s investments in the continent are enormous: Russia does over 40 percent of its trade with the European Union, supplying the bloc with roughly a quarter of its gas, while receiving more than $310 billion in loans from its banks.

(More here.)

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