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Saturday, 9 July 2016

Last Tango in Moscow

Europe and NATO keep expanding and Russia is very concerned about these expansions. To some extent, I even sympathise with this Russian fear for an expanding Europe (France/Napoleon and Germany/Hitler) and NATO. Former buffer states and/or former Soviet countries turn to NATO for protection. From a Russian point of view, these changes must indeed feel threatening.

The default Russian response in any conflict is the main reason why buffer states and former Soviet countries are more and more afraid to lose their independence, privileges and power.

The Dutch cartoon by Collignon is perfect: Russia eying the locked doors of its scared neighbours with a crowbar and a welcome sign.

The near Russian bankruptcy even drives allies like Belarus towards an opportunistic EU approach. This Belarus' betrayal led to a 40% decline in cheap Russian oil (eg, HP).

The EU and NATO have been welcoming East European countries so far. The outcome of the Dutch Ukraine referendum wasn't so much about the EU Association Agreement. It was much more about a Dutch (voter) veto on the continued expansion of the EU. Only 1 day after the Brexit outcome, EU leaders hurried to say to Balkan countries that further expansion is still the plan (source) which seems inconsistent with Donald Tusk's pre-Brexit statement about the European Dream (Politico).

The British constitutional, economic, monetary and political crisis is a blessing in disguise for the EU. New exit referenda are suddenly much less likely as even the Brits regret their mistake. Despite public EU pleas for a quick Leave, it's actually in their best interests to continue milking this British disaster. In due time, the UK will change its mind about leaving. Also see my June 25 blog.

Unfortunately for Russia, the continued enlargement of NATO does not really require voter consent (Wiki). Fortunately for Russia, they have Donald Trump who seems to be against NATO.

Actually, there is something crucial that I do not understand in these Russian fears. They do not address the lengthy nature of Western European consensus decision-making. While Russia may officially need parliamentary approval for its attacks on neighbouring territories (ie, Crimea, GeorgiaUkraine), this parliamentary procedure is very, very different in practice.

A Western European parliamentary approval for an attack on any of its neighbours is beyond any imagination. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Russia as recent history has shown. This explains East and West European fears about Russia. The Russian fears are not supported by any recent events and are only rooted in historic events, like WW2 and before. Paranoia should have an expiration date too.

Last Tango in Paris (1972) - IMDb, Wiki


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