SYRIA. So, another fun military intervention that will be over by the weekend is about to light-heartedly begin. It is justified by unshakeable evidence that will later turn out to be ephemeral; evidence so certain indeed that we can’t wait for the inspectors who were conveniently nearby to report. Actually, it’s already fading. As before, the costs will go to us and the benefits to our enemies. I just don’t understand why we are spending our blood and treasure supporting our enemies .I never thought I would ever agree with Robert Fisk, but there it is.
RUSSIA-SYRIA. I believe there is too much talk of Syria being Russia’s “ally” and all that: I see such assertions as part of the preparation of the intellectual battlespace: Putin and Assad are each made a more acceptable target by their alleged close association. Moscow has three main interests here. Principled: Moscow sees the actions of Washington and a few others re-arranging governments as destructive of such principles of international behaviour as exist. Practical: Moscow believes, and precedent suggests it is correct, that these “humanitarian interventions” just make things worse. Personal: the appetite grows with the feeding; is Moscow on the list to be overthrown by the new moral imperialists? The consequent instability can overflow into Russia. As a member of the P5 it is a strong upholder of the UN, a forum in which it is a big player with a veto; it doesn’t like all that to be bypassed by some sanctimonious fraction of NATO. All quite simple in fact and firmly based on national interest. The famous “Mediterranean naval base” in reality amounts to the occasional use of a dock in a small port (look at it on Google Earth). The arms sales are small change and the big ticket items are postponed. There is little Moscow can do to stop intervention, but Putin plays the long game. From that perspective, these “humanitarian interventions” weaken the USA and the other participants. He is the only adult in the playpen.
SNOWDEN. Readers will remember that Snowden appeared at Sheremetyevo en route to Cuba. Now we hear, via Kommersant, that Havana told Moscow that the aircraft would not be allowed to land because of Washington’s pressure. Thus he was stuck there. So, if this is so (and who could doubt it given the forcing down of Morales’ plane?) Snowden is in Russia today because of Washington’s actions. (Fidel Castro denies, but, applying the Rice-Davies test, we may discount this). More “smart power” I suppose.
THE LATEST ANTI-RUSSIA CAMPAIGN. If you are interested in reading the opinions of Russia’s leading gay rights crusader on the latest Western contrived anti-Russia issue, here it is. He does not thank all his new best friends in the safe West. He actually welcomes the laws: “These laws, especially the one passed at federal level, actually gave a boost to the LGBT fight in Russia. More activists are now protesting in various cities. Look at St. Petersburg, Kazan, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Kostroma and Syktyvkar. The topic is being widely discussed in the media. This was unthinkable in 2005 when we started.”
NGOs. The Kostroma Center for Civic Initiatives Support has filed an appeal in the Constitutional Court over the application of the NGO law. It certainly did receive foreign financing but I guess that the question to be tested is whether it is “political”. I reiterate that the USA has an exactly similar law (not that the endlessly anti-Russian media bothers to mention that). Meanwhile the government has a program of giving money to NGOs (something, as we know from Western experience, that is fraught with co-option possibilities) and will give money to several NGOs now deprived of foreign financing.
PUTIN. A Levada poll shows a certain tiredness. Between now and 2001 the number disappointed in him has doubled to 22% from 10%; unconditional supporters are down to 14% from 19% and the “anybody but” opinion is now 5% (0% then). One of the reasons why I thought his return was a mistake is that everyone runs out of his possibilities eventually.
CORRUPTION. The May law that prohibits senior officials, including lawmakers, judges and heads of state corporations. Their spouses and underage children, from having foreign bank accounts or financial instruments abroad has now taken effect. Part of the efforts against corruption.
GEORGIA. Moscow and Tbilisi have agreed to resume cross-border passenger and cargo road transportation suspended on 2006. Given that more than half of the $800 million in remittances that Georgia has received so far this year – came from Russia – this is a good thing all round.