Tag Archives: EU

I spy, you spy, everybody’s spying

This is not to say that Russian president Vladimir Putin suffers from paranoia.

This is to say that he believes that everybody’s against him. Not even that: Vladimir Putin is perfectly convinced of it.

This can be the only explanation for his statement that the Internet is the brainchild of the U.S. espionage agency, the CIA, and that the American spooks have been controlling it all along, since its inception, all the way up to today.

One wonders what former U.S. vice-president, one Al Gore, would have to say about that. After all, Gore has become famous (or infamous, depends on your point of view) when he announced to the world that Internet was his brainchild, and nobody else’s.

If one were Al Gore, one would demand explanations from Vladimir Putin, and pronto.

One wonders, however, whether Putin’s answers would be forthcoming any time soon. The guy is extremely busy so far as the Inernet is concerned. First, he had his people infiltrate the management of VKontakte, a Russian version of Facebook. Then, he had his intelligence service people demand that Pavel Durov, the founder of VKontakte, share his network users’ information with them. In particular, Durov would reveal later, they were interested about the accounts of those who hadn’t been happy with Vladimir Putin’s works and had enough courage to say it publicly.

Durov, quite properly, turned the Russian intelligence service down, was kicked out by Putin’s management crowd, told his programmers he was leaving, the programmers said they would be leaving with him and, for the time being, Durov and his group are somewhere else, but definitely not in Russia.

To make everything look and sound legal, Russian parliament (Duma) voted in a new law, one that says that foreign social media networks must have their servers in Russia, as well as keeping their users’ data for six months.

Governments’ control manias

Not that this is anything new. The European Union (EU), obsessed as it is with controlling everything that exists wherever it can look, has been trying for years to get control of the Internet (and Internet-based communications especially). The Bruxelles bureaucrats base their demand on security, just as the Chinese government has done some time ago, when it demanded control over anything Google did in their country, including censoring some parts of the search engine’s results that could be accessed by Chinese citizens.

As it is, some of the most important parts of the Internet are controlled by ICANN. What the heck is THAT?

Here’s your answer: is is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. It is anon-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world. ICANN says it is dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. As it says itself, ICANN promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers.

Through its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet.

Why is there nobody else?

One reason: size of the North American market.

The other, just as important: the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations body, hasn’t been able to come to an agreement how to operate the Internet. That led to fractioning of the entire thing, with ICANN sitting on top, but with an ever-growing number of other non-governmental (and non-profit) groups taking part in operating it.

So far as the Internet is concerned, this is a much better state of affairs than having governments making sure nobody’s able to stir the stagnant waters of their governing by being too nosy.

A spy is a spy is a spy

Of course, it is quite logical that Russia’s Putin would believe an opponent’s intelligence agency is behind everything he cannot control. Himself a former rather high-ranking KGB officer (and a spy), this kind of thinking is in his blood.

Putin is not alone. German chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff  want to get the Internet out of American control, and take it straight under their respective governments’ control. They are both perfectly livid – to the point of hysteria – about U.S. spy agency NSA’s monitoring of their own communications.

All of this flies in the face of what the Internet is and is supposed to be.

Granted, the networking projects – spawned originally in very individualistic minds of computer scientists – got a boost when U.S. military became interested enough to fund the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, a.k.a. the ARPANET. The network would, first of all, link a number of universities. That would eventually get it from under U.S. government control.

Government control, or, rather, financing, helped get the fledgling computer networking off its diapers, out of the world of fantasy not even the most imaginative computer scientists of the time would dare think of. It made it reality.

Anything wrong with that? Well, that would be another topic for another day.

Government control as some governments like to achieve it now, is all about George Orwell’s 1984 and its concepot of Big Brother.

Not so shocking in Brazilian president Rousseff’s case. Her father, Petar Rousseff, fled Bulgaria when, as an active member of the local communist party, he was justifiably afraid of prosecution. On arrival in Brazil he’d become an entrepreneur. His family would move up the social ladder. His daughter Dilma, as has been usual in such and similar cases, would return to leftist politics, and she wouldn’t abandon them even after becoming rich herself.

Bluntly: governments have the right to control everything, including people’s thoughts. That would be as natural to Dilma Rousseff as breathing in and breathing out. She would couch it all in anti-American propaganda which only goes to show that she knows what’s fashionable these days amongst the intelligentsia.

It’s funnier in Angela Merkel’s case. A former research scientist in the field of physical chemistry, she spent her youth in the frightful atmosphere of her communist homeland, the GDR (German Democratic Republic). What was so democratic about the GDR, one fails to figure out.

But if you decide to learn more about Frau Chancellor’s past, you won’t be as surprised.

A few details: her father was a pastor, yet, the family not only could travel (and travelled) frequently from the East to the West, but did so using one of the two automobiles it owned. Both situations unheard of. Travel, especially travel between the East and the West, was strictly under the control of Stasi (secret police and intelligence service). Automobile ownership was under strict control, too. Owning a car was a sign that the person who had received the voucher to buy one was a reliable comrade. Owning TWO cars? This has had led to a few eyebrows shooting up. Some went so far as to conclude that Merkel’s father had a “sympathetic” relationship with the communist regime. Such freedom and privileges for a Christian pastor and his family would have been impossible in the GDR otherwise.

Angela Merkel was a member of the Free German Youth (FDJ), a body under the strict control of the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED), a communist party under any other name. It would be difficult to hold this membership in and of itself against her. While voluntary on paper, membership or lack thereof would open (or shut) doors to education beyond grade eight.

Except: Merkel became a member of the FDJ district board and secretary for “Agitprop” (Agitation and Propaganda). She would claim later that she was secretary for culture, something her former chairman contradicted with passion deserving of better things.

Not that she’d be a dissenter of any kind. Her science was what mattered, and if it involved membership in this or that communist front organization, so be it.

Why ought one wonder that Angela Merkel has no issues with government snooping all over Internet servers that it has under its control? Is she not aware of what such approach cost most people who used to live in what used to be the communist GDR?

Yes, it is true that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) used the Internet’s social media networks to gather information on what they termed “people of interest.”

This hasn’t got as much to do with those networks as it has with the NSA. Would you punish a hammer because it gave a nail such a terrible headache?

Gone are the times – if they ever existed – when it wasn’t sporting for gentlemen to read others’ mail.

We can debate ad nauseam to what degree it is kosher and to what degree it is not, to cast vast surveillane networks all over the place, in the hope that such nets may help catch fish that one’s been chasing all over the place. Whether it’s permitted is one thing, whether it’s done is another matter altogether.

And, by the way, if the Brazilian and German spy agencies hadn’t been spying in the U.S., they weren’t doing their job.

Calling the Internet a CIA invention and tool, as Russian president Putin is doing, that would be hysterically funny. If he didn’t mean it, that is.

The tragedy is, he means it.

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Who’s failed Ukraine and the Ukrainians?

The West has nobody else to blame but itself for what’s going on in Ukraine. And lest anybody thinks that Russia’s takeover of Crimea is the final step, let them think again.

Russia has been used to enjoying her superpower standing. That dates back to the Tsarist times, this is not just her relatively recent communist past. But it was her communist past that brought Mother Russia firmly down on her knees. Communism does that to national economies.

The accepted wisdom has it that Tsarist Russia was a dirt-poor country that was going nowhere fast.Thus, the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917.

An old joke comes to mind: the country’s most momentous event is called October Revolution, but they celebrate it in November. And that’s how everything works over there.

Poor? Yes, absolutely. Going nowhere fast? A perfect lie. After all, Russia was quite capable of feeding herself, something that can’t be mentioned in polite society about Russia under communism.

But even with her trousers filled with holes, Russia (the Soviet Union, that is) could always claim she was a superpower that made her adversaries shake in their boots.

A few steps down the memory lane

Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky led the so-called February Revolution of 1917. The plan was to overthrow Tsarism and install at least a semblance of democracy in Russia.

Debates rage even today whether the idea of democracy in Russia was premature, and the fact remains that all of this was happening while the First World War was still going on.

German Imperial Staff, facing their country’s looming defeat, would come up with a plan some call brilliant. How to get Russia, one of Germany’s enemies, out of the equation? Simply: hire Vladimir Iliych Ulianov-Lenin and the group of his fanatical followers, most of whom were living in the safety of neutral Switzerland, finance them, and bring them over to Russia. The aim was to overthrow Kerensky, all the while introducing Lenin’s brand of Marxism, and putting the country in such a disarray it would beg Germany for forgiveness and plead for peace.

This move did NOT prevent Germany’s loss, but it did bring Russia to her knees.

Lenin introduced drastic measures to secure his victory. He was the guy who introduced Russia to the concept of concentration camps, mass executions of hostages and prisoners and other similar steps to convince the populace that it would obey or else.

Lenin died in 1924.

His replacement, Josif Vissarionovich Stalin, an organizer if there ever was one, developed Lenin’s form of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” close to perfection. Except, not even the ruthless system could feed the nation. Especially considering that Lenin has created what would become the Soviet Union, making Mother Russia a centre of an empire at a time when she could not afford it.

Stalin would continue with Lenin’s imperialism.

After the Soviet Union became part of the victorious allies who defeated Germany’s Adolf Hitler and his Nazis, the Soviets would become honoured guests at the tables of the mighty. They would even win the right of veto at the newly established United Nations’ Security Council.

Soviet citizenry in general – and its Russian segment, in particular – were proud: theirs was a superpower rubbing shoulders with the rest of the world’s powers, and whenever the Soviets said something, it carried considerable weight.

Skipping a few eras ahead, eras that would only confirm that communism really wasn’t the best idea to ever emerge and be imposed on a nation (or a group of nations), we get directly to Mikhail Sergeievich Gorbachev. This typical “apparatchik” whom only the naïve western elites could consider a Second Coming knew one thing: his country was on the brink of a total collapse. What he did not realize was that once just a bit of the bitter truth spreads around, it would be the death of communism. He unleashed “glasnost,” and the rest, as the cliché has it, is history.

Boris Nikolaievich Yeltsin, Gorbachev’s successor, just bowed to the inevitable, dismantling the Soviet Union (and letting the so-called union republics decide which way they wanted to go).

That was the end of Russia as an empire.

And then along came Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, a former high-ranking secret police (KGB) official, a guy brought up in making sure his country would remain an empire forever.

Which brings us full circle back to today’s realities.

So, what’s going on, anyway?

When Stalin’s successor, Nikita Sergeievich Khruschev, donated Crimea to Ukraine in 1954, he couldn’t have imagined that the Soviet Union would once cease to exist. For him, the transfer was largely symbolic: it would be Moscow, for all he cared, issuing the marching orders, so what?

But when Ukraine became an independent country, that would change the map right then and there. How? Simply: Crimea, with its closeness to the Black Sea where the Soviets kept a major part of their navy, as well as with its closeness to sundry natural resources, became a part of a country that was, at least on paper, independent of Russia.

Meanwhile, the West, in its endless arrogance, would be rubbing the loss of superpower influence in Russia’s face again and again.

Remember the former Yugoslavia? Russia, a natural ally with the Serbs (they have some common history), would object to the West’s handling of that country. No matter how strenuous Russia’s protests, the West would simply shrug them off, telling the Russians to keep their mouths shut. It was an adult game, minors aren’t allowed in.

Whether the West’s handling of the former Yugoslavia made any sense, now, that’s another question for another day.

What is important here is the fact that Russia felt slighted, fearing her imperial ambitions were being trumpled upon yet again.

And the Russians are nothing if not proud. Especially if they’ve been taught since their early childhoods that theirs is a world superpower. Part of their education tells them, too, that the West is a decadent, decaying society with no future whatsoever.

And the West, by the way, goes out of its way to prove the Russians right. Just look at the European Union (EU) for the closest example at hand.

Putin used exactly that in 2008. The Republic of Georgia, Stalin’s birth place, too, thought of applying for EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership. Putin came up with a reason how to show the Georgians who the boss is. Hitler would have been proud: proclaiming he was only saving the endangered lives of Russians, Putin ordered his military to invade Ossetia, a part of Georgia. That was in 2008. All the West did was an indignant”tut-tut,” without even telling Putin his move wasn’t cricket and that this is not how to really play the game.

What did it tell Putin? Not much more than what he had already known for quite some time (he used to be a Soviet spy, after all): the West is a decadent, decaying society with no future whatsoever. Did the West offer Georgia guarantees? Yes, why, it did. Did the West act on them?

And the main message: ladies and gentlemen, Russia’s back on the pitch, and it’s paying the referees’ wages, to boot.

What is it all about?

Russia bases its international relationships on the so-called zero-sum game. She has been doing so throughout most of her history, Russian politicians say. Really, she does. Since she has become a superpower centuries ago, to say the least.

Yes, she does. Whenever she’s forced to. Otherwise, whatever there is for grabs, that’s what she takes. Wherever a Russian cossack’s horse stops, it becomes Mother Russia.

Fairness? What the heck’s that?

And what is this zero-sum game, pray tell?

Here’s what it is: the theory of games holds that a zero-sum game represents mathematically a situation in which a participant’s gain (or loss) is balanced precisely by the losses (or gains) of the other participant(s). If the total gains of the participants are added up, and the total losses are subtracted, the result will be zero.

And the theory of games has got it right.

President Putin is keenly aware of Russia’s history: nothing beats having a buffer zone around your borders. That’s the entire issue of his handling of Ukraine in one sentence.

Superpowers don’t become superpowers by listening to popularity opinion polls within the international community and the public at large.

Look at EU’s behaviour: does that group behave like a superpower?

Look at the U.S. administration: does it represent its country like a superpower?

All that talk about democracy and human rights, so far as Putin is concerned, is pure drivel, to put it politely.

Putin has been saying all along he doesn’t like Ukraine’s turn toward the West.

After all, relationships with the West have been a sore point within Russia’s political life for centuries. Even if a group that favours westernization wins, it’s a Pyrrhic victory. Usually, they lose on the first occasion that comes along. The forces that say Russia can go it all alone return to power. Their motto: who needs the West anyway, we’re so much better, besides, we own the Russian soul, too, and who else can claim that?

Ochi chornye, and another sto gramm vodki, eh?

Economically speaking, if Russia becomes master of all she surveys, she’s got enough resources to remain an autarky (self-sufficient, that is) – provided she knows how to run her own business.

To be able to do so, Russia is of the view she needs nobody poking their nose into matters that are none of their business.

And that includes handling its buffer zones.

West’s sheer and abject failure

Self-conditioned to absolute stupidity by all that politically correct nonsense, the West has never realized, neither acknowledged, that the new Ukrainian government isn’t much to write home about. Not knowing these issues, the West was in absolutely no position to do anything about them, either.

And Russia’s act of showing her military prowess had to come as a shock.

Russia’s leaders remember well the historical ties that bind their country to Ukraine proper. They also know that the West’s ties to Ukraine are much weaker. Yes, Ukraine can serve as Europe’s breadbasket, as she has done so many times. Yes, the oil and gas pipelines that move these resources to Europe go mostly through Ukraine.

Where Russia’s leadership is mindful of Ukraine’s importance to their country’s strategical priorities, both in political and economic sense, the West is bellyaching. Sacré bleu! How can you be doing this to us? We’ve been so nice to you, have we not?

No, you haven’t, is Russia’s reply. Ukraine as part of the West is something we have every reason to hate. And if you have problems with THAT, congratulations, you’ve got something we haven’t.

Considering the West may wish that Ukraine become its part but isn’t willing to put their wallets where their mouths are (perhaps excepting financing the militants at Kiev’s Maidan), Putin can safely shrug them off. He knows that there is no power in the West that would be able to get Ukraine out from Russia’s bearhug. Not only that. He knows, too, that even if there were such a power, it wouldn’t have the wherewithal to try.

To top it all: it was the two strongest EU countries, Germany and France, that vetoed Ukraine’s application for NATO membership.

What does it mean? Nothing more that it’s a signal for Putin: Russians value Ukraine much more than we do, and we can hardly care less.

The West has shown it’s all wet. Since Russia is only willing to negotiate when the other side shows her a fist of iron, that does not bode well for the West.

The last two Western politicians to successfully negotiate with the then-Soviet Union were U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Neither of them would blink or budge. And where’s the Soviet Union now?

Why should Canadians care?

Lost in all that hoopla is the continuing struggle over who actually owns the area around the North Pole (and the place itself).

The fact that Santa’s address is listed in Canada Post’s books as North Pole, Canada, H0H 0H0 is a laughable aside that does not matter.

What does matter is that both countries have similar interests and both of their mainlands are in close proximity to the imaginary point.

Geologists and other such scientists claim the ocean floor is filled with natural resources, some of which come under the heading of “strategic.” Oil, for example. Natural gas, for example.

You can rest assured that – once Russian president Vladimir Putin considers the question of Ukraine settled – he’s going to turn his attention to other areas he considers vital.

The Arctic happens to be one of them. And not only because of its untapped richness. One look at the map (or globe) reveals that there’s no buffer zone between Canada and Russia in that area. Come to think of it, there is no buffer zone between Alaska and Russia, either, excepting the relatively narrow Bering Strait.

Recalling that Putin has been of the view that gifting Crimea to Ukraine was illegal, what’s going to stop him if he decides to describe the sale of Alaska by Tsarist Russia to the U.S. highway robbery and declares it illegal, too?

Canada’s government is one of the very few administrations that have been consistently trying to stand up to Putin’s shenanigans. Hats off. Whether travel bans on top Russian officials do the trick and scare Putin beyond belief is another matter altogether.

Putin has also quite openly expressed his views of U.S. president Barack Hussein Obama: the current White House occupant is nothing but an untrustworthy, unreliable weakling whose basic education deserves much better, too.

The West has excluded military reply as an option. Logically, too. At least, so far as this logic ignores the plight of ordinary living people. Nobody’s asking them.

Putin would be perfectly correct if he expands his apt description of U.S. president Obama as an untrustworthy, unreliable weakling whose basic education deserves much better to most of the West’s political leaders. In fact, come to think of it, the word leader should not apply to them, and neither should their description as politicians. They are politicking, and that doesn’t impress a Putin (or any similar dictator) one iota.

What’s Putin’s next step? Any of the Baltic republics, perhaps? That would be interesting: they are all both EU and NATO members. Expanding his might west of Ukraine, too?

There’s but one thing we know for sure: facing a dictator, Western democracies have failed yet again.

It’s a bloody shame.

The world takes Putin’s actions on the chin – and does nothing about it

Many, many years ago, in the first half of the previous century, a Dutch sea captain of Czech origin, Jan Van Toch, anchored his ship by a small island somewhere in the Pacific. His company ordered him to find areas where they could get some original pearls. These jewels were coming back into fashion, you see. And Van Toch’s Rotterdam bosses wanted to ride the wave, enhancing their own bank accounts in the process.

The good Captain found, to his genuine surprise, animals whom the natives feared and called black devils. They were intelligent newts. Captain Van Toch befriended them, gave them all kinds of equipment, including underwater guns so they could defend themselves against the local shark population, and convinced a captain of Czech economy who, accidentally, had been born in the same little town as Jan Van Toch, that this could become a business venture.

It did. Thus Czech author Karel Čapek. That, by the way, is the guy who gave the world the word “robot.” But that’s another story for another day.

Čapek wrote and published (in 1936) War with the Newts (Válka s mloky in the original Czech). It was also translated as War with the Salamanders.

This satirical science-fiction novel describes how modern industrialists first enslaved and exploited the newts, until the creatures acquired human knowledge and rebelled. They needed more shores for themselves. So, they started destroying the continents, enlarging the world’s oceans and thus creating more space in which they could live.

If it resembles Adolf Hitler’s demand for “Lebensraum” (space to live in) for the German nation by any chance, it is no accident.

The conflict between the humans and the newts led to a global war for supremacy.

As the war progressed, the author introduced an anonymous voice, known as Mr. X, who told humankind it was perfectly insane to continue developing and delivering all kinds of weapons and sundry equipment to the newts who were, all along, continuing with their operation to destroy that same humankind. Mr. X called on people to stop this. His call was met with derision: economists, politicians, labour union leaders, they all said humankind had never had it better, employment figures were reaching 100 per cent, in fact, people would need more workers to meet all the orders coming from under-the-sea level, and who was this Mr. X anyway to try to stop progress.

If you want to know how it all ended, run to your local library or a bookstore.

Cut to the chase

We are in the twenty-first century now, and the world keeps supplying another Hitler, one who goes under the name of Vladimir Putin, and is also known as the president of Russia. Putin’s Russia is getting all kinds of sophisticated weaponry, and the European Union goes on without stopping but once to think how suicidal this is.

Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas, writing for an Estonian web publication, ICDS (the abbreviation stands for International Centre for Defence Studies), of Tallin, that country’s capital, have exposed the world’s dark secret.

Before we proceed, a tip of the hat is due to Jan Maisler for a competent translation, and to Jiří Wagner, editor of the Czech news site, Neviditelny pes, for preparing this information jewel for publication.

If you don’t speak Czech, learn to. You would be able to read the story quoted from below in its fullness. And if knowing the language of the people who gave the world such beers as Pilsner Urquell and the original Budweiser (not the weak imitations as provided by Anheuser-Busch) is not important to you, where are your values, for crying out loud?

Back to the topic

The European Union (EU, for short, and it doesn’t deserve anything more, anyhow), says it’s upset about the Russian aggression in Ukraine and it’s going to impose sanctions.

Oh yeah? That’s the question posed by Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas.

How about weapons exports to Russia? And – more importantly, perhaps – how about the close co-operation between some EU countries and Russia, developing new weapon systems and transferring military technologies and expertise to Russia?

Strangely enough, most mainstream media all over the world keep their mouths shut when it comes to this topic.

But why?

Is it because speaking out would equal washing dirty linen in public? Is it because putting a stop to this shameful behaviour would (let’s go back to Čapek) slow down or, Heaven forbid, stop the flow of income that happens to turn into profit at a later stage? Is it because mainstream media never got a press release detailing these shenanigans?

Realizing that modern-day reporters seem to have never heard that what makes a reporter is curiosity, this could be as valid a reason as any.

Or is it hypocrisy, pure and simple?

A few years ago, Russia invaded Georgia. The reason, Putin said on the occasion, was to defend the poor, defenceless Russians in Ossetia (sounds familiar, does it not?). Shortly after that, Russia signed a deal with France. It would buy from the French amphibious vehicles of the Mistral class (a.k.a. “projection and command” vehicles). The Baltic republics, all of whom had known Soviet occupation, objected. The EU called their reaction “hysterical” and worse.

That, Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas write, was a clear signal: who cares about Russia’s aggressive behaviour, so long as France’s military economy prospers? It may even fill French government’s coffers with new taxes. So, what’s the big deal?

Everybody’s happy: Russia has got new killer toys to use in its future aggressions, France gets richer. What’s there to complain about?

Remember the Iraqi nuclear facility, Osirak? It used to be called by many “Ochirac,” after then-French president Jacques Chirac who allowed the transfer of his country’s sophisticated nuclear knowledge (and the training of Iraqi scientists in his country) despite clear warnings that something dirty was going on. In a daring air attack, the Israelis would obliterate the place, thus earning eternal hatred from France.

So, what’s new? Nothing much, really.

As Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas inform us, the Franco-Russian military co-operation now includes the development of a new generation of vehicles for the transport of Russia’s infantry, the development of a production line for building thermovision, equipment that would allow the Russian military to operate in the middle of the night, as well as a number of other similar projects. Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas also quote Dmitrii Rogozin, Russia’s vice-premier responsible for defence (read: military) industries, as saying that the two countries have launched a “new era of intensive Franco-Russian co-operation that includes intensive exchange of confidential information.”

God knows where all that is going to end. And if She knows, She’s not telling: it’s confidential information, after all.

Deutschland, Deutschland über alles

Since the EU includes two major weapons exporters (France and Germany), it was to be expected that the Germans would not be far behind their French brethren.

Germany’s Federal Security Council (Bundessicherheitsrat in German) is chaired by the country’s Chancellor herself (her office is equal to Canada’s Prime Minister, with the President serving as a figure-head, just as the Governor-General does in Canada). It has been issuing export licences for weapon sales like nobody’s business. Russia has been quickly making its way to the top of the list of countries that deserve getting Germany’s military technology.

One of the most alarming recent German sales to Russia: modern equipment to train units up to the size of a brigade. That, Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas document, happens to be first-class equipment to run an operations command post. Thus far, it has been available only to the most developed countries. Whether Russia is one of the most-developed countries remains to be seen, but it now has this equipment.

In fact, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has developed a doctrine that basically gives her country’s military industry a free hand. Thus Merkel: “I am convinced that it is in our interest to enable our partners to effectively participate in keeping or renewing security and peace in their regions.”

Which means that if Putin says that Russians in Ossetia or Ukraine (or anywhere else, for that matter) are in danger and he only wants is to ensure their safety and security, his word is gospel.

Konrad Henlein used this refrain in the Sudetenland regions of former Czechoslovakia, with Adolf Hitler’s enthusiastic support. It ended in a deal (the so-called Munich Agreement) signed by British Prime Minister Sir Neville Chamberlain, French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier, Italy’s Duce (Leader) Benito Mussolini and Germany’s Reichskanzler (Chancellor) Adolf Hitler.

Sir Neville Chamberlain returned to London, telling all and sundry he had secured “peace in our time.”

Indeed. We all know how it ended.

Lying through their teeth

The EU politicians claim that if they co-operate with Russia, they would have a say in what that country is doing.

A bald-faced lie if there ever was one, and they know it.

Vladimir Putin is much more realistic. He knows that, beside some tut-tutting that followed his incursion into Georgia, nothing happened and everything was business as usual even before the dust settled. So, he figures, and quite correctly, too, that if he annexes the entire country of Ukraine, not just Crimea, he’ll pass jail and will be free to buy, say, Pennsylvania Station, to use the language of the game of Monopoly.

Why Pennsylvania Station? Just a play on words: Putin received a phone call from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the other day. The U.S. president himself, Barack Obama was on the line. They chatted for about an hour after which Putin told Obama he had other, more pressing, commitments to attend to and bid good-bye.

Would Putin change anything, pray tell, after this conversation? Are you kidding? Why should he? What can a president whom he considers a perfect weakling do to him? And besides, all of his military’s supply needs are met, courtesy France and Germany, so, who cares about the U.S., anyway?

So, Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas pose a legitimate question: who’s influencing whom, come to think of it? It’s obvious the EU (and the rest of the Western world) have practically no impact on Putin’s thinking and actions with whatever rhetoric they dare mouth. And not that the EU overextends itself in its condemnations of Russia’s aggressions, either. In fact, it seems that Canada is the only country willing to take at least some action, symbolic as it is. Expelling Russian military personnel and limiting Russian officials’ right of entry is nice, but if Putin had feathers, none of them would be ruffled.

What can be done?

Not much, really, if we decide to subscribe to what today’s Western politicians (and those of the EU in particular) call realpolitik.

Impose sanctions? To be effective, they would have to include all matters military, including an immediate stop to all military sales and knowledge transfers.

Is this going to happen? A rhetorical question.

EU politicians would tell you they haven’t got enough money to maintain their military and, besides, NATO isn’t that rich of an uncle as it used to be any longer, either. Pray tell, they would demand, where else are we going to get the finances to maintain our own defence? We’re taxing our own citizens beyond acceptable levels as it is.

Here’s a logical follow-up question: maintaining your defence means that you’re defending your sovereignty. Except, it seems everything the EU stands for is dismantling individual (and sovereign) European countries. So, how can you explain that contradiction?

Here’s the answer you’d get: silence. Overwhelmingly deafening silence.

The crux of the matter is that to maintain their military, EU countries are supporting someone who’s getting more and more aggressive. Putin relies on the shortsightedness of EU politicians because he knows he can.

To sum up: EU politicians are undermining their own security while helping a new Hitler along the way. In addition, some of the countries that have common borders with Russia (including some EU members) will lose their faith in EU’s ability to defend them against somebody who’s got that same military hardware (and software) as EU has. Where they will go to get their own weaponry is anybody’s guess. China? Korea? South Africa? Israel?

And where’s the U.S. on this list? you may ask. Nowhere is the answer. The Europeans mostly seem to share Putin’s assessment of America’s current administration. That’s one of the very few things they share with him.

Meanwhile, Putin will continue to test EU’s policy of appeasement and profit. It’s going to be his gain and, eventually, his trump card.

If you start digging a hole, you should stop digging once you’re inside, Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas say.

The question is: do the French and the Germans realize they’ve dug a hole that now has not only them, but their alleged EU allies inside, too?

Where is Karel Čapek’s Mr. X now when we need him?

And would we wake up and start listening to him?

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