Moscow does not give up easily. The President had a long bridge built to join Russia to the Crimea and then apparently drives a large lorry from one side to the other. Perhaps Britain’s Prime Minister can score a second by finally building the new railway connecting north and south of England and then drive the train? Mr Putin’s drive is a measure of his commitment to keeping the Crimea in Russian hands. So what Russia takes by force, it expects to keep by force. This is a grand display of resolute determination.
On the other hand, Russia acts as though it has done nothing wrong and therefore all the fuss engendered by land seizure from Ukraine in breach of its undertakings is stuff and nonsense. This willful display of delusion is equally apparent in its attitude to NATO. NATO is apparently always on the verge of splitting, a theme recurrent from the time it became a standing alliance in 1950. So wedge-driving, or exploiting inter-imperialist contradictions as it used to be known, has gone on longer than one cares to remember as an exercise in futility.
Currently the Russian security establishment is not only trying to build secret intelligence links with Turkey (svr.gov.ru). It is also speculating that the European Union is going to stand up to American pressure on the deal (not a treaty) made by former President Obama that allows Iran currently to develop missiles at will and redevelop nuclear weapons in a few years’ time. In return Teheran received all the money stashed away in American accounts by the Shah and his minions back in 1978-1979. So Hezbulla never has to worry about paying its bills.
But how exactly can the EU stand up to the United States? It can issue reprimands and it can say that it will abide by the terms of the non-treaty. But it will not change anything because the United States will cut off at the knees any company that does business with Iran. Wolfgang Ischinger, the best Foreign Minister Germany never had, and its former ambassador to Washington DC and London, pointed out very recently in an interview that whatever statesmen in Europe say, it will not alter the realities determining the decisions made by the private sector; even such titans as the French oil company Total.
The ludicrous suggestion by Luxembourg’s finest, Mr Juncker, at the head of the EU Commission, that the EU should become a great Power scarcely solves the problem. At least now, some of the harder heads in Moscow recognise that such dreams are unlikely to be fulfilled in the near future (“Smozhet li Evrosoyuz ustoyat’ pod naporom SShA”, Vzglyad’ ru, 17 May 2018). NATO trundles along. Vaska the cat listens, but goes on eating.