Brussels Journal has recently taken note of the trap that is being set for Central Europe and the Batic countries by the Baltic Sea pipeline. The new pipeline will bypass the central and eastern parts of Europe by going through the Baltic on the way to Germany and eventually Britain.
By this means the Russians will be able to express their displeasure with Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and the other small countries of Central Europe which are not “team players”, and do it without harming their “co-operative partners” in Germany and France. With one hand firmly gripping the nether parts of the former Iron Curtain countries, and the other controlling the spigot of prosperity for the EU, Russia won’t need armies and submarines to enforce its will on Europe.
A married couple in Swden sent us the following article from Expressen. Eva F-R is the translator, and her husband writes to explain their situation:
We live in central Sweden in a town of approximately 44,998 socialists and two conservatives. As to the ratio noted, we do not feel outnumbered — in fact, we sometimes feel sorry for the “others”. When we are invited to a dinner party, we often get a quiet word from the host or hostess that we should refrain from political discussion. Inevitably, someone will say the wrong words, Eva and I will smile, and the battle is joined.
The article was on page 4 of Expressen, Friday, December 1, 2006:
Kristian Gerner encourages Carl Bildt to adopt a new politics:
Prepare for a Russia on its way to fascism
- Russia has built up a strong foreign economic basis at full speed
- However, there are worrying signs such as the murders of critics to the regime. In the worst case Russia is on its way to be a fascist dictatorship
- That’s what Professor KRISTIAN GERNER writes in Expressen Dec 1, 2006
- Sweden has a policy based on the perceived fact that there is no security political threat from Russia. That stance is no longer tenable. “There is a need for a new Swedish defense policy/politics aimed at defending the country.”
“There is an historical concept for what Russia now seems to be on its way towards — a word that covers paranoia and self-sufficiency, the lawlessness, authoritarian wielding of power, populism, intolerance and economic and political nationalism that characterizes the Putin regime”, wrote The Economist shortly after the murder of Anna Politkovskaja. The analysis of the development of Russia ended with the reflection: “Russia isn’t there yet, but sometimes it seems that Russia is on its way to fascism”.
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The word “fascism” is sometimes used as a general and meaningless insult. But when The Economist uses the word, it is in the context of an analytical concept, the name of a societal system. The lack of rule of law and direct lawlessness is a prominent trait of a society on its way to fascism. This manifests itself on one hand in physical violence against real or imagined adversaries to the regime such as journalists and businessmen and on the other hand in harassment of independent organizations for the protection of human rights and those that fight against the destruction of the environment.
It is probably Russian actors who are behind the murders of Anna Politkovskaja and of another ten journalists in Russia over the past few years and the poisoning of the former FSB-agent Litvinenko in London. If the regime is behind this, that is the kind of terror that The Economist is referring to as a tendency to fascist power wielding.
If, however, domestic opponents to the regime are behind all of this, the Russian society is in a situation where the political violence is not under control. This could be the preliminary state of a seizure of power with fascist overtones.
The traditional picture of the Soviet threat was military. Under Putin, the Russian foreign economic policy has come to be regarded as a threat by several neighbor states. The question about the gas pipelines through the Baltic sea is well known. Added to this picture is the Russian policy against the former Soviet states such as Ukraine, White Russia, Moldavia, Armenia, and Georgia, and against states in the old Soviet bloc such as Poland, Rumania, Hungary, and Bulgaria. Lukoil has bought two refineries in Bulgaria and Rumania, and a Hungarian energy company and has entered into a co-operation agreement with Gazprom. In Armenia, White Russia and Ukraine, the Russian policy is now aiming to take control over the distribution of gas and oil. Russian companies have bought shares in a steelworks in Vitkovice in the Czech Republic, in the Italian Luccini Group and in Rouge Steel Industries and Oregon steel mills in the U.S.A., as well as in the tire manufacturer Vredestein in The Netherlands, and a mobile telephone company Turkcell in Turkey. The Russian telephone company Sistema is now trying to obtain shares in the German Telekom in order to be in a position of power.
Rumania’s president, Trajan Basescu, is of the opinion that Gazprom is more important as a strategic weapon to the Kremlin than the former Soviet army. Other observers state that Gazprom is behaving like a second Russian foreign ministry.
A state that is in the process of obtaining a huge influence over the energy market in Europe can become a fascist dictatorship. However, the threat can be countered. Sweden’s foreign minister, Carl Bildt, who has excellent contacts in Russia, both can and should take the initiative to an EU policy that in all possible ways gives support to independent organizations in Russia that are working to protect and promote human rights and safeguard environmental interests. This course must be combined with a well-thought-through economic and political strategy that will prevent a huge Russian influence over the energy sector, the manufacturing industries, and tele-communications in Europe.
No reference to history is needed to paint the picture of a Russian threat. The Putin regime’s polices within the sectors of freedom of speech, freedom of association, and human rights towards small neighbor states, such as Georgia and Moldavia, and in regards to economic and foreign policy, are sufficient enough as an argument.
Naturally, the question of a Russian military threat against the world remains. President Putin and his closest men with the foreign minister Sergej Lavrov at the head are thinking in terms of geopolitical and military capability. On the 10th of May this year, Putin explained in a speech to the Federation Council that Russia must have military capability to act at the same time in global, regional, and several local conflicts and that the Russian defense budget will increase between ten and fifteen percent per year. On the 16th of November, Putin informed his defense service chiefs that Russia must keep its preparedness to use nuclear weapons. He also promised to make sure that the officers received better housing and higher salaries.
There is no organized political opposition. The only opposition we can discern is from groups who want to have an even more brutal domestic and foreign policy. The political leadership in the Baltic states and Poland are, to say the least, worried about the Russian threat. However, these states have the security guarantee that they are members of NATO. The Swedish government ought to consider that Russia’s military build-up and economical foreign policy has created a situation where Sweden no longer can persevere in a policy that is based on the absence of a security threat from Russia. A new Swedish defense policy geared to defending the country is needed. And if Carl Bildt and the Reinfeldt government do not place on the agenda the question of Sweden’s NATO membership, then the opposition should do it.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Written by Kristian Gerner, Professor in History at University of Lund, Sweden. (A comment under his photo: “He is hoping that the Russian darkness will not turn into the total darkness of night, but instead turn into a new dawn. His hope is for a Gorbachev II.”)
Hat tip for Brussels Journal: Swedish reader LN.
I fear that when the last moment of opportunity comes to strike against a pre-nuclear Iran, we will find this no-so-unfamiliar uglier Russia standing as a menacing older brother firmly behind Tehran.
So much easier to do today what will be so much bloodier tomorrow– but who can blame the somnambulant American? After all, there is so much shopping to do before the 25th…
It feels like 1938 and it has for almost a year now. If Ahmadinejad is Hitler, then Putin is Stalin and the only sort of new twist is China – it is indeed a scary world, and I think I will go back to sleep if I can!
Ummm….why the presumption that it must be us Americans that have to strike Tehran’s nuclear sites? What of the French and the British, after all, they too are nuclear powers and are one heck of a lot closer to Tehran that we are both in terms of strike capability and being struck at by Iran!
Because the French and British are just as dependent on Russian oil/gas as the rest of Europe.
Because the French and British believe in appeasement rather than decisive action.
Because the French and British believe in “peace in our time” redux.
heroic dreamer, I share the same sentiments as you. It definitely feels like 1938. Deja woe.
The Paranoid Style in Russian Politics
… one [struggles to] comprehend the sense of grievance that almost all Russians feel at the loss of Great Power status. That trauma burns even deeper among Russia’s rulers, where it has generated a powerful and persistent psychological complex. For them, America and the West remain the ultimate enemy. Descartes famously said, “I think, therefore I am.” Russia’s rulers appear to live by the credo, “I resist America, therefore I am great.”
this morbid logic is a perfect reflection of the paranoid vision that has taken hold in the Kremlin.
But what if these people get their wishes, and NATO collapses and Islamists triumph? Who then will stop their advance towards Russia’s southern borders from Afghanistan and Central Asia? The problem with diplomatic paranoia is not that someone is after you, but that you are unable to tell the difference between a real enemy and an imagined one.
Joel Rosenberg had an excellent article on Putin called, “Who Is Putin?”
I highly recommend everyone read it.
It was just last week at
Everything talks for the Kristian Gerner’s conclusion. Sweden and Finland (where I come from) should finally understand that neurality is not the solution.
Nato is much more benefitial for us than EU.
In Finland we have the problem that our president and foreign minister are left-wing socialists which are even worse idealists than any marxist ever. The foreign minister is a pacifist.
They have difficulties even understanding that we have to protect against Russia – the only way really is to join Nato as the baltic countries. The baltic countries are in every respect more realistic than Sweden and Finland. Then there is ofcource the political correctness and in Finland the finlandization which prevent an analysis on Russia, multiculturalism and race.
Q. Can you name a nation to have defeated an Islamic insurgency?
Until 2005 Ukraine was purchasing gas at about 25% of market prices, this was a legacy contract of the bad old USSR. Then the Orange Revolution happened and the revolutionaries tore away from the apron strings of mother Russia and tore up the contract (which had another 4 years to run). Perhaps they were thinking Esso/Exxon/BP/Shell would give them a 75% rebate on gas now that they were so Westernized, that did not happen of course.
As the last gas purchased under the old pricing was delivered negotiations began to get a new contract. The Russians wanted market pricing, the Ukrainians refused. The Ukranians started stealing the gas that was being transhipped across Ukraine that they were being paid to tranship, Russia shut off the gas.
Morals of story: if you steal from someone you will be punished and when a country stops acting like a woolly woofter socialist and starts practicing market economics the MSM squeals blue murder.
Similar pricing arrangements exist with the Baltic states and Poland. These are going to expire in the next 3 – 4 years. Baltic pipeline to Germany should be ready by then.
“It is probably Russian actors who are behind the murders of Anna Politkovskaja and of another ten journalists in Russia over the past few years and the poisoning of the former FSB-agent Litvinenko in London. If the regime is behind this, that is the kind of terror that The Economist is referring to as a tendency to fascist power wielding.
If, however, domestic opponents to the regime are behind all of this, the Russian society is in a situation where the political violence is not under control. This could be the preliminary state of a seizure of power with fascist overtones.”
So if the Russian governement is responisble it’s fascism and if it isn’t responsible it’s fascism? The words such as “lost” and “plot” come to mind when one reads a paragraph like this.
There is other nonsense in this so-called analysis but this one wins hands down.
BTW, western energy and telecommunications companies have been and still are buying their counterparts in eastern Europe. Back then it was not excercising political influence on others. But now that the Russian companies are doing the same the “pundits” and “experts” are crying foul.