Coffee House

The challenge of challenging Putin

3 March 2014

How does the West challenge Vladimir Putin? James explained in his blog earlier that it is essential that the Russian president is challenged. But this evening’s snap by the ever-watchful Steve Back of a government document stating that the UK ‘should not support for now trade sanctions… or close London’s financial centre to Russians’ shows the difficulty countries including Britain will have in doing that challenging. The UK worries about the impact of sanctions on London, which as the ‘capital city of the world’, has an interest in keeping its doors open to Russian money. Meanwhile, as a country that relies so much on Russian gas and oil, Germany worries about the impact on its own supplies of any sanctions. It’s why ministers prefer to talk about the need to ‘de-escalate’ the crisis and only refer vaguely to the ‘costs’ for Putin in not respecting the sovereignty of Ukraine.

So what can the world do? Cancel the G8 summit, or kick Putin out of the G8 altogether? And does he care about that anyway? Ministers are clearly keen to find a ‘cost’ for Russia that doesn’t cost their own countries dear too, but they also need to find something that truly challenges Putin.

UPDATE, 21.30: David Cameron has spoken to Angela Merkel and François Hollande this evening. Here is the Number 10 readout of the call:

‘The PM spoke separately to both Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande this evening to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

‘In both calls, the leaders agreed that the international community should speak with one voice and send a clear message to Russia that its actions in Ukraine were completely unacceptable.  They agreed they must continue to work very closely together in response to events in Ukraine including in preparation for the special European Council which has been called on Thursday. It would be important to be clear about the costs and consequences for the Russian Government of continuing to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty; and of supporting the people and Government of Ukraine in support of their efforts to build an inclusive Government and tackle economic challenges.

‘They agreed there could be an important role for the United Nations, and potentially other international organisations, in facilitating the dialogue between the Russian and Ukrainian authorities which is central to the shared objective of de-escalating tensions in the region.’

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Show comments
  • Tom Tom

    Putin is right to defend Russia from Western imperialism. Gorbachev made genuine offers to build a “Common European Home” but the USSA feared losing control of Europe and used NATO expansion to subsume the EU and make it just another US cutout. The USSA wants to push the Russian fleet out of Crimea and Tartus and have hegemony in the Middle East, Central Asia and block China.

    These are the moves that led to WW1 when Britain joined an alliance to encircle Germany as Russia took slices of the Ottoman empire and Austro-Hungarian zones of influence.

    There is no doubt China and Russia are being sized up for attack so the USSA can entrench a global empire with total surveillance – a Brave New World of GM crops, total surveillance, abolition of nation states and the Rule of Corpocracy

    • BarkingAtTreehuggers

      …which is why the idea of European Independence will ultimately catch on. In many places it already has.

  • Lady Magdalene

    Perhaps Cameron will decide send Russia a few borrowed £millions in International Welfare. He seems to think that works with other despotic regimes.

    • Tom Tom

      Despotic ? It is the regime in Kiev that was not elected

  • Roy

    Is this another case of not learning from history? Are we allowing one demon to take the place of another? Without the courage to stand, the shackles start to form in our minds eye.

  • Jez

    This has so many unique shockers for the liberal mafia that it’s stunning.

    Channel 4’s coverage tonight was a case in point, cuddly liberal Westerner types interviewed in Kiev- and an insinuation that there really wasn’t any Russian support in the East. Why don’t they do a few Interviews in Kharkov or Donetsk then?

    The BBC news has now resorted to drawing on Stalins purges against the Tartars to shore up their angle- if it gets any more none agenda friendly we may even hear about the Holodomor soon.

    The decent people of the Ukraine are really not in the best of positions (not the one’s beating Russian officials live on TV, desecrating war memorials, suggesting they re-open their nuclear weapons programme, banning Russian language thus socially isolating 8.5 Million people and making the police beg for mercy on stage in front of thousands to name a couple of examples)

    The media approach is the usual. Pick one side, denigrate and undermine the other no matter what the evidence until the bombs come.

    This probably isn’t going to happen this time.

    A genuine & just cause by the original protesters for an end to corruption and a future worth striving for, has been utterly obliterated by a Western political elite (in many cases not even elected) that have utterly mismanaged this situation.

    They could not have insulted, demeaned and attempted to humiliate the Russian people & Government anymore if they’d have really tried to do so from the very start.

    This as an opinion.

  • In2minds

    Challenge? How daft! Can you imagine Putin agreeing to a policy that would cause floods like the one in Somerset?

  • Noa

    Challenging Putin?
    Is this an informed way in which to consider Britain’s correct position and response in this situation?
    It is worryingly clear that Downing Street and the FCO have less of an understanding than is healthy for our national interest, which is reflected is the relatively impoverished standard of journalistic analysis in the media. The following blog by Hitchens is at least a good intial corrective from much of the current bombast.

    • Tom Tom

      They get their instructions to do an Horatio Bottomley and his rag “John Bull”

  • London Calling

    You can’t challenge someone like Putin. sanctions or otherwise. Putin knows no military action will proceed his own, therefore as I said earlier the west is impotent to act…………….what happens next will spell it all out…..:(

  • McRobbie

    I’m afraid the only challenge can come from his own people, particularly those who he wants to take over as his own people. The Ukraine must act with determination and restraint to show the world and putin they want their right to rule their own country.. It is clear putin will present his own version of what is happening that has no relationship to reality, anything to give him an excuse to bully and intimidate. Dont understand why as there is no reason why a wiser man than putin could not benefit better from having a doorway to the west that was sympathetic to russia. Unfortunately that does not seem to be a “manly” way forward for the bare chested macho man.

    • Tom Tom

      Ukraine is run by paramilitaries intimidating opposition and keeping half the MPs away from the Rada as they pass unconstitutional edicts………it is a coup d’etat

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