The Daily Mail
published an article which states that an Ukrainian victory over the ruling Moscow agents brings death to Putin's Russia. The newspaper notes
- This is not merely a matter of internal Ukrainian politics. The battle for Kiev also symbolises Russia’s latest — and most audacious — bid to regain a hold over its former empire.
Vladimir Putin, the ex-KGB hard man in the Kremlin, has muzzled his own country’s media, cowed its courts and turned its political institutions into shells. And now he wants more. The countries of the former empire must do things Russia’s way, too.
One great danger now is that the crackdown succeeds in Ukraine, and that its military forces effectively become integrated with Russia’s resurgent army. That would put the Kremlin’s advanced weapons within striking distance of Central Europe, and of vital European trade routes such as the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul, which links Europe and Asia.
But to feel truly safe at home, the Kremlin also needs to feel safe abroad. Russians joke that the definition of a secure frontier is one with Russian troops on both sides. As Ukrainians’ dreams of democracy and independence begin to perish in the blood-stained snows of Kiev, that prospect is coming closer by the day.
For Vladimir Putin wants to entrench his rule not only in Russia but in neighbouring countries with a new Eurasian Economic Union. Its name even apes that of the EU. But in Putin’s planned union, the Kremlin’s word will rule. He will deal not with ordinary voters but with men like Ukraine’s Yanukovych, or the strongman leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, another friend of the Kremlin. With the right mixture of threats and inducements, such men will do his will.
And Putin will not stop at Ukraine. Step by step, Russia is using the cudgel of its vast energy resources to restore power and influence in the lands it once ruled by force. And the West seems powerless to resist. Already, NATO can scarcely defend the brave but beleaguered allies we have in the area: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
And Russia and its satellite Belarus regularly rehearse plans for the invasion and occupation of these Baltic countries. Russia’s forces have even practised a nuclear attack on Warsaw.
The bitter irony is that the EU has huge powers to resist Russia — if it chooses to use them. It’s humbled giant corporations such as Microsoft for mistreating European consumers, imposing huge fines when it considered the company was abusing its market position.
It must do the same with Gazprom, Russia’s gas company, which throttles countries that resist the Kremlin by extorting high prices for gas sent over its monopolised pipelines. A ‘complaint’ — EU jargon for a prosecution — is imminent. It could lead to billions of dollars in fines for the Russian gas giant. Britain and other countries should applaud that — and ensure that the pro-Russian lobby in Brussels does not try to derail it.
Yet we could impose sanctions on Yanukovych and his henchmen, many of whom run murky business empires at home while also swanning around in luxury and respectability in London. Investigations of their finances, and a ban on their families gaining visas to the West, would send a powerful signal.
Department of Monitoring