Reuters reports this afternoon that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, speaking of the Russian takeover of Crimea and potential trade sanctions on Russia, said today “Russia has a lot more to lose in the medium term than the West, than Europe or the United States.”
That sounds very scary. I am sure Putin is getting very worried.
Schäuble, worrying about Ukraine being rather corrupt itself but now realizing that Europe must help it financially, also indicated that “The government in Kiev and the donors would have to set up appropriate structures ‘so that the money goes where it is needed and does not end up in some obscure pot’.”
That’s for sure.
Reuters also reports that the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is also making threatening noises: “Russia has an economy that is highly focused on oil and gas. It is not diversified. The growth rate has come down considerably in the last few years. If it came to putting in place sanctions, that would hurt Russia considerably.”
Maybe it would. If North American oil was flowing freely around the world (it’s not of course), and if North American gas was exportable (which would require Liquified Natural Gas terminals at both ends, and they don’t exist) then just maybe this would be true.
Or if Europe was open to trying fracking itself it might find its own natural gas. That won’t happen anytime soon, given the strength of the Green parties in Europe.
They sound very unconvincing. I am even less impressed by European leaders’ collective sense when I read just yesterday that, despite the increasingly unhinged behaviour of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan:
Foreign [read: Western] leaders have always been very careful and kind during Gül’s official visits, but the ones in 2011 in the United Kingdom and Sweden were particularly remarkable. During those visits, Gül’s interlocutors told him they strongly supported Turkey’s bid to join the European Union and that they cherished the cooperation between their respective countries and Turkey.
Today’s latest report on PM Erdoğan:
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has escalated his salvo against the “double standards” of Twitter, while also defiantly warning Facebook and YouTube to “obey Turkish laws.”
“Twitter obeys the American Constitution, British, German, Chinese, and Russian [laws]. But when it comes to Ukraine, when it comes to Egypt, when it comes to Turkey, it speaks about freedom,” Erdoğan said during a massive electoral rally in Istanbul March 23.
“We are not a third world country. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube should respect the Turkish Constitution and obey Turkish laws,” he said, to the cheers of hundreds of thousands of Justice and Development (AKP) supporters in a brand new giant rally area in Yenikapı, constructed by filling the Marmara Sea.
The man is crazy. And so are his many, many supporters. And so are Europe’s leaders.