Dominic Lawson in the Mail has an excellent article pointing out that Russia, despite its vast size and noble history, is in fact a basket case.
Totally dependent on Oil & Gas revenues (at collapsing prices) for foreign exchange and hopelessly corrupt and mismanaged at home, the results are shocking as described by:
Sunday Times reporter Matthew Campbell in January, when he travelled to the southern Urals:
‘I have only witnessed impoverishment like this before when reporting civil wars in West Africa and Latin America.
Here, the miserable conditions are intensified by industrial squalor and the brutal Russian winter. Even in the tumultuous years after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 I did not see poverty like this.’
As they demonstrated so magnificently during the second world war the Russian people have depths of stoicism unimaginable to softer folk (like us). However even they will have a limit, and when the tipping point is reached life will become very difficult for Mr Putin and his oligarch mates.
Hence Lawson’s totally plausible theory that this killing is a bit of typically ruthless KGB-style political theatre to occupy the front pages and the TV news up to the forthcoming election.
So far so good. The alarming part for this blog is the reaction of PM Mrs May, exemplified by an idiotic article in the Telegraph by William Hague, not so long ago HM Secretary of State for Foreign, which is itself a pretty alarming state of affairs.
The slumbering West will have to wake up. If we allow a totalitarian society to jump ahead of us in new technology by the middle of the century, our way of life will be in deep trouble
Hague is right to point out that weakening the west’s defences so dramatically since the end of the Cold War has been a mistake, but one that has been obvious for long enough, and was certainly so when he was a bit less irelevant and in a position to do something about it.
May herself seems to be girding her loins (pass the mindbleach!) for some sort of showdown with Russia about this.
It is impossible to avoid the notion that all this sabre rattling is designed to take attention away from the manifest failings of her Brexit strategy in which she has systematically ceded on every single point made by Bruscles. And to conclude from this exercise of trying (and failing) to look like Mrs Thatcher during the Falklands, that May has no intention of changing course and will continue to concede everything she is asked to.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has expressed frustration at British demands over the transition deal but recent signs are that the UK will cave on the major points of disagreement.
Sometimes the depths of one’s contempt is difficult to put into words.