In the far-flung days of yore when nationalist or racial jokes were still highly regarded, I remember one which we enjoyed as 10-year old school boys in the 1960s. The nation we loved to make jokes about at that time were not the Irish who were still peaceful, but the Italians. The one that sticks in my mind went like this –
Have you heard about the new Italian tank? It has five reverse gears and one forward gear, in case the enemy attacks from behind.
I don’t know if Russians have jokes very much – well they do actually often about the corrupt and inefficient ways of their own state bureaucracies – but if they were to think of one today about foreigners, it must surely be along the same lines as we used to laugh at the Italians, but instead about the EU, or the UN.
Putin has spent months indicating that he won’t sit idly by while NATO attempts further expansion into Georgia and the Ukraine, and nor will he accede to the idea of an EU controlled Kosovo imposed on Serbia. He has not threatened war directly, but he has spoken of sending a military force on a ‘humanitarian mission’ to help Serbs in Kosovo if the situation were to deteriorate there, and he, in similar vein sends ‘peace-keeping troops’ into Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The hollowness of the advances of the EU into Kosovo, now delayed indefinitely, and the promises of the Americans to support Georgia, are now being exposed. Russians will not shy away from incurring military casualties in any confrontation with the West in its former sphere of influence. The EU on the other hand, is composed almost entirely of countries that show no interest at all in sending troops into harm’s way, even in the prosecution of a war such as Afghanistan, while the Americans are already stretched to the limit in maintaining current operations. Putin can safely raise the military temperature in all confrontations such as Kosovo or Georgia and know that he is assured of a climbdown by America or Brussels.
It demonstrates the folly and arrogance of the EU, aspiring to hold sway over a large part of the world’s territory and economy, but showing an almost total unwillingness to commit any military forces to back up its political ambitions. The Americans are puzzled by European hopelessness, and assume it is only a temporary phenomenon which will self correct before long. Putin is far nearer the mark, seeing the Europeans as pathetically weak.
The problem will be that Putin will so easily get away with his ‘peace-keeping and humanitarian’ manoeuvres in Georgia and Kosovo, humiliate the EU and the Americans, which will only encourage further moves from him.
If only Bush and the EU had decided to accept his offers of no further inroads being made into the Russian sphere of influence. Putin would have made a good ally for America in the Middle East. A resurgent and militarily confident Russia, on the other hand could now prove to be a thorn in the side for Europe for years to come, much as it pleases me though to see the EU humiliated and start to get its come-uppance.
See the reports of the Georgian conflict in Russia Today HERE
And latest Putin comments on Kosovo on April 29th.
April 29, 2008 3:32 PM
MOSCOW, Apr 29, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) — Russia’s outgoing President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Russia has not changed its position on the Kosovo situation and still views Kosovo’s independence unacceptable.
“We think that the unilateral declaration and recognition of independent Kosovo are unfair and illegal. We cannot accept the opinion that independent Kosovo has simply come to exist,” Putin told a press conference after talks with Greek Prime Minister Konstandinos Karamanlis.
If certain members of the international community “had not supplied weapons to the conflict zone and had not promised them independence, that would not have happened,” Putin said.
The president also called for the fulfillment of international laws, saying “only in that case small and big states will feel secure.”