Western powers in deep trouble

THE PEOPLE of Crimea last week voted by 95.5 per cent to secede from Ukraine and seek reunion with Russia in a poll that was properly conducted according to international law.

But the leaders of western imperialism have been venting their fury, accusing Russia of forcing the Crimeans to vote at gunpoint and of “annexing” Crimea. The news footage from Crimea shows the people out on the streets elated to be free from the regime of the fascist gangs who have taken control of Kiev through a western backed military coup carried out by neo-Nazis. Crimea was once an autonomous Soviet Republic but was handed over to Ukrainian governance by Kruschev in 1954. Now the people there do not want to be Ukrainian anymore if this means being ruled by fascist criminal thugs.

Though Barak Obama and our own Foreign Secretary William Hague are furious, it is plain that their adventurist strategy to bring Ukraine into the European Union and then into Nato — thus gaining control over the base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol in Crimea — has rebounded against them.

They are going to have to retreat but, for the benefit of their own hawkish supporters, they are going to have to work out some sort of face-saving strategy.

Their immediate response to the Crimean referendum result was to refuse to recognise it and to agree sanctions against Russia. But what do these sanctions amount to? So far the Nato countries have put a travel ban on just 11 individuals on people they deem to be behind the referendum with a threat to increase this to other people later and to freeze the assets of Russians held in western banks.

This is not going to bother the Putin government. Indeed Putin will be delighted that the Russian oligarchs will now be rushing to withdraw their billions from western banks and bringing their assets home where they will have to pay taxes on their wealth. But it will leave some very big holes in the resources of the said western banks. Similarly if the oligarchs decide to sell off their housing property investments in London before William Hague can freeze them, it is likely to bring about a crash in the London housing market — ending George Osborne’s phoney “recovery” that was only ever a big housing price bubble.

The European Union has imposed travel sanctions on about 120 Russian individuals, but again that will only motivate the rest of the oligarchs to withdraw their assets as fast as they can from Europe. This will cause further big problems for Greece and Cyprus.

William Hague on Monday also said he and other European leaders were looking at ways of decreasing western European dependence on Russian gas supplies — but admitted it would take until 2030 to do much about it. If Putin wanted to retaliate with sanctions it would be very easy for him to turn off the gas pipelines to Europe. He will be quite happy to sell the gas to China instead.

On this occasion the imperialists have painted themselves into a corner. They cannot hurt Russia without hurting themselves a lot more and their hypocritical verbal attacks on Russia are making them a laughing stock, given their own record of destabilising and invading other vulnerable countries on blatantly false premises in their dash to seize control of the world’s oil resources.

Russia is not the Soviet Union and Putin is not a socialist but this is not the weak and chaotic country that the pro-American drunkard Yeltsin ruled two decades ago. Russia is not a vulnerable third world country; it has the resources to bite back militarily and economically — and it is in field of economics that America and the EU are weakest. And it is in the imperialists’ own back yards that the biggest destabilisation is most likely to happen if Obama, Merkel and Hague cannot find a way to retreat promptly.