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Topic: The comings and goings of the European Union (Read 60752 times)

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #225
Jax has always seen the EU farther east than actuality permits. Byzantine logic? I'm still waiting for North Africa to be mentioned. 😋

Putin changed the status of Ukrainian membership from "unlikely" to "inevitable". The only question is when and how. It is possible that it would happen before the remaining Balkan states. 

Blue are member states, green are candidates, yellow are applicants, and red are frozen candidates. Certainly there would be those who would prefer no eastward expansion, like France or Spain, and every country has veto power.

Still it is a political and economic impossibility not to admit Ukraine. We have experience with earlier expansion, and it is extremely costly. Germany spent 2 trillion euro and thirty years on getting East Germany up to scratch, and it still isn't really. Western Europe has spent a lot on Poland, Baltic states, Central Europe and Romania/Bulgaria. That too is pretty much a work in progress.

Ukraine are all three big bads. It is big, poor, and agricultural. Add to that war-damaged, post-Soviet and corrupt. Basically the funds that go to the current Southern and Eastern Europe will go further east.

Still, it is feasible if Ukraine is on a membership path. Then we can expect massive FDI as well as domestic investments.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #226
Nato *is* European security system, but fully separate from the EU institutions. Namely, a European security framework as an EU institution doesn't exist (that's why EU members join Nato, duh). Germany and France are superannoyed by this and keep making proposals for an EU security framework, silently intended to replace Nato. Just ask Macron and Scholz (or better, observe). Luckily their project is stuck for three main reasons:

Obviously NATO is a good and useful thing. To trot out Lord Ismay again,

Quote
[The purpose of NATO is] to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.
With Brexit, the British went down instead, but two out of three is still not bad.

"Keeping the Americans in" is as important as before. NATO has let North America and Europe do more with less, and the time of Western supremacy and US hegemony is over. However you should see the difference between these two organisations.

NATO is a what, EU is a how. NATO is a club. EU is a guild. NATO has no rules. EU has rules for everything (a mild exaggeration, there are plenty of things EU has no rules for yet). NATO is also a weapons platform as vangrieg (Mikhail Grigoryev) once pointed out. NATO has been, and can remain, very useful, but it only goes so far. 

It also bends and extends in other ways, not only by having the US (and now Britain) in it, and Canada with Russia & EU & US as neighbours, and the not-yet-ready-for-EU members, but also with South Korea and Japan, and indirectly Australia and New Zealand. All good Europeans.

Like NATO has an article 5, the Treaty of Lisbon has an article 42.7. The latter is actually more definitive, but as until now unused.

Quote
Article 5

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

Article 6
For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack:
  • on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America, on the Algerian Departments of France, on the territory of Turkey or on the Islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer;
  • on the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, when in or over these territories or any other area in Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force or the Mediterranean Sea or the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer.
Quote
Article 42
(ex Article 17 TEU)

  • The common security and defence policy shall be an integral part of the common foreign and security policy. It shall provide the Union with an operational capacity drawing on civilian and military assets. The Union may use them on missions outside the Union for peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. The performance of these tasks shall be undertaken using capabilities provided by the Member States.
  • The common security and defence policy shall include the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy. This will lead to a common defence, when the European Council, acting unanimously, so decides. It shall in that case recommend to the Member States the adoption of such a decision in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

    The policy of the Union in accordance with this Section shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States and shall respect the obligations of certain Member States, which see their common defence realised in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), under the North Atlantic Treaty and be compatible with the common security and defence policy established within that framework.
  • Member States shall make civilian and military capabilities available to the Union for the implementation of the common security and defence policy, to contribute to the objectives defined by the Council. Those Member States which together establish multinational forces may also make them available to the common security and defence policy.

    Member States shall undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities. The Agency in the field of defence capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments (hereinafter referred to as "the European Defence Agency") shall identify operational requirements, shall promote measures to satisfy those requirements, shall contribute to identifying and, where appropriate, implementing any measure needed to strengthen the industrial and technological base of the defence sector, shall participate in defining a European capabilities and armaments policy, and shall assist the Council in evaluating the improvement of military capabilities.
  • Decisions relating to the common security and defence policy, including those initiating a mission as referred to in this Article, shall be adopted by the Council acting unanimously on a proposal from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy or an initiative from a Member State. The High Representative may propose the use of both national resources and Union instruments, together with the Commission where appropriate.
  • The Council may entrust the execution of a task, within the Union framework, to a group of Member States in order to protect the Union's values and serve its interests. The execution of such a task shall be governed by Article 44.
  • Those Member States whose military capabilities fulfil higher criteria and which have made more binding commitments to one another in this area with a view to the most demanding missions shall establish permanent structured cooperation within the Union framework. Such cooperation shall be governed by Article 46. It shall not affect the provisions of Article 43.
  • If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States.

    Commitments and cooperation in this area shall be consistent with commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which, for those States which are members of it, remains the foundation of their collective defence and the forum for its implementation.

In the case of Ukraine, the country is neither member of NATO or EU, so the respective articles don't apply, but both organisations have had their uses. The EU is more crucial long-term.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #227
Obviously NATO is a good and useful thing. To trot out Lord Ismay again,

Quote
[The purpose of NATO is] to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.
And from this it should be obvious how misaligned the EU and Nato are. The purpose of France and Germany is to invite Russians in. France and Germany envisioned a rapprochement with Russia, visa freedom and gas pipelines, that would culminate in Russia's EU membership. Boris Johnson, while mayor of London, invited Russians to take over the properties in London, and they did.

Also the purpose of France and Germany is to push Americans out, most recently for a 200th time declared during Macron's visit to China.

And also, after UK got kicked out, the EU is now led by France-Germany tandem, so the purpose is not to keep the Germans down, but on a par with the French. In actuality, Germany massively outplayed France under Schröder and Merkel, and now under Scholz Germany has announced a programme of remilitarising itself. Germany is absolutely not being held down.

NATO has no rules. EU has rules for everything
In reality, whatever lack of rules Nato has, it works even with rogue members such as Turkey. Whatever rules and principles and values and directives the EU has, they fail. For every rule the EU also has exceptions, exclusions, loopholes and copouts. For example with regard to the current sanctions:

The Belgians have shielded trade in Russian diamonds. The Greeks ship Russian oil unimpeded. France and several other nations still import Russian uranium for nuclear power generation.
I have already cited this earlier in this thread. The list is not exhaustive, obviously.

The current faultline in the EU can be compared to what happened during the buildup to the invasion of Iraq. Back then, the eastern EU members were pro, western ones against. Nato is seen as an actual geostrategic factor among those who live next to Russia, whereas the EU is correctly seen as a dangerously duplicitous hypocrite or at least a wuss and idiot. In the western EU, however, Nato is seen as an annoying intrusive extension of USA. They don't want Americans in. They want them out.

Back then, Chirac said "Ces pays [eastern EU members] ont perdu une bonne occasion de se taire" and Rumsfeld divided the EU into "old Europe" and "new Europe". The end result was that the EU was, once again, picked apart by an outside power and the outside power did what it wanted with it.

Meanwhile there was a time when the EU biggies participated in the Minsk agreements delusion. And right now Macron tours the world with his EU "strategic autonomy" delusion. Yes, the diplomacy that the EU participates in has turned out to be a delusion and a mistake every time.

Now, being picked apart by outside powers is a serious problem, indicative of lack of cohesion of the EU. What's worse is that it is an oft-recurring problem. And what's worst is that this is due absolute lack of any sense of geostrategy at all in the EU. The Lisbon article 42.7 may exist, but it is less worth than the paper it is printed on. There is no institution for the supposed common defence and security strategy in the EU and western EU members do not recognise Nato as serving as the missing institution. Therefore the Lisbon article is de facto null and void. Luckily Nato exists and serves its purpose to fill the void. The cost is that outside powers can pick the EU apart on geostrategy every single time, but apparently the western EU members like to be screwed over every now and then, because they are refusing to fix the problem. Sucking up to Putin means that the western EU members to this day do not practically recognise eastern EU members as actual members that should be protected from the threat that Russia poses. If the Lisbon article had any perceptible effect, Finland would not have had to join Nato.

Geostrategy is not hard: Just recognise threats correctly with regard to the entire EU. The most actual geostrategic and military threat to the EU was always Russia. But for Macron right now as we speak, the most acute threat is USA. Whereas Putin is good for dialogue. What a complete dumbass.

Implosion of the EU would reduce the quantity of idiotic hypocrisy in the world approximately by half. Probably a good thing.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #228
I'm still waiting for North Africa to be mentioned. 😋
He has mentioned it repeatedly under the name Sahel. Such as here:

...the EU is taking over the G5 Sahel as a European issue...
In my view, a lucid indication of lack of sense of geopolitical direction.

At best, focusing on Sahel would be a distraction. Its inevitable consequence would be increased ire of the people of the region, since it is France's national project, their colonial heritage. And therefore 100% hypocrisy. At worst, it would divert attention and resources from actual threats and opportunities, also from necessary tasks at hand in Europe, such as the Balkans, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, and Belarus.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #229
Jax has always seen the EU farther east than actuality permits. Byzantine logic? I'm still waiting for North Africa to be mentioned. 😋

Morocco already applied for European Community in 1987, and was rejected. Of course, this was a different time and different rules, but it is highly unlikely they will send another application. Morocco benefits from a good and close relationship with EU, but integration is a few steps too far. It is our line in the sand so to speak. Besides Ukraine already fills the quota for big, poor and agricultural countries. They are about the same size, but unlike Ukraine, Morocco's population is growing, if not by a lot.

But we got the Union for the Mediterranean, basically Roman Empire 2.0 plus some barbarian states that were not a part the first time around. 

This is something French presidents fiddle around with when bored, but this Club Med, or some club like it, will gradually start to matter.





He has mentioned it repeatedly under the name Sahel. Such as here:

...the EU is taking over the G5 Sahel as a European issue...
In my view, a lucid indication of lack of sense of geopolitical direction.

At best, focusing on Sahel would be a distraction. Its inevitable consequence would be increased ire of the people of the region, since it is France's national project, their colonial heritage. And therefore 100% hypocrisy. At worst, it would divert attention and resources from actual threats and opportunities, also from necessary tasks at hand in Europe, such as the Balkans, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, and Belarus.


I would actually agree with that, the "ire" part that is. There is no win in this at the moment, except for preventing opportunity losses. And that is not done by force. Militarily the EU has withdrawn from Sahel, but Russians rush in where Europeans fear to thread. 

Africa is going to matter far more to Europe in the future than Russia will (Ukraine, Moldova, the remainder of the Balkans, and perhaps Georgia and Belarus will become part of Europe). It is Russia that is the distraction, not the Sahel. 


Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #231
Politico published an editorial that attempts to be visionary, titled The EU in 2035: Bigger, messier, tougher. Let's give it a read.

For one, the EU will have more, not fewer, members by the mid-2030s — possibly as many as 36 compared to today’s 27. 

It will be a bigger, messier yet tougher EU, shaped — as always — by unexpected events, and the bloc will struggle to defend its interests and values in a world of great power rivalry.
The editorial does a fair job of keeping the thrust ambiguous in the beginning. The word choice "tougher EU" suggests overall EU-optimism and positivity though.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, geopolitics has become the strongest driving force raising pressure on Brussels and Western European capitals when it comes to removing long-standing roadblocks to the EU’s further enlargement.
It's true that geopolitics is now at the forefront - for the eastern members it always was and always will be. However, it is not the driving force for the whole EU. An strong counterforce is the attitude of Germany and France. Most recently, Macron outed himself on his China-visit as a committed putinite. For this, he morally deserves the treatment that Orban has been getting, but of course there's nobody in the EU to give Macron and Scholz the treatment they deserve. Instead, German president gave the former Bundeskanzler Merkel the highest honour of Germany, earlier only received by Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl. Of course, Germany's president Steinmeier is himself a committed putinite, probably more hardcore committed than Macron, though luckily of less diplomatic prominence. We can be thankful that he did not give the honour to Schröder.

Political pressure to admit all the countries to the west of the new Iron Curtain — including Ukraine, Moldova and six Western Balkan aspirants — will likely be overwhelming, provided they make the required reforms.
Given that, as suggested by the previous point, the EU must get its shit together when it comes to geopolitics (but won't, according to me), it's not just about the reforms that the candidates must make for the membership. It's more importantly about having a geopolitical risk picture at the level of EU and behaving in harmony with that picture.

Anyway, my prediction is that the EU will be incapable of developing any coherent sense of geopolitics. To achieve the sense requires a reform in the command lines of the EU that reduces the prominence of Franco-German axis in the EU structures, and this is something that shall not pass. Therefore, as the EU expands further, it will also weaken and fracture further, instead of becoming tougher as hoped in the title.

Brexit has been a salutary lesson to most Europeans that life is warmer and more prosperous inside than on the outside — especially with a revisionist Russia banging on the gates. 
To most Europeans, yes, but not to EU biggies. And since the EU is not a democracy and will in the foreseeable future be even less of it, the elite of the EU biggies always matters more than most Europeans, whichever way you slice "the most".

For the EU biggies, Russia is just as legit a superpower to hang themselves on as any other. Even more, due to geographical proximity, Russia would qualify as a prospective EU member in their mind. For now, admitting the temporary inconvenience posed by the war in Ukraine, this outlook has been modified to that Russia must not lose face and the EU must not be the vassal of US, nevermind that the EU biggies have been pretty much vassals of Putin and Putin has now in turn been reduced to a vassal of Xi Jinping.

Even the most outspoken populist Euroskeptic politicians in France, Italy, Poland, Hungary and the Netherlands have stopped advocating for an exit now, as they would rather stay and obstruct, or simply disobey, or reshape.
Indeed, there's no outspoken threat from that corner. But there's another fatally bad option for the EU that I have not seen any analyst or commentator pick up: Implosion. Given the fact that the power in the EU irreformably rests with the biggies and the only reform they foresee is a further erosion of the voice of what the perceive as the buffer zone rubble, the rift along the EU's West-East faultline may crack. Of course, the biggies may continue with their own rump-EU and call it whole as if nothing happened, but it would be a step back to pre-Nice, maybe even pre-Maastricht EU.

Ultimately, I don’t believe either France or Germany would dare block Ukraine’s path to membership if it enthusiastically embraced EU-mandated reforms after the war. However, along with other member countries, they will press for long transition periods before new members can gain the full benefits of membership, whether that be in terms of EU funds, farm subsidies, the free movement of workers or, possibly, veto rights and their own commissioner. 
Again, dear eurooptimists, EU membership is not just a matter of letting countries join, but what constitutional, economic, demographic and geopolitical picture will follow from this - in terms of risk, not only in terms of enlargement euphoria. From this perspective, Ukraine is in a worse state than any of the Balkan countries.

Ukraine is also in a worse state than Moldova, which sits in a strategic catastrophe by itself. Ukraine and Moldova are in their situation due to no fault of their own, but it would the EU's duty to fix them up if the EU fancies them to join. Given the EU's track record of diplomatic ineptitude in the Balkans, in Transnistria, and in Cyprus, not to mention the current reluctance to punish the current red-alert aggressor in Ukraine, there's no glimmer of hope in the relevant direction.

The Continent will still need the United States as its guardian nuclear superpower, however, but when it comes to providing conventional armed forces, it will have to fend for itself more, and take more responsibility for its neighborhood as Washington focuses on China.
Yes, these are minimum necessities for survival. At the same time, the EU biggies consistently scoff at survivalist mentality. Someone somewhere noted, and I agree, that Germany simultaneously lets USA pay for its defence, gets alarmed by American influence over European matters, makes geopolitical decisions that directly aid and abet the enemies of Europe, and is condescending to Americans for the failures of American welfare state. The level of delusion (or cynicism) in this kind of psyche is comparable to Russia. The same can be said about France as exemplified by Macron.

Such piecemeal integration in response to crises such as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine is far more likely than either a federal leap forward or a nationalist unraveling of a Europe built over seven decades of common legal, economic and political construction.
This presupposes a continued presence of external threats that prompt a constructive reaction with integrative effect by the EU. The wars and crises of Cyprus, Bosnia, Kosovo-Serbia, and Crimea were not enough. Even the current war of Ukraine looks like will not be enough. And what if such threats stop happening or assume a different nature? It was high time quite a while ago for the EU to learn the lessons and get its shit together without further need of outside prodding. Did not happen, so never will.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #232
Russia eases travel restrictions on Georgian nationals, in the latest sign of thawing ties.
President Vladimir V. Putin on Wednesday ordered the restoration of direct flights from Russia to the mountainous former Soviet republic of Georgia starting May 15 and abolished visa requirements for Georgian nationals, in the latest sign of continued rapprochement between the two nations.

The relationship with Russia has been a subject of a heated and polarizing debate in Georgia, where many members of the pro-Western opposition argue that the country must impose sanctions on Moscow and be more active in supporting Ukraine.

Roman Gotsiridze, a Georgian opposition lawmaker, said in a statement on his Facebook account that Mr. Putin’s decisions on travel and visas had “put Georgia on the same rank” as Belarus, “a friendly state for Russia.”
So this is the status in Georgia, the country whom the EU leaders see as a hopeful member.

Incidentally, I visited Georgia last week. The majority of the people seems to be upset by Russia's attack on Ukraine and alarmed by the mass of Russians fleeing mobilisation. But the government seems to see the situation as a great opportunity to take a cut of the trafficking of forbidden goods between Russia and Turkey.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #233
Africa is going to matter far more to Europe in the future than Russia will... It is Russia that is the distraction, not the Sahel.
You are not talking about times when Russia is gone, no? In that case you are wrong. Russia matters as long as it exists. Russia matters even in Sahel. For example, Central African Republic is orienting itself away from France. Central Africa invited Wagner in and French forces retreated to avoid direct fighting - because in his alternate universe, Macron is making a peace agreement with Putin.[1] I know that some outlets report that France first wound down its troops in Central Africa and then Russians moved in to fill the void, but this is deceptive reporting to avoid talking about French motivation in Sahel - colonialism. If things were going well, why would France pull the troops and leave a void after themselves? Answer: Things were not going well, that's why they pulled the troops.

Sahel is fed up with the EU. For them, the EU is unambiguously and straightforwardly a colonial power. The only way Sahel "matters" for the EU is colonialism. This is, it matters only for the former colonial powers who still operate on colonial instincts. For the eastern EU members, Sahel does not matter at all. There's nothing to do there. We are not planning to colonise anybody and we do not support you when you plan colonisation. Except perhaps if you supported us in standing up against Russia's colonial efforts, but you say Russia don't matter, so...

Another way Sahel can matter for the EU is when talking about the future rump-EU consisting of Western European colonial powers. Then, seeing that their games with Russia ended in a catastrophe, the rump-EU would satisfy itself with adventures in Sahel instead.
Macron probably achieved permission from Putin to designate Wagner as a terrorist group. I'm quite sure France is doing this with Putin's authorisation.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #234
Austrian Kanzler hates card payments (and maybe digieuro also) so much that he's making it a matter of constitutional crisis.
Die Liebe der Österreicher zum Bargeld ist groß, noch größer die - wohl unbegründete - Angst einer Abschaffung. Und das, obwohl in den meisten westlichen Ländern das Bezahlen mit Karte oder Smartphone bereits gang und gäbe ist. Doch Bundeskanzler Karl Nehammer will dennoch das „Recht auf Bargeld“ in der österreichischen Bundesverfassung verankern. Die Menschen in Österreich hätten „ein Recht darauf“.

Daher will der Kanzler die Sicherstellung von Scheinen und Münzen als Zahlungsmittel in die Verfassung bringen. „Die Menschen müssen eine Absicherung haben, dass Bargeld ein Zahlungsmittel bleibt und die Möglichkeit haben weiterhin mit Bargeld zu bezahlen. Und sie müssen eine Grundversorgung mit Bargeld in zumutbarer Entfernung haben. Das ist auch eine Frage der Unabhängigkeit und der Krisenvorsorge“, so der Bundeskanzler. „Die Bedeutung des Bargelds in Österreich zeigt sich auch an einer eindrucksvollen Zahl: Pro Jahr werden rund 47 Milliarden Euro an Bankomaten in Österreich abgehoben.“

Als ersten Schritt habe er daher den Finanzminister beaufragt, diese drei Forderungen auszuarbeiten. Im September soll es dann zudem einen Runden Tisch mit den zuständigen Ministerien, Branchenvertretern und der Nationalbank geben. „Bargeld ist als Zahlungsmittel elementar, es ist wichtig, dass wir einen unmissverständlichen Rechtsrahmen schaffen, um es auch entsprechend abzusichern “, so Nehammer.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #235
Sounds good to me.  :yes:

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #236
It so happens that money is in Estonia's constitution. The constitution says that Bank of Estonia is the sole issuer of money. In reality of course the ECB has become the issuer of money currently in effect in Estonia, so the constitution appears to be in conflict with the way money is issued. According to our legal commentators on the constitution, the conflict is genuine. I also happen to know that when Estonia was in the middle of negotiations with the EU, the ECB demanded this section of our constitution be deleted. But it is notoriously hard to change the constitution. Probably Estonia had to promise or give away something more for not changing the constitution.

This section of the constitution will become handy when the EU falls apart. If Austria takes its own initiative seriously and attempts to put money into constitution and the ECB obstructs (as one would expect), it will reveal again that countries (governments) have catastrophically little control over money (which should have been obvious when they gave away all control over monetary policy) and that would become a good reason to leave the eurozone.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #237
A fun little article reminding about Borrell's misadventures. However, he has his defense:

In Borrell’s defense, he wasn’t the only EU big beast to get trampled on in Moscow in recent years.

The EU is nicely defended by the fact that there is not just one idiot on the top job (and who is apparently unfierable), but many.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #238
Arte.tv documentary looking into sanctions-shmanctions after two years of war in Ukraine. I can confirm that the journalists are on the right tracks. In April-May last year I visited Georgia and Turkey and the situation was evident even as a tourist, so this barely scratches the surface.

https://www.arte.tv/en/videos/115997-000-A/russia-forbidden-business/

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #239
Yes, seen the same documentary.

Where there are sanctions, there will be sanctions busting. Inevitably, and every time as long as the sanctioned has money to pay for it. And a siege of Russia is not a practicality.

However, where there is sanction busting, there can be sanctions busting busting. And while sanctions have never brought down a regime, not even South Africa, and can make people connected to the regime even richer, they do impoverish a country. That however is a long game.

Doesn't mean they are useless, only that they are gradual and not a replacement for more direct action. Ukraine's "sanctions" inside Russia are pretty good, even though they too are gradual.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #240
Sanctions work like tariffs. It's not just a matter of locking somebody else out of transacting with entities in your country, but also a matter of being ready to smack the entities in your own country who keep transacting with the other country.

It is a matter of some bureaucratic administering: The transaction with the other country may have happened because the entity in your own country was precisely trying to follow the sanctions situation, e.g. closing down a business in Russia is, on paper, a transaction with Russia. Or it may have happened due to not being up-to-date on the sanctions situation, i.e. a "good faith" accomplice. Or it may be a willing accomplice. Or a bad-faith actor. Or the foreign country may have put up a front entity in your country, to mislead, disrupt and corrupt. Each situation requires a bit different handling on your own side, and it's the ability to handle every case (or at least most cases) competently on your own side that matters most — not to lose vigilance, not to lose the sense of purpose in the sanctions.

Unfortunately the EU did not have the required vigilance, the competence, and the sense of purpose in the sanctions. All along, every Western member country wanted to ensure ways to water down the sanctions for the benefit of its own particular pet industries that have dense transactions with Russia.


Germany to halve military aid for Ukraine despite possible Trump White House

This is not despite Trump. It is in preparation for the Second Coming of Trump :angel: It is also Germany sliding comfily back to its old grooves.

Germany is taking back the initiative in Europe as they used to, the kind of initiative they used to have, namely the pro-Russian and anti-self-determination initiative. In hindsight it must be said that when Russia invaded Crimea (and Donetsk and downed the MH17 flight), Western Europe (EU spearheaded by Germany and France) outright congratulated Putin on a brilliant colonial move. There was some diplomatic nagging against Russia, but nothing was done that would be even remotely proportionate to the crime that Russia committed. Instead they speak to this day about "pro-Russian separatists" in Ukraine. Western EU leaders did not acknowledge any crime by Putin for annexing Crimea and invading Donetsk.

In actions, such as going to visit Putin after the annexation of Crimea on May 10th instead of the usual May 9th, there were congratulations, even though less so in words. Whereas Trump congratulated Putin for the full-scale assault in plain unashamed words.

For a few years now, Scholz has been annoyed to have to follow Biden's drive for sanctions and military aid to Ukraine. Now Scholz is toning it down, expecting Trump to return to presidency. Toning the aid to Ukraine down serves to repair Scholz's image domestically too, making it harder for AfD and Wagenknecht to criticise him. It's a win-win-win: Ensure domestic control, make annoying Balts and Poles go away, and eventually get Russia's gas back.

Trump has always been fully in Putin's pocket, but Biden has also been a weak helper of Ukraine. Biden would like to be a little stronger, but he cannot because of the Republican majority in Congress. Still, Biden would not like to be too strong. Not so strong as to kick Russia out of Ukraine, not so strong as to isolate Russia's Black Sea fleet to Novorossiisk. Biden has been strong enough to push and drive Germany for a while, but not all the way. The momentum is winding down now. The aid to Ukraine has only been barely sufficient to sustain a defence against Russia's continued encroachment, never enough for offensive against the aggressor.

I have heard that there were two big generals who had Biden's ear. One was anti-Putin in a principled way, the other a Mearsheimerian figure. The principled general retired a little while ago, which leaves the Mearsheimerian guy whispering to Biden something like "The real problem is China and we have to prepare for the real problem" ignoring that China determines its actions exactly based on how decisively the West protects Ukraine. Since there is no land bridge to Taiwan, Taiwan cannot be protected in the same manner as Ukraine, so the proper way to deter China is to send a message by means of actions in the Ukraine conflict. But we are sending a weak and garbled message in the conflict which is far easier to handle than Taiwan would be, and is far closer to home both logistically and morally.

Eastern EU countries cannot keep up the drive to support Ukraine. Pro-Ukraine countries, such as Poland and Baltics, will lose their edge, because biggies hate it when tinies have any edge. Biggies insist on colonial relations between West and East. Orbàn will not have to make any adjustments. He placed his bet correctly from the beginning, having calculated that Germany is a natural-born sucker for Putin's gas, and would get back to it again as soon as the opportunity presents itself, and that this would determine the entire balance of the EU, the tendency to betray and keep betraying its smaller members over bigger non-members. The EU biggies are entrenched in the mindset a la "Russia big and scary, Russia's gas tasty, therefore Putin friend" to the point of voluntarily feeding eastern EU members to Putin, and it will be entirely up to Putin to decide whether to spare the likes of Hungary who did not go along with unfriendly behaviour towards Russia, whereas Baltics and Poland are definitely doomed, not to mention the left-over Ukraine who either must become Belarus or the war will continue at some point until complete annihilation.

And this will set the tone for the relations with China. In words, Western commentators are worried over the aggressiveness of China. In deeds, they are encouraging China, just as they have been encouraging Russia. Putin took the bait. China will be more clever by remaining patient, I think. China will cause so much puzzlement over its refusal to take the bait that Western leaders will eventually lose their patience first and push Taiwan into China's lap, and China will then pretend to be reluctant to accept Taiwan.