Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Two months of Russian air strikes on ISIS more effective than 14 months of US efforts

December 2, 2015

If the Russian supported advances of the Syrian government continue at the present rate, the US-led coalition and the rebels they support may not have too much to say when a Syria, sans ISIS, is carved up. The Russians, regime Syrians, the Kurds and Iran will settle it among themselves. Now this may just be the Russian / Syrian propaganda line, but I suspect that there is some truth in it. Yesterday it was announced that the rebels (mainly al Nusra) would be evacuated from Homs under UN supervision as the Syrian government forces would cease their siege and take over.

I note that the US is now talking about US boots on the ground to support the “good” rebels and this is, I think, a response to a fear of being left out and left behind. Certainly the difference in effectiveness of one month two months of Russian air strikes – with a strategy –  compared to 14 months of US and coalition air strikes, but without a strategy, seems quite remarkable.

Sky:

Bashar al Assad has said US-led coalition bombing in Syria helped Islamic State to expand and recruit fighters.

….. But he praised military action by his ally Russia, which has been accused of targeting moderate rebels as well as jihadists.

Mr Assad said: “Since the beginning of that (US-led) coalition, if you want to talk about facts, not opinion, since the beginning of that coalition, ISIS (Islamic State group) has expanded and the recruiting from around the world has increased.

“While since the participation of Russia in the same fight, so-called against terrorism, ISIS has been shrinking. And al-Nusra (Nusra Front) of course and the other terrorist groups. So this is reality. The facts are telling.”

Asked what it would take to end Syria’s four-year civil war, which has killed more than 200,000 people, Mr Assad said: “When those countries that I mentioned – France, UK, US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and some other – stop supporting those terrorists.

“(the next) day the situation will be better and in a few months we will have full peace in Syria, definitely. If they stop.”

The US, UK, and other Western powers fighting Islamic State have demanded that Mr Assad steps down and have backed rebel groups fighting his forces.

Meanwhile the Syrian president has referred to all his opponents as “terrorists” and accused world leaders pushing for his departure of “supporting terrorists”.

The Syrian leader is backed by Russia and Iran and he praised Vladimir Putin for launching a bombing campaign backing Assad’s forces in September.

In a wide-ranging interview with Czech TV, Mr Assad also said: 

:: On The Migration Crisis:

“The feeling is very sad. Especially if you think about every person of those Syrians who left Syria has sad story behind him. It reflects the hardship of the Syrians during the crisis. From this (rational) way of looking at the situation, it’s a loss. Every one of those is a human resources that left Syria. So that will undermine. Undermine your society and your country. Definitely. But at the end we have to deal with the reasons.”

:: On Turkey Downing A Russian Jet:

“I think it has shown the real intention of Erodgan (Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan) who, let’s say, lost his nerve because the Russian intervention has changed the balance on the ground. So the failure of Erdogan in Syria, the failure of his terrorist groups means his political demise.”

:: On Relations With The West:

“If you look at the relation with the West, in 2005 I was the killer. In 2008 and after I was a peacemaker. Then in 2011 I became the vulture. Now, there’s some positive change – of course shy kind of change, not the explicit one.” ……..

I think the Russian air strikes have caught the US and, especially, Turkey, flat-footed. The shooting down of the Russian jet by Turkey seems to have been born out of a frustration at the targeting of the lucrative oil trade between Turkish middle-men and ISIS (and Erdogan’s son is said to be a key player here), but perhaps more importantly at the success of the Kurds.

Muted felicitations to Putin on Russia’s national day

June 13, 2014

I don’t much care for jingoistic “National Days”.

I suspect that the time when humans have evolved sufficiently such that “nation states” based on a geographical territory become merely administrative regions is still at least a thousand years away. And just what would replace the simple, geographical “nation state” is not yet clear to me. “Nations” based on “values” perhaps, except that if such “nations” cutting across geography were based on religion or political leanings, it would be a giant step backwards. Imagine the nightmare of a “Nation of Islam” consisting of al Qaeda, al Shabab, ISIS, Boko Haram,the Taliban and other groups sharing a similar lack of values!! Or a “Nation of the Neo-Nazis”! Or the Nation of Rock!

In any event we will have nation states and will be plagued by National Days for many centuries yet.

Yesterday was Russia’s National Day but the 12th of June does not have a very long history.

VoiceofRussia:

The document that laid the basis of Russia’s new statehood was adopted on June 12, 1990, when Russia was a republic within the former Soviet Union. This day was put on the list of memorable dates in 1992. The holiday gained its official status in 1994 when it was declared to be a day-off.

President Vladimir Putin will present State Prizes for 2013 to outstanding citizens of the country on Thursday. At the close of the presentation ceremony, a ceremonial reception will be given in the Kremlin. A concert is to be given in the Red Square in the evening. Such concerts have become a tradition on this day. This year, it will feature sports motives with elements of Russian folklore. The audience is draw visual parallels between the victory of Russia’s national team at the Winter Games in Sochi, reunification with Crimea and the forthcoming FIFA World Cup. The topic of the Year of Russian Culture will be also highlighted.

Along with the events in the Red Square, about 250 festival events will be organized in Moscow, including the Moscow press festival on Poklonnaya Hill and the Kremlin Mile running event.

Many countries followed diplomatic niceties and sent their congratulation to Vladimir Putin and the Russian nation. But I detect that in the shadow of Syria and Ukraine these diplomatic messages have been somewhat muted and were not oozing with great enthusiasm!

NewIndiaExpress“My greetings to the people of Russia on Russia’s National Day. India values the long-standing & strong bond with Russia,” Modi tweeted. “I have written to President Putin & Prime Minister Medvedev, conveying greetings on the occasion of Russia’s National Day,” another tweet of his said.

There were the usual messages from most countries but those from the US and Western Europe were relatively muted.

WashingtonPost(blog):

Back in the old days of the Russia “reset,” then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued statements on Russia’s National Day on June 12, emphasizing warming relations.

In 2010 and 2012 the announcements noted the country’s “rich history” and culture. Clinton then quickly pivoted to talk about “building a new partnership” and all the “progress in areas of common concern” between the United States and Russia, such as reducing nuke stockpiles and working to stop proliferation and terrorism. …….. 

But this year, there was a decided chill in the air and no talk of policy matters in Secretary of State John Kerry’s perfunctory five-sentence note on Wednesday. Kerry instead wanted “to pause today and appreciate the great works of Russian literature, music and art that have touched so many people around the world.” He celebrated “the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov,” the great Russian poet, then poet and playwright Aleksandr Pushkin and poet Anna Akhmatova. (Hey! No Tolstoy? Dostoevsky?)

What about mutual cooperation? And “warmest wishes?” Fuggedaboudit.

“May the Russian and the American people share in a peaceful, stable and prosperous future,” Kerry concluded.
Oh Well. Better a cool message than a drone carrying a bomb.

Muddled EU and an indecisive US help Russia emerge from the Cold War doldrums

March 9, 2014

The Soviet Union was dissolved 23 years ago. The experiment of exporting and imposing the Russian vision of socialism on 14 other countries had collapsed in spectacular fashion. It was a resounding victory for Ronald Reagan, Rambo, Capitalism, Democracy and “Western” values – in that order. The 15 post Soviet countries were then Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Countries within their influence but not part of the Soviet Union broke free and looked to find a new place in the growing and expansionist European Union. Czechoslavakia split. Yugoslavia fractured into many pieces. And Europe picked up the pieces. On the back of their economic problems and the dissolution of their Empire, Russia had no diplomatic clout left to speak of. They did inherit the Soviet seat on the Security Council along with its veto and that kept them at the big table if rather ineffective.

But all that is beginning to change. There is a long way to go but with its wealth of resources the Russian economy is beginning to recover. There is a resurgence of Russian diplomacy. Russian diplomats are beginning to have opinions on all matters of substance. They are aided and abeted by a muddled and meddlesome EU together with an indecisive and risk-averse President in the US.

In foreign as with economic policy the EU is a place of very many voices. Some members are looking to create a successor to the Holy Roman Empire with a Holy European Empire. Others are looking to create the United States of Europe. Some want in for the benefits but want out of the costs. But rather than being a place for the dissemination of best practices it has become a hodge-podge where the lowest common denominator applies. They claim to share the same “values” of equality and freedom but none of them like dirty gypsies from Romania. The European Parliament and the European commission add layers of fairly useless politicians and bureaucrats. If only there had been a rule that every sinecure created at the European level would have been accompanied by a reduction at a country level! Radicalised youth in the EU now provide cannon fodder for many conflicts around the world. On all possible sides. The UK and France provide psychopathic young muslims to conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa. French and German and Swedish skinheads travel to the Ukraine to support the neo-nazi Right Sector.

With so many countries in the EU it is not too surprising that they get confused. A referendum in the Crimea is illegal but a referendum in Scotland is OK. They have been fooled into supporting miltant islamists in Syria and have handed the opposition into the control of Al Qaida. They have tried to meddle in the Ukraine and only succeeded in building up the neo-nazi Right Sector and in provoking Russia to enter the Crimea ostensibly to support the Russian origin population. One Swedish politician today suggested implementing a fast track entry for the Ukraine into the EU “as a signal to the Russians”. Little people trying to be politicians on the world stage. With 28 member states and 8 more in the wings, with a full range of political opinions in each country, it is hardly surprising that what emerges as policy, from the attempt to be balanced, borders on idiocy. Meanwhile the US is tired of its expensive adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan which have achieved very little. President Obama is looking to disengage wherever he can. To take on new risk is anathema. In Syria, Obama kept re-drawing red lines, and kept retreating behind them. That proxy war is being won by the Assad regime supported by Russia. The US and the EU no longer know who they support – or should support –  in Syria.

Syria and the Ukraine are just examples. A confused EU together with an indecisive US are providing the Russians with opportunities to test their diplomatic skills and to test the resolve of the EU and the US.

And judging by the results so far, neither the US nor the EU has a sticking point. There is not a leader in sight.

Comments by limerick (2)

December 23, 2013

A family function led to some “scandalous” limericks being written about other family members (who were not present of course). It soon became obvious that putting together the rhymes – even with very free rhyming – and keeping the overall theme intact was not as easy as it seemed.

Finishing a limerick is eminently satisfying and these are written entirely for myself with no particular audience in mind.

1.

Vladimir Putin the Tsar of all Russia,

Fancied himself the Peacemaker of Syria,

But he had not anticipated,

That European policy was constipated,

And the winner of all Syria is now Al Qaida

2

Marks and Spencer, the epitomy of Britishness,

Decided to cow down to political correctness,

“Sensitive” muslims employed to work,

Need no longer serve customers with alcohol and pork,

Leading to ridicule for the iconic M’en’ess.

3.

George Walker Bush, he of Iraq in-fame,

In 2003 claimed the end of the game,

But as has now become bloody obvious,

He achieved nothing to any purpose,

And then in Afghanistan, Cameron did the same

4.

Barack Obama – he of questionable birth,

Pushed insurance for all, for all he was worth,

But incompetence and foolishness were rife,

As his web site caused confusion and strife

And his poster policy became an object of mirth.

5.

Francois Hollande, a rabid die-hard socialist,

Was chosen by the French to replace Sarkozy the chauvinist,

But he had no money for the war,

He waged in Mali and now in CAR.

And is now begging for a fund from capitalists.

Economic model predicts Olympic medals at 2014 Sochi winter games

November 29, 2013

Update! See post of 7th February 2014 about PwC’s predictions.

==============================================

Two economists believe that the number of medals that will be won by any country at the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi will be determined primarily by GDP. They have developed an economic model, tested it against previous Olympic results from 1964 to 2010 and have found that other factors have only a minor effect. They have used their model to make predictions for the 2014,  XXII Olympic Winter Games at Sochi in Russia!

Medal predictions Sochi 2014 - M Andreff

Medal predictions Sochi 2014 – M Andreff

Economic Prediction of Medal Wins at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Madeleine Andreff and  Wladimir Andreff  (pdf: Andreff Sochi)

There is also a published version of the paper: W Andreff, Economic development as major determinant of Olympic medal wins: predicting performances of Russian and Chinese teams at Sochi Games, in Int. J. Economic Policy in Emerging Economies, 2013, 6, 314-340.

Abstract: Starting from an econometric model successfully used to explain and then predict the distribution of medal wins across nations at the Beijing Summer Olympics, a similar model is elaborated on with some different explanatory variables for estimating the determinants of medals won per nation at Winter Games. A Tobit estimation of the model based on data from 1964 to 2010 shows that GDP per capita, population, the endowment in ski and winter sports resorts, and a host country dummy are significant determinants of medal wins at Winter Olympics. Then the estimated model is used for predicting the sporting outcomes at the 2014 Sochi Games with a focus on Russia and China. The Russian team is expected to perform better than in Vancouver 2010 and to be ranked fourth behind the USA, Germany and Canada while the Chinese team would be ranked ninth, a performance doomed to improve in the future given China’s swift economic development.

In their base study the authors do warn that a pinch of salt would be called for and conclude:

Conclusion
All the above predictions must be taken with a pinch of salt. This is namely due to a number of surprising sporting outcomes. Indeed, there are many unexpected sporting outcomes observed ex post ( i.e. achieved outcomes markedly different from the forecast – even though it happens more with the FIFA World Cup than with Summer Olympics (M. & W. Andreff, 2010). Unexpected or surprising outcomes of a sport game or contest have not really been analysed so far. This happens when opponents in a game (contest) have clearly uneven sporting forces, and the underdog wins the favourite. Elaborating on a metrics to quantify surprising sporting outcomes should be a promising avenue for further research. It will be possible to check after Sochi 2014 whether Winter Olympics are characterised with many or few surprising sport outcomes.
For the time being our recommendation is: do not bet that Russia will win 24 medals at Sochi Winter Olympics! But, if Russia makes it with more than 27 medals you would be allowed to conclude that she performed very well, better than expected with an economic model, and that this must be due to exceptional efforts of Russian athletes and coaches before and during Sochi Games. If Russia would win less than 21 medals, you could join Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev in complaining that the Russian winter sports squad should really have done better – or that it was unexpectedly bad lucky.

The Russians are expecting to be the leading nation on the total medals table and they will not be pleased if they win less than 21 medals. Heads will roll!

If GDP really is the determining factor it should not be too difficult to devise a handicapping system to level the field of competition.

I am inclined to take this with a bucket rather than a pinch of salt.

Shale gas potential delays new natural gas pieline under the Baltic

November 19, 2013

It will be slower than in the US, but shale gas will also be a game changer in Europe. Even though Russia has huge reserves of shale gas and shale oil, they would also prefer that the transition to shale gas should not go too fast. They have so much invested in the Natural Gas infrastructure that they need to keep the sales of natural gas going to ensure a return. Gazprom has the enviable dilemma of protecting an existing revenue stream by preventing the too rapid establishment of another revenue stream. One problem for Gazprom of course is that shale gas is much more widespread across Europe and their virtual monopoly with Siberian natural gas will be threatened.

In any case the energy scene is changing fast and the planned investment in additional gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany have been delayed by Nord Stream.

Swedish Radio News: The gas pipeline consortium Nord Stream are delaying their plans for one or two more pipelines under the Baltic Sea. According to Nord Stream’s adviser, Lars Grönstedt, the shareholders want further analyses of the rapidly changing energy market. 

The USA has quickly become almost self-sufficient in energy because of its own shale gas , and it has led to Europe buying more cheap coal than before. “I can not comment directly on the shareholders’ deliberations. But I can guess that since gas has changed to such an extent just the last twelve months , it needs some deeper analysis” says Lars Grönstedt. 

Nord Stream pipeline image http://russia-media.ru/

Nord Stream’s current pipeline has two channels extending from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany under the Baltic Sea to deliver Russian natural gas to Europe.  

Nord Stream had planned to add one or two further gas pipes and held public information meetings last spring –  including on Gotland. It is a project that is expected to cost about $9 billion, and in Sweden alone could create some two hundred jobs during construction. 

Nord Stream’s shareholders, five European energy companies , including Russia’s Gazprom , have postponed these plans. The changes in the energy market as Lars Grönstedt mention, are due in part to America’s increased shale gas . 

I suspect that Gazprom’s best way of maximising revenues is by holding up current natural gas prices but not so high that the development of shale gas is accelerated and not so high that gas users shift to coal (as the large utilities are doing in Germany). A delicate calculation and which would require a slow development of their gas distribution pipelines.

But for the private consumers, the lowest cost would be if shale gas development was speeded up.

 

Assad’s gambit but is it Putin’s end-game being played out in Syria?

November 10, 2013

The Hindu carries an interesting editorial on Assad’s Gambit:

In extending his cooperation to the OPCW – which has until June 2014 to oversee the elimination of Syria’s chemical stockpile – President Bashar al-Assad has signalled his indispensability to a diplomatic settlement. Mr. Assad has underlined that not only is he in control but he is also willing to make tactical concessions. The odds are now stacked heavily against the Syrian rebels. After the United States shelved its plan to intervene militarily, opposition groups have had to reconcile themselves to the option of sharing power with Damascus. That al-Qaeda and other terror outfits have infiltrated the rebels’ ranks has also substantially diminished the support they initially received from the West. Not surprisingly, many of the rebel factions have expressed their reluctance to participate in the “Geneva 2” diplomatic conference scheduled for later this year. Mr. Assad, on the other hand, has made the Syrian government’s participation contingent on his being allowed to complete a full term in office.

Paradoxically it is the destruction of his chemical weapons which has made Assad an indispensable part of the solution. If it was one of the rebel groups (Al Qaida or a group supported by Turkey or by Iran or by Saudi Arabia or by the Kurds or by the Muslim Brotherhood) which actually did use the chemical weapons (Sarin gas) in September, then their ploy has misfired spectacularly. If it was Assad’s forces which released the gas (whether with or without his knowledge), it has certainly brought matters to a head and – also spectacularly –  shifted the course of this civil war. Syrian Opposition became “armed rebels” and are now equated with “terrorists”. From being about Assad’s repression and justified opposition the conflict is being transformed to Assad versus the terrorists.

Keeping score in the Great Syria Chess Game is not easy and when the chemical inspectors were called in I wrote

Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov are winning. The diplomatic path is now their creation. Suddenly Russia is the peace-maker in the face of US war-mongering! Not only was the US strike on their ally delayed indefinitely, it is now Assad’s Syria – and not the various opposition groups – which is required to engage with the international community. Any opposition forces who seem to be coming in the way of inspecting or securing control of the chemical weapons can now be attacked by Assad with the full support of the international community. Russia can continue supplying Syria with conventional weapons. ….

Bashar al-Assad is winning. He does not really need chemical weapons which cannot effectively be used anyway. Any US strike on his forces is postponed indefinitely. With no prospect of any no-fly zone being declared his air-force could be decisive in the civil war. The supply of conventional weapons from Russia is assured. His claim that rebels and terrorists were responsible for the use of Sarin is backed up by Russia and the UN weapons inspectors have no option but to investigate this (and they are on their way back to Syria).

But I think the Hindu is wrong to think that it is merely the infiltration of rebel groups by Al Qaida which has damaged their support from the West. The point is that the rebel groups supported and supplied by so many surrounding countries are not a home-grown opposition but are essentially a collection of mercenary groups fighting proxy wars for many players. Saudi Arabia and Turkey in particular were and are heavily involved – and may even have been instrumental in starting the armed conflict. Now of course Iran and the Kurds and the Muslim Brotherhood are providing succour and support for their pet groups. Al Qaida has its fighters from all over the region (and from radicalised youth in the West) trying to attain eternal salvation through martyrdom. The EU and the US supply arms through third parties to a variety of the rebel groups – and it often seems they have no idea who the arms are going to. Russia supplies Assad. Israel no doubt stirs the pot whenever it can and using whichever faction is available to maintain the turmoil.

As Aron Lund writes in his report,Divided they Stand” An Overview of Syria’s Political Opposition Factions

The opposition landscape is so fragmented and disconnected, that there is little clarity even among activists themselves about what groups and coalitions are truly effective or enjoy popular support. ….

While it is unlikely that any of today’s political opposition groups will control the future Syria, they are likely to play a significant role in a future transition phase or reconciliation process. Regardless of who rules Syria in the future – the current regime, breakaway elite factions, a government installed with foreign backing, or armed rebels – they will need to connect with the political opposition to legitimize their own position.

Assad’s Gambit may be paying off but it is just a few moves within the Putin initiated defence. Whether the Putin defence also has an end-game in mind is as yet difficult to discern. It may just lead to a stalemate and a long drawn-out conflict. It may lead – in the best scenario – to a gradual political transition where Assad has an “honourable” discharge and exile waiting for him sometime late next year.

There are no longer any outright victories in sight in this multi-dimensional chess game where the rules keep changing. But if there is any overall direction to this end-game it is probably coming from Putin and Lavrov. Whether Obama and Kerry are playing the game, or are just bystanders providing infrastructure for the playing of the game remains to be seen. The EU is almost as divided as the Syrian opposition and are very good at mouthing platitudes. The dilemma that the US and the EU face is that support for secular forces in Syria is inevitably support for Assad. Support for any armed rebel group is also support for Islamist jihadists.

Greenpeace is just juvenile exhibitionism and hooliganism

October 26, 2013

Media stunts to get attention and cry-babies when their exhibitionistic stunts go wrong.

For some (the so-called volunteers) it is the chance for an “adventure” holiday.

Piracy, hooliganism and the success is measured by the exposure they can get in the media.  Sound and fury signifying nothing.

The Greenpeace 30 can therefore consider their exploits a great success judging by the media attention they have obtained. They will remain in prison in Murmansk at least until November 24th and i see no reason why they should not be forced to bear the cost of all their juvenile high-jinks. A public spanking would not be uncalled for either.

Reuters: A Greenpeace activist suspended himself from the Eiffel Tower on Saturday to call for the release of 30 people who have spent more than a month in a Russian jail over a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic

After lowering himself from the second tier of the Paris landmark, the man unfurled a large yellow sign saying: “Free the Arctic 30.” He was brought down about two hours later by firemen without incident.

 

Russia downgrades Greenpeace 30 charges from piracy to hooliganism

October 23, 2013

Ria Novosti reports:

Investigators in Russia said Wednesday that they have dropped piracy charges against environmental activists and freelance journalists detained last month aboard a Greenpeace ship.

Investigative Committee chief Vladimir Markin said the group will instead be charged with hooliganism.

……. Hooliganism in Russia carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail.

Russian authorities seized Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise icebreaker in mid-September after activists tried to scale an oil rig in the Arctic in protest against offshore drilling in the area. All 30 people on board – comprising 28 Greenpeace activists and two freelance journalists – were detained and later charged with piracy, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. …

Markin of Russia’s Investigative Committee also said some members of the group could face charges of using force against state officials.

He said the Greenpeace group’s lack of cooperation with investigators had unnecessarily drawn out the process.

“The failure of the accused to give evidence gave cause for investigators to carefully consider all alternative versions of what took place,” Markin said.

He said investigators needed to consider whether the Greenpeace group had attempted to board the oil platform for financial gain, terrorism or to conduct illicit research activities and espionage.

 

The Greenpeace 30 could be free tomorrow but ……

October 19, 2013

It has been one month since the Greenpeace pirates were apprehended by the Russians.

The high profile Greenpeace strategies to get them released have been less than competent. They seem to be particularly incompetent regarding the Law of the Sea. Rather than getting their pirates released, nearly all their actions have been counter productive and have led to a hardening of the Russian position, the denial of bail, the inclusion of drug running charges and now even the threat of terrorism charges. That Greenpeace believes it stands above Governments and can determine what constitutes acceptable or unacceptable behaviour does not endear them to either the Russian Government or Russian Courts.

  1. They have tried bluster and moral indignation.
  2. They have tried arguing that the ends justify the means.
  3. They have managed expressions of support for their cause by rock stars
  4. The Head Pirate has written an idiot  “letter to Putin” in the form of a Press Release
  5. They have persuaded the Dutch Government to institute legal proceedings against Russia
  6. They persuaded the Dutch Government to get their police to apprehend and beat-up a Russian diplomat
  7. They have persuaded some Nobel prize winners to plead for the dropping of piracy charges.
  8. They have tried to complain that the conditions of detention are “inhumane”
  9. They have orchestrated emotional appeals by the families of the pirates.
  10. They have made press releases out of emotional letters from the pirates in captivity.

But humility and any hint that they might be wrong is not within Greenpeace’s genes. My expectation is that Greenpeace will continue to follow arrogant, ineffective and incompetent – but all high profile – strategies. They will only irritate and harden the Russian position even further against the criminals. (See what all the high profile, but equally incompetent, international publicity achieved for Pussy Riot).

What Greenpeace has not done but which they could do and which would probably get their pirates released in about a day is

  1. Get off their moral high horse,
  2. Acknowledge that they broke the law
  3. Get Kumi Naidoo to swallow his pride and grovel
  4. Apologise
  5. Arrange for each one of the detained to apologise to the court, and
  6. offer to give up their passports and accept some form of “house arrest” in exchange for bail, and
  7. provide individual and unconditional assurances that they will not flee.
  8. Assure the Russian courts – individually and collectively – that they will refrain from illegal actions and will abide by the decision(s) of the courts
  9. Assure their own Governments – individually and collectively – that they will refrain from illegal actions and will abide by the decision(s) of the courts
  10. Get their Government Heads to pass on such assurances to Putin (and effectively stand guarantor for the assurances given)

But I do not expect that Greenpeace and its pirates will ever acknowledge their arrogance or moral turpitude.

I expect the Russians will keep them locked up for some time longer. They may well add charges of terrorism – especially if any foreign Government tries to pressure Russian diplomats. If Greenpeace only sits on its high horse and continues to bluster, the 30 may well be there till just before Christmas.

And winter has come early to Murmansk.

Related: The Pirates of Greenpeace


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