Ukraine, just media hot air

Boris Johnson’s war of words in support of the Ukraine is going down well with the media. Yesterday he raised the metaphorical stakes to new levels by pronouncing that the ‘economic ligature’ was being tightened around Putin’s neck. But despite Johnson’s bluster about sanctions being ‘unprecedented’, the overwhelming proportion of Russian assets in Britain and its offshore tax havens, where they are held anonymously, will remain untouched. Meanwhile the flow of Russian energy supplies to the West will continue as normal, since sanctions do not apply to the Russian energy sector, providing a ready supply of foreign currency for the ‘Russian war machine’.

As for insisting that there are more sanctions to come, what is Johnson waiting for. The invasion of the Baltic states? Finland? Poland?    

Only two things would hurt Putin short of direct military confrontation and the initiation of World War III – a distinct possibility, given Putin’s current state of mind. First, the banning of all oil, gas and coal imports from Russia, on which Russia’s foreign currency earnings depend. Second, the seizing of all Russian assets in the West and the cancelling of all Russian visas. In other words, kick out the Russian elite, and their families, who have gained a taste for the cosmopolitan life. Not just the billionaire oligarchs, the kleptocrats, but the thousands of wealthy Russians – businessmen, members of parliament, state officials, state employees, and enforcers – who have benefitted from Putin’s rule and keep him in power. Collectively they own tens of thousands of high-end properties in London alone. Returned to life in Moscow, their support for Putin will quickly evaporate.  

Both measures would cause Putin to think again, put the brakes on his dream of recreating imperial Russia, and possibly seal his fate. All the rest is pantomime, symbolic gestures, and bluster. The stakes could not be higher. But the West will not act because the material inconvenience would be too high a price to pay, both for its citizens and its leaders. Better to covertly supply weapons and ammunition, and see Ukraine descend into a blood bath, while NATO looks on.   

Unfortunately, Russian largesse, in the form of tens of billions of pounds of laundered money, has been an indispensable lubricant to the high life of our political and financial elite for many years. Questioned in 2018 about the revelation that Lubov Chernukhin, former Russian banker and wife of Putin’s former deputy finance minister, had donated £160,000 to Conservative Party funds to play tennis with then prime minister David Cameron – the match took place in 2014 and her donations to the party total £2 million – Boris Johnson warned against creating ‘a miasma of suspicion about all Russians in London – and indeed all rich Russians in London’.    

Roman Borisovich, who has campaigned against Russian money laundering for years, and runs ‘kleptocracy tours’ of luxury properties in London owned by Putin supporters, is scathing about the sanctions imposed against a handful of oligarchs who have little to do with Britain, and a handful of banks of whom no-one has ever heard. He points out that the sanctions legislation does not apply to most of Russia’s wealthiest and most powerful, to members of Russia’s legislative and judicial bodies, or to family members and affiliated persons. In any case, it is impossible to identify assets held in anonymous offshore companies (which most of them are) registered in British Overseas Territories without transparency of foreign ownership, something Borisovich has long been campaigning for.

True, Johnson has promised, under opposition pressure, to bring forward the long-awaited and long-delayed Economic Crime Bill, to ‘peel back the façade’ of beneficial ownership of UK assets, before the Easter Recess. But given the vested interests at stake, it is unlikely to be more than a tokenistic affair. Only in January, junior minister Lord Agnew resigned in disgust at the government’s decision to quietly drop the Economic Crime Bill from the next parliamentary session. And when Lord Faulks, barrister and former Justice minister, tried to insert a public register of overseas property owners into a government bill on money laundering in 2018, he came under intense pressure from officials to drop his amendment because they already ‘had the issue in hand’.

True, the government has announced it is scrapping the golden visa scheme by which wealthy foreign investors and their families are allowed residency if they invest more than £2 million here – an obvious charter for money laundering. But thousands of Russians have already taken advantage of the scheme, and they will be staying, ensconced in their luxury properties, their major assets held hidden anonymously in offshore tax havens. 

The sad reality is that Johnson’s Britain is as dependent on dirty Russian money as Germany is dependent on Russian oil and gas. At least oil and gas piped to Germany heat people’s homes; the tens of billions of pounds that have flowed into Britain and its offshore tax havens serve no purpose other than to cushion Britain’s elite.   

Meanwhile, our much-vaunted liberal values find expression in self-inflicted immolation on the altar of transgendered multiculturalism. Consumed with white guilt, white shame, white privilege, and unconscious bias, we deconstruct our history and our culture. Terrified of causing offence, we accuse those who express unorthodox opinions of hate crimes, and cancel their freedom of expression.

Russia Today, the voice of the Kremlin, openly taunts the West for its impotence, its cosmetic sanctions, for not daring to target Russian oil and gas because the hurt inflicted on the West would be too great. They have a point.

Is it any wonder that Putin holds the West in contempt?   

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Editor’s note. Russia spent £60 million on a covert campaign to stop fracking in the UK.

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8 Comments on Ukraine, just media hot air

  1. Before a nuclear missile explodes over Shefford, and bearing in mind the predictably contrarian observations by Peter Hitchens in the “Mail on Sunday” (27 February), let us all reflect on your crucial paragraph on “transgender multiculturalism” and the racial guilt that has aggravated British, European and Western self-defence paralysis, “Welbyism”. Why have the analytical warnings largely been left to so-called “right-wing” pundits like Patrick Buchanan or Douglas Murray, and even more so to “notorious” outliers like Kerry Bolton (“The Perversion of Normality”), Arthur Kemp (“The War against Whites”) or Mark Collett (“Fall of Western Man”)?
    We need to set aside a reactive denunciatory Moralitis of ALL kinds and instead consider an informed strategic Realpolitik.
    My guess is that a settlement could be reached with the admission into Russia proper of the territory east of the Dneiper combined with an ethnic transfer and gradual disengagement of NATO forces from the Russian sphere of influence.
    Either we save Putin’s face or we assassinate him.

  2. Our media cannot even accurately report at home, so why does anyone think they can report accurately from abroad?

    But let’s say it’s true; let’s say that all of these documentaries following the Donbass people are “fake”, and that this is all “russian propaganda”.

    We are still making all the same mistakes.

    Didn’t Hitler rise to power because the German people voted for a strongman to protect them from outside pressure (i.e., debt they couldn’t repay, potential loss of Rhineland)? Backing Russia into a corner economically is repeating the same mistake less than 82 years later. And the consquences this time could be catastrophic.

    • @ Jim
      Even if the pre-Nazi and pre-WW2 “established narrative” were completely correct, the “Munich” comparison is a poor and indeed dangerous guide to an appropriate response in a very different geopolitical and technological situation. The only modern analogy that is even slighty close is the unsolved West Bank problem, but we must focus on the actual realities of the actual situation and probable future outcomes from immediate relevant action.
      A relevant factor is the difference between the Russian population and economy and that of emergent China. I have every respect for the Han people as a “race” and “culture” but the Russians like the Belorussians and Ukrainians are mostly a white “race” and “culture”, and should be part of the white world, not divided along the old NATO-Soviet lines and in another Eurasian Moscow-Beijing alliance. Instead of confrontation, try co-operation to rescue the Russian population from their homeland problems.

      • I watched the documentary Donbass: The Grey Zone, which shows the point of view of the people living in Donbass. I’ve also spoken to a Russian friend who lives near the border. They’ve heard shelling since 2014. In addition to that, you have a leaked cable from U.S. Ambassador Victoria Nuland which explicitly states that she, and her counterparts, spent 5B to encourage the 2014 coup. When the coup came to power, they immediatly banned Russian as their native language (30% of the population speaks Russian), and commenced attacks on Donbas (who sought to separate themselves for obvious reasons). The Minsk agreement was designed to declare Donbass as an autonmous zone, but video evidence is undienable proof that their autonomy has been violated. These people have been shelled for eight long years. Something had to give. Kiev refused to negotiate.

        And Swift will backfire. China will benefit. Russian and Indian banks are now flocking to CIPS (Chinese alternative), and I presume South America will follow. The west must realize that there is a signfiicant power shift occuring, brought about by bad diplomacy and internal cultural shifts, and the logical result is a devaluation of the Dollar, Pound and Euro – including isolation of all three from the much broader international community. China will be the new superpower, followed by India.

        • OK , we’ll agree that Putin is a thug. As a proud Canadian l can boast that l’m ruled by a vicious, traitorous imbecile who wants to destroy Canada. Correction: make that past tense, he already has. He’s achieved this through villianizing the people who founded and built Canada, by worshipping wokism as a faith that dictates all his decisions. That means he approves of mass immigration, statue toppling, encouraging the faking of history so that victims feel comfortable and, of course, fighting climate change with every tax dollar he can lay his hands on.
          Now, on the other hand we have Putin. He wants to preserve Russia, its history, heritage and character. He’s against everything Trudeau is for. If he is a thug, he’s apparently allowed thousands of ant-war protesters in the streets of Moscow. A few days ago Trudeau had police beating supporters of the truck convoy in the streets of Ottawa.
          Let me mull over who l would prefer as Canada’s leader

        • This Russia Today ‘Nasty Ukrainians insisting on the primacy of Ukrainian’ view needs to be balanced by the historical context. Ukraine was subjected to Russification, including the banning of Ukrainian for the best part of 200 years, only ending with Ukrainian independence. Stalin extended this to incorporate the liquidation of all Ukrainian intellectuals and artists, and of Ukrainian culture. The Russian speakers of the East, who were imported by Stalin, should be grateful that they have not been evicted in cattle wagons as the ethnic Germans were from Czechoslovakia in 1945.

          • I disagree. The people of Russia should never be held accountable for the crimes committed by their ancestors. If we play the game of historical cuplability, there won’t be many people left. The only thing that matters is the violation of the minsk agreement, the continous bombing of the people living in that region, and the media’s unwillingness to tell the truth. Everything is so carefully calculated. Indeed, the narrative is so far from the truth, that one has a hard time stating all the falsities – because it would take days to go through.

            Fact 1. America orchestrated the coup. this is not even up for the debate, because Victoria Nuland’s cable is public.

            Fact 2. The people of Donbas didn’t recognize that coup. They were given autonomy under the minsk agreement.

            Fact 3. That autonomy was consistently violated. You claim they should be “grateful”, because of past violations. If that were true, we could look at each of your ancestors and if they committed any crime that has yet to be punished, we could punish you for them. That is a dangerous game.

            Fact 4. Zelensky refused to negotiate, and he refused to stop bombing.

            Fact 5. 20,000 NATO troops were in Ukraine training army soldiers. They don’t deny this.

            Fact 6. The Pentagon sent 1.5B in military aid to Kiev.

            Fact 7. NATO is not known for being Mother Teresa. They’ve bombed Somalia, Nicaraugau, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, the list goes on.

            Putin is a thug. But that doesn’t mean the other seven facts are untrue.