Ukrainian Reflections


I was invited on March 18th to speak to a conference at the Renaissance Hotel Brussels organised by the EU-Ukraine Business Council, to offer my reflections from a UKIP perspective on the situation in the Ukraine.  I said something like this:

Ladies & Gentlemen: In my party, we take the view that the UK has been too eager in the last ten or fifteen years to engage in distant foreign wars, often with no evident or immediate national interest, and with less than satisfactory outcomes.  The public in the UK, and across Europe, is weary of war, and there is little appetite for a new one.  UKIP is also opposed to new EU enlargement (there had been previous suggestions that Ukraine should be fast-tracked into the EU).  But of course our main concern is to get my country, the UK, out of the EU altogether, and when we leave there may well be room for Ukraine to join.  (Laughter).

It seems to me that President Putin has created a fait accompli in Ukraine, and it is not clear what we can do about it in the short term.  We took the “Peace Dividend” at the end of the Cold War.  We have cut back on military spending.  Putin knows all this, and calculates correctly that he is unlikely to face a military response.  We lack both the resolve and the military capability.

On the other hand, Russia is weaker than Putin seems to realise.  It may be militarily strong against Ukraine.  But its economy is weak, and largely dependent on high-priced fossil fuel exports.  Any serious attempt at sanctions would be very damaging for the EU, but potentially disastrous in Russia, and Putin’s hold on power will be threatened if the economy and the condition of the people worsen significantly.

So what do we need to do?

First of all, we have to reassure other central and eastern European countries.  Ukraine is fortunately not a member of NATO.  We have no treaty obligation to come to its aid in a military sense.  But Poland and the Baltic states are NATO members.  We have a clear obligation to defend them.  We must reassure them, and we must make it clear to Putin that if their security is compromised, Russia will face a much more robust response

Secondly, we have to get serious about defence.  The armed forces are not just some nice traditional hang-over from earlier times in history.  They are not just a place where young men can learn teamwork and comradeship and leadership.  They are vital to the Defence of the Realm, and just because we cannot say for certain what the next threat will be, that does not mean that we should not be prepared for it.

And thirdly, we must cut our dependence on fossil fuels imported from politically unstable areas.  We can’t afford to risk energy blackmail from Russia.  We must urgently develop indigenous British and European energy resources.  And we are sitting on huge reserves of shale gas, which despite the black propaganda of the green NGOs, is cheaper and safer and cleaner than coal.  We must ask the European Commission why it worries privately about public resistance to fracking, while subsidising the very green NGOs, like “Friends of the Earth”, who spread the lies and black propaganda.  Time to start drilling.

While Putin has played a blinder in the short term, he may have missed the medium-term economic implications of his Crimean adventure.  If Europe urgently develops alternative sources of gas, as it surely must, the damage to Russia’s economy will be substantial, and the bear will find that its claws have been clipped.


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22 Responses to Ukrainian Reflections

  1. Brin Jenkins says:

    I’m impressed Roger, well spoken.

  2. David says:

    Very good Roger.

  3. neilfutureboy says:

    The fact that the people of Crimea by an overwhelming majority (perhaps not quite as overwhelming as 96% says) want to be Russian means there is nothing we can or should do about it. The funding by NATO “N”GOs of the rioters in Kiev was clearly not merely a crime – it was a mistake.

    After what NATO did to Yugoslavia there are absolutely no circumstances under which any remotely honest western politician who supported that can get on a moral high horse about the sanctity of borders. To be fair no such remotely honest politician has – only war criminals like Hague.

    On the other hand sanctity of frontiers IS a vital principle – particularly in a world where technology gives a bonus to anybody utilising first strike capability, which is what we have in the real world. If international law is a charade, force is all that is left and it is in the interests of everybody that we re-establish the rule of international law that NATO so wantonly destroyed over Yugoslavia.

    This is also very much in Putin’s interest since he has an enormous thinly populated land area adjoining the rising power of China. Up to now China has believed it is in their interest too – their rise having been entirely by economic rather than military means, though she is flexing her muscles over some adjoining islands and that is a flashpoint which should be cooled by the rule of law, whichever way it goes.

    As to us spending more on our armed forces – I am against that. Britain is the world’s 4th military power by money. We alone spend 2/3 as much as Russia. If that does not give us sufficient power it is not because we aren’t spending enough but because it is being wasted on aircraft carriers without planes, boots on the ground in Afghanistan and providing jobs to padded contractors and depressed constituencies. We should be spending it on high tech – submarines, space satellites, Thor orbital javelin system, laser anti-aircraft systems etc.

  4. Thomas Fox says:

    Have all the Ukrainean people been consulted on the EU Association Membership pact that its unelected leader has agreed to ?

  5. Me_Again says:

    The ‘primacy’ of self determination was brought to the top of the pile some while ago by the UN and used by the US for a variety of foreign games, but what they haven’t worked out is that it has to be applied across the board not just where they choose it to apply. So, from the Falklands to Kosovo we have examples of the people’s right to self determination lifted above that of notional sovereignty.

    So I wonder how it is that the EU and the US can so hypocritically argue the referendum in Crimea was illegal and not binding. Roger has neatly avoided comment on the undue leaning by the EU and the US -Asst sec state -ambassodor to Ukraine telecon- the dangerous game of NATO and the West being overtly opposed to Russia when there isn’t even an ideological difference any more.
    Why be so bloody provocative? Why?

    Money, Money, Money……………………………………

    Once more people are being killed because of simple greed.

    • Thomas Fox says:

      No need to bother about Crimea ,it’s now Russian but what about consulting with all Ukrainean people first rather than some EU Associated Membership pact with an unelected leader now !

  6. Maureen Gannon says:

    Well said Roger , however all this sabre waving is in my opinion obscene, can anyone explain to me how it was democratic to oust a democraticly elected person to be replaced by a western frontman [ neo cons such as senator Mcain was their giving advice] there is a film doing the rounds on the internet with him in the Ukraine, havent got the link for that, this one is a Ukranian publication. you only have to read some of the comments to be repulsed.,

    The west interfered in the Middle East and has left a burning inferno do we really want to inflict more conflict, where as I see it only the plebs pay the price of the power crazed .

  7. Ex-expat Colin says:

    From my Air Force cold war days I can say playing against Russia is not funny at all. If Russia has Nuke I’d be more for speaking to Putin and Co as quickly as possible and at great length.

    And whats China going to do? And all the ex USSR states? Anybody added this up yet?

    Drop the sanctions and the hissy fits about gays. You may know that Visa/Mastercard has cut off a Russian bank…it tends to get annoying really.

    Trying to get our military anywhere near anything useful will involve the US…more big problems.

    I am certain I heard that a sanction would be to stop selling/supplying arms to Russia. Must have misheard that?

    Get talking to Putin and try to stop p*ssing him/them off.

    • Me_Again says:

      Totally agree. America really is off on one, they have an agenda for everything. This is like the Kremlin putting missiles in Cuba. America would not tolerate that. Same when the yanks were aiming to put missiles in Turkey and Greece. What if the Kremlin had subverted Canada or Mexico? There’d been a hell of a response to that wouldn’t there, and they wonder why the Kremlin is annoyed. They want to surround Russia with missiles and unfriendly countries dependent on American largesse, and then wonder why it pisses the Russians off.
      Everyone seems to forget the Crimea was Russian until mid 50’s, when they made the transfer they didn’t want it sold to the highest western bidder half a century or more later.

      Is anyone saying the referendum wasn’t fair [involved gunpoint x marking?], I don’t think so. They just moan that there was no third option. A third option on a referendum merely seeks to cause a split and many people go for it because it’s a compromise.

      That is exactly what we said we DIDN’T WANT for our EU referendum So why is it of such significance for the Crimea? I’ll tell you. If they had had a third option, a significant proportion would likely have gone for that [maybe not given how over 90% said yes] and the Americans and their EU puppets would have used it as evidence to again push against Russia.

      These politicians still chant the same old slogans and still think we believe them. The oft repeated lie…. like Cleggy with his up drawbridge repeated statements. Bloody liars the lot.

  8. Mike Spilligan says:

    I am very disturbed by the events in Ukraine and Crimea and especially the way they’re being reported here in the UK.. Other commenters above have alluded to this, but, for example, a Telegraph report a few days ago was captioned (paraphrased) Does Russia want a new cold war? The “new cold war” was initiated by the EU by pretending to Ukrainians that “joining the EU” is their answer to poverty and by pretending that they could do so almost instantly. There were almost certainly “western” (US/ EU?) funded provocateurs causing the riots in Kyiv which led to the downfall of a legally-elected government. Another example: today: Cameron has said that the Crimean plebiscite was held “under the barrel of a Kalashnikov”. What evidence does he have for this aggravating statement,which to me seems to have been made to stir up trouble further.?
    I know a couple of Crimean Russians whose ancestors have been there for many generations and have, under increasing Ukrainian bravado inspired by the EU, been subjected to minor assaults on the streets, and it would only have got worse. Putin had little option for his action. Russia has a legal presence in Crimea with its Black Sea fleet and the special status of the City-State of Stavropol.
    I could go on with another half-dozen points, but I believe that the “regime-change” by other means has been deliberately engineered by “the west” who are now in full propaganda mode. There seem to be no nay-sayers in the MSM, but their commenters are tearing them to pieces.

  9. neilfutureboy says:

    As long time opponent of aggressive military adventures (ie I supported Falklands, Kuwait Afghanistan as a punitive raid but not Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya or Syria) I find it interesting that expressed public opinion is so overwhelmingly opposed to this adventure – and I mean commenters on all sorts of blogs not just “right wing” UKIPers.

    I think this is as much a sign of how corrupt and discredited our entire current political class is thought of as it is of the merits of the situation. This does not bode well for those isolated in the Westminster village.

    • Roger Helmer MEP says:

      Thanks Neilfutureboy. But please don’t keep repeating the Guardian’s lazy and thoughtless characterisation of UKIP as “right wing” (thank you at least for the quotation marks!). We’re doing as well in Labour areas as in Tory areas, because we’re Common Sense, not left or right.

      • Me_Again says:

        In fairness to Neil, Roger he put parentheses around the ‘right wing’, I think to distance himself from it being what he thought.

  10. johnd2008 says:

    The 3 basic requirements for a nation are , a secure food supply, a secure energy supply and the means and determination to defend the national borders. None of our current political leaders have any idea beyond enriching themselves and enjoying the trappings of power. UKIP seems to be at least facing in the right direction.

  11. dave roderick says:

    geoge osborne,s closing words at the end of the budget :
    “The forecasts I’ve presented show:
    growth up almost ( entirely in services)
    jobs up (but hours worked massively down)
    the deficit down and the National Debt spiralling rapidly upwards
    Now we are securing Britain’s economic future with:

    manufacturing promoted manufacturing as a % of the UK economy is precisely where it was four years ago – tiny.
    working rewarded but on lower wages across the board.
    saving supported er, with Zirp rates.
    With the help of the British people we’re turning our country around. No, you’re turning logic upside down

    We’re building a resilient economy.” No chum, you’re electioneering.

  12. dave roderick says:

    a long read h/t the slog but worth the effort

    Two major heist tunnels were dug and then hidden by those behind yesterday’s Budget. One gives the HMRC carte blanche to extract “owed” monies from personal bank accounts; the other abolishes all the pension safety rules in favour of giving private pensioners the freedom to take the entire pot to cash….and then lose it when the next bank failure demands a bailin.

    Quite a lot of people spotted a Scud flying under the radar in George Osborne’s Budget leech sorry speech yesterday. Last year, I posted several times about Troika fanatics putting pension theft onto the table during “negotiations” with the Samaras Coalition…and floating the idea of going direct to the providers – without bothering to inconvenience the pensioners with needless anxieties about it.

    It looks like Osborne was taking copious notes during his stay at Davos last month. Hidden in 5-point flyshit at the rear of the official Budget document is this gem: ‘“The Government will modernise and strengthen HMRC’s debt collection powers to recover financial assets from the bank accounts of debtors who owe over £1,000 of tax.”

    Words like wedge, thin and end come to mind. Bear in mind that – in many such cases – the amount allegedly owed will be no more than an HMRC opinion. And we all know how often their opinion is wrong….spookily, almost always in their favour. Note also that there is no reference at all to tax cheats both corporate and personal who evade millions….merely a figure starting at £1,000. It truly is laughable.

    But rather more important here is the principle of the Revenue having automatic access to a private individual’s bank account. This would be bad enough on its own were it not for another clause most observers missed. Under new proposed drawdown rules, savers will not only be able to take a quarter of their pension as a tax-free lump sum, they will have a choice of three further options: taking it ALL as cash, subject to ordinary rates of income tax; buying an annuity; or leaving the fund invested in the stock market and making unlimited withdrawals as required. The ability to take the whole pension as one lump of income would mean someone with a £100,000 pension could take £25,000 tax-free and then withdraw the remaining £75,000 to spend or invest as they saw fit.

    And it would, of course, mean that under a bank-failure bail-in, that person would be seen as a creditor. So, with the precedent set by the HMRC and the rape of Cyprus, um, well – a nod’s as good as a wink to a blind horse.

    It beggars belief that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was able to steamroller this complete change of direction through, without being forced by law to make the clause clear to all concerned. Every single Parliamentary convention and financial law would make such behaviour in the private sector a criminal offence.

    Consider this example: an upcoming retiree of limited means with a small private pension finds himself with a wife whose chronic illness has been means-tested and found to be unfundable by the NHS. So Mr Retiree grabs the Osborne carrot enthusiastically, and begins to search private hospitals for ways to ensure his spouse is comfortable. But the following week, RBS collapses, his account is frozen – and he loses the lot.

    Don’t tell me that Georgie-Porgie and the other sociopaths in the Treasury and at the HMRC haven’t thought this one through. (If they haven’t, why introduce it now?)

    I will continue to repeat the following assertion, and I care not a jot if those walking around with their eyes and ears shut think it to be melodramatic paranoia. We are witnessing a hidden but accelerating coup here. Having sold the family silver in the 1980s and let loose unregulated bankers on the world, the political class is now burning the furniture in order to keep the tramp steamer heading for any port in a storm.

    The next step will be to rip the shirts from our backs, followed by the underwear. This will reduce economic consumption to near zero…as it has in Greece, Spain and Italy. But these lunatics don’t care: they just want enough munneee to buy gated glitz bricks, gold, arable land and rare earth materials before everything goes flushing down to the sewer.

    Only then, floating along in the sewer with the other turds, will they feel at ease….and safe.

    Earlier at The Slog: Floods that can’t happen in Ebbsfleet, er, happening.

    Rate this:

    • Brin Jenkins says:

      Thanks for flagging this up, most had missed it completely. A mattress sounds a safer bet these days

      • Ex-expat Colin says:

        Its all awaiting moderation…is it not?

      • Me_Again says:

        Probably pays more interest Brin. I can get 0.0% from my mattress, beats the 0.0 with the bank but excludes the possibility of corporate theft…………

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