Karuvalvsus ’14: Ilves on how to deter Russia
Just outstanding stuff. Read the whole thing.
As president of a small Baltic republic that was occupied by the Soviet Union for more than four decades, Estonia’s Toomas Hendrik Ilves is all too familiar with the way Russia has treated its neighbors. For years he’s warned about the revanchist agenda and aggressive behavior of Russian President Vladimir Putin. And now that the world has seen the Kremlin’s reckless, ruthless actions in Ukraine and Crimea, influential leaders in the respectable salons of Washington, Brussels and other European capitals are starting to pay attention. Or, at least, they should be.
What’s most threatening about Russia’s behavior, in Ilves’s view, is that “the old rules don’t apply.” But it should not have taken the invasion of Crimea to get that message across. The Helsinki Accords of 1975 were supposed to have established the territorial integrity of European nations, he says, and since Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia it’s been clear that Putin would just ignore them when he saw fit.
So, where should the West focus its attention?
Ilves’ eyes light up and he repeats one word: “Banks,” he says. “Banks.”
Ilves also raises the idea of reviewing Europe’s recognition of Russian passports as “trustworthy travel documents.” A key element of Moscow’s game plan in the territories it wants to take is “passportization,” the cynical—not to mention illegal—distribution of Russian passports to citizens of other countries. That’s what it did in the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the run-up to the 2008 War. Earlier this month it did the same thing in Crimea. “If it were some other country that was a passport mill, there would be a reaction to that,” says Ilves.
And something I love so much, I’m making Mrs. ŒV stitch it on a throw pillow:
“Robert Kagan was completely off when he said Americans are from Mars, Europeans from Venus,” Ilves said, referring to Kagan’s widely discussed 2003 book, Of Paradise and Power, which postulated that the continent had adopted a post-martial worldview. “Europeans are from Pluto.”
Fight the power, Eesti.
Don’t ask impertinent questions like that jackass Adept Lu.