The big news today I suppose is that Ukraine has just received a mid-winter present: someone turned off the gas. The issue here seems to be not the what but the how. Ukraine has been receiving gas at incredibly subsidised rates from Russia, and there is no good reason why this should continue indefinitely. But for those of us who are worried that Russia – as a wanabee rogue state – could present possibly the most important future threat to EU stability, the way this has been done is surely far from re-assuring.
This most recent development comes hot on the back of the news that Russia wants to severely limit the freedom of movement of NGOs on its territory, and the resignation of economic adviser Andrei Illarionov, who left saying that “It is one thing to work in a partly free country, which Russia was six years ago. It is quite another when the country has ceased to be politically free” .
The big picture background is surely to be found in Russia’s Demographics, and the traumatic economic and cultural consequences that these can lead to. In the immediate term what we have to hope for is that EU ‘enlargement fatigue’ won’t have gone so far that we are unable to recognise that both our longer term strategic interest, and our shorter term political resonsibility, is to come to the aid of a Ukraine who’s ‘orange revolution’ was only yesterday the object of our praise and encouragement.