From Russia with love….

The UK media is obsessed with the Atlantic and its ‘cousins’ across the pond in Washington, intersperced with loose talk about an Asian century…. etc.. etc.

London prefers to ignore ‘Europe’ (which means the ‘mainland) as much as it can.

At its peril. Vladimir Putin seemingly had a love-in with NATO in Lisbon by agreeing to lots of cooperation…. Today, we see what he is really upto.

He has made an open call for strategic cooperation with Germany, adding that the US Dollar can no longer remain the world’s reserve currency. That the Euro must take equal ranking… What he really meant was that the currency held by Germany (the Euro in the short term) is what Russia is after – to tie that resource rich economy to the high-technology superpower of the world.

And that is what we are talking about….. a re-alignment of European politics where Moscow asks Berlin to ‘Look East’ and tie MittelEuropa to the Russian giant…. and as equal partners…

Margaret Thatcher was terrified of German re-unification. Do you remember her unwillingness to countenance it following the fall of the Berlin Wall?

Two decades on, Germany is the economic superpower holding Europe together in the face of the global credit, financial and economic crisis.

And Politics will follow Economics.

Which means the Germans are at most one or two bailouts away from saying Auf Wiedersehn to the current EU set up… Its people are already complaining at having the bear the strain of being the engine dragging EU countries along the track….. Influential voices are asking for a few carriages to be de-linked…… those ones with passengers from Ireland, Portugal, Greece and even Spain.

The unthinkable is becoming possible…. After all, the post-war consensus of holding down Germany in the face of a menacing Russian bear has long since broken down… or it should have.

The French and the rest have used the Lisbon Treaty and its former parts as a way of tying in Germany to a European project…. where Paris could maintian equal parity….

Germany must be wondering what it gains. The US were quite happy for an unravelling EU and thus a weaker Euro, as a junior partner…… where the role would be a European army on call and a ready market for US multinationals. The crisis may have taken this desire too far.

Russia, itself in freefall fifteeen years ago, now sees a new role where it has two economic superpowers on either side. Germany to the West. China to the East.

With its unlimited resources and space, Russia has cards up its sleeve.

Putin will probably become President again. In any case, Medvedev was head of Gazprom, so there is solid continuity in Russian policy.

The leaderships in Germany posses many German speakers. The Russian leaders speak German.

London may not be saying anything. It better. The Russian rich may be happy to play in Londongrad for a few years more. There are 300,000 Russians in the city too. However, the medium term suggests that geo-politics is shifting in Europe.

Giscard and the Lisbon Treaty may have seen its best moments.A bit like Thatcher in 1990, they haven’t noticed that the ground is shifting below their feet….

The world is about to move this decade…… and whatever happens… Germany is the decisive force………and that Russians know it.

Farid Bakht



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