Stephen Hill says Vladimir Putin is playing geopolitics like Hitler did – and we all need to beware
Putin's signature is no more credible than Hitler's was in 1939: for Munich, now read Minsk. Standard & Poor's and Moody's say Russia is junk. It's worse than that, however, as readers of these blogs already know: Putin has now got himself into a cul-de-sac of conquest to maintain his credibility at home.
This credibility will be endangered this week if, as expected, further Western sanctions are designed to cut off the ability of Russia's economy to operate at all – as global giants like Gazprom and Rosneft find overnight that they cannot roll over their debts, or even transfer funds internationally.
Putin needs to serve up conquests to keep his people behind him. He will first back the separatists to take over Mariupol's harbour and cement his landmass to the Crimea. After taking Debaltseve's strategic railway lines, the separatists are already heading further west into Dnepropetrovsk Oblast.
Here there is a lot of uranium stockpiled at Pavlohrad, the SALT III centre for decommissioning former USSR missile heads, and Dnepropetrovsk itself is the home of the Cold War's deadly SATAN SLSS 23 and SS24 ICBMs, which are shot into the stratosphere: its MIRV bombs can then each take out up to ten city centres from Chicago to Washington, or anywhere, with an accuracy of 500 metres.
Putin's troops are already over the Caucasus, on the pretext of playing peacemakers between the ever-simmering disputes between the Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Putin couldn't care less about either, any more than he could about the fate of the trapped submariners on the Kursk: when asked about the incident on Larry King Live, Putin replied 'It sank!'
But what's he doing over the Caucasus? Interfering with the West's determination to end the uranium enrichment progamme in neighbouring Iran. Putin wants the US and the bewildered EU out of Iran, and Russia in, which is why he needs Crimea as his strategic arsenal, as he looks East to his new gas-driven empire.
Meanwhile, Putin is planning to cut off the gas to southern Europe (read Germany) in retaliation against further Western sanctions, as the illiquid Ukraine hasn't paid, cannot pay, its gas-transfer bills, as it has been bankrupted by corruption in the Putinist style – it's just that Russia has a lot of gas and so a lot of dosh to fund Putin's kleptocracy.
This is all developing into a very ugly scene, politically, economically and militarily, and is the sort of muddle over seemingly practically nothing at all – the Maidan Revolution – that starts wars and wider conflicts.
Economically, it will spread more deflation into the EU and hurt market sentiment globally. And militarily NATO has no resolve to face up to the new global gangster, Putin, over eastern Ukraine, as it pretends to strengthen the Baltic States instead. All sounds a bit too familiar – remember 1938 and the Sudeten Deutschland?