Putin the Boogy Man

Vladimir Putin in KGB UniformI’ve been listening to Today on Radio 4. Francois Fillon has won the conservative presidential candidacy for the French president. Apparently, shock horror, he likes Margret Thatcher and is friendly with VLADIMIR PUTIN. That sounds a bit like Vlad the Impaler!

The presenter also had a jibe about Donald Trump; he also wants to do business with this monster.

He is a monster, right? He’s a Rusky, like Starlin, and therefore wants to take over the world. And he’s done all these terrible things to prove his evil intent. Lets just remind ourselves…

First off, Russian troops put down a “revolution” in Chechnya. Actually, this was an Islamist uprising, but before the West had experienced Islamist uprisings so at the time Mr Putin was portrayed as Mr Nasty. Now we don’t really want to talk about it.

Then he backed the Assad “regime” in Syria against the “rebels”. Assad was and remains the democratically elected president of the country. Sure, he tried to make war against Israel at every opportunity but that’s normal around there. Not a nice person, but democratically elected. The so-called rebels were self-appointed, and unsurprisingly, have long-since disappeared and Islamists have filled the vacuum. The West continues to condemn Russia for backing the democratically elected government against, you guessed it, the Islamist insurgents (Islamic state and the like).

“Ah”, the liberal media wail, “Russia is bombing Aleppo and civilians in the ‘rebel’ held areas are being killed.” Well there’s a war on. The “rebels” are bombing the government-held areas and killing civilians, and this is okay? And non-Russian forces are bombing rebels in Mosul, yet there they’re called Islamic State, and there is little mention of civilians.

Okay, what about annexing Crimea. Russian tanks in a foreign country. What actually happened there?

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Well in 2010 Viktor Yanukovych won the presidential election in Ukraine, beating Yulia Tymoshenko. It was considered a fair election. He won. Some people in Ukraine didn’t agree and started fighting about it a couple of years later. Reports vary, but Yulia Tymoshenko’s supporters have neo-Nazi overtones.

Ukraine was split in to the Russian-speaking Crimea and the rest, and the Russian-speaking population in Crimea was in trouble from the violence, so Putin sent in the troops to protect them, and support the democratically elected government. The West sided with the neo-Nazi rebels.

For historic reasons, Russians do no like neo-Nazis. Strangely the Western liberal media reckons they’re okay if they’re fighting against Russia.

Now I’m no more a fan of Putin than I am of most politicians. He’s got his hands dirty, to say the last. Rising up through the KGB is hardly an ideal career path for a benevolent leader, although this is how it’s been done for a long time. But when you look at the situation in Russia, there are plenty of worse candidates for president. You could say he’s the least-worst option. The Russian people like the guy; he looks out for their interests. And with the West pushing hard against Russia, who can blame them? And to cap it all, Putin is actually the defender of democracy in his foreign policy; how does he keep snatching the moral high ground from Obama?

The reason is that Obama and the West still have the “reds under the beds” attitude. Putin, on the other hand, has a different understanding of who the real enemies to freedom (or his cushy way of life) are. As do Trump and Fillon.

Let me be clear – Putin may be a gangster president and a malign influence on the world, but he’s not a lunatic and his actions are not crazy. There are actually worse candidates for the job, which should be remembered before rolling the dice.

And while we’re obsessing about Putin, we’re ignoring the real lunatics in other countries – and regimes like China.

Malaysian flight MH17 “shot down” over Ukraine?

Updated 17th July at 2320

Since writing this, I’ve been watching the superior BBC journalism on Newsnight where they had the sense to interview someone from Jane’s. Apparently the separatists do have Buk missile launchers in the area, which is surprising. Did the Russian government really provide such a dangerous weapon? And apparently (I didn’t know this) a single launcher can operate in autonomous mode using on-truck forward-facing radar. Basically a goon with no overall tactical view – watching a blip on the radar can decide to shoot down the blip. There are rumours that the US tracked such a missile. This is scary, and derails the following conjecture. I’ve kept it for historical interest.

I’ve just been listening to the BBC reporting that “someone” in the Ukraine has shot down a Malaysian airliner flying overhead at 35,000′. Okay, it’s possible, and the fact it’s crashed is certainly a tragedy, but are any of these hacks aware that this is a long way up?

There are basically three kinds of Surface to Air Missiles. Before blaming the separatists, you have to realise that the hand-portable types (MANPADS) you’d associate with rebels aren’t really any good at shooting down much apart from attack helicopters or slow things close to the ground. Basically, don’t bother if it’s more than 10,000′ up. It’s possible that they have Igla Russian systems, but they couldn’t have used them.

There are portable systems that can hit targets that high – such as the Russian Buk. These are big beasts, built in to a truck. The separatists may have got tanks from somewhere, possibly with a nod and a wink from the Russian military – but are they going to really going to let a bunch of rebels have a Buk (SA-24)? It’s not something you’re going to miss like an old tank.

Could the Ukrainian government have done it? I don’t know whether the Ukrainian military has such a system; it probably does. But again, it’s not the kind of thing you’d fire off by mistake. Shooting at high-altitude jets isn’t going to be an accident, and why would they do it in purpose? Did they think it was a Russian military aircraft? I think not, but if they did, there are some complete idiots with dangerous weapons out there.

That leaves the Russian government – did they order it shot down? The same applies – why would they do that deliberately, and if it was an accident, it beggars belief.

The BBC is talking about missiles, but it could have been shot down “old school” with a fighter. Are the Ukrainians or Russians really going to shoot down a Malaysian airliner filling the windscreen of their MiG? That’d be crazy.

So I’m taking all this “shot down” news with a pinch of salt. Perhaps it suffered a failure and crashed; perhaps it was an on-board terrorist or bomb.

I think the BBC thinks the separatists (whom they don’t like) dunnit with a Stinger.