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By Philippe Legrain ADD COMMENTS

My old friend Edward Lucas has written an excellent call to arms, The New Cold War, about the dangers to the West and Russia itself of the country’s fascist turn under Putin.

For Europe, in particular, the risks of becoming dependent on a hostile Kremlin through its growing dominance of gas supplies to the continent are huge. Yet the Russian industrial-military complex is successfully proceeding to divide and rule Europe: witness Gazprom’s hugely expensive plans for a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, bypassing the Baltics and Poland, which the former German chancellor, Gerhard Schroder, is ignominiously chairing. Since a pipeline on land would cost a fraction as much, the Nordstream pipeline makes no commercial sense. It’s true purpose is surely to give Russia greater power to blackmail its former vassals.

In today’s news, consider the divisions over whether NATO should grant Ukraine and Georgia "membership action plans" that would open the door to their eventual membership. Russia aggressively objects. While there is a reasonable debate to be had about whether Ukraine and Georgia should be admitted to NATO – personally, I think they should – Russia should not be given a veto over what its neighbours and NATO do. Appeasing Russia for the sake of NATO "unity" would be shameful and unwise.

Posted 31 Mar 2008 in Blog

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