'Western sanctions against Russia may boost Eurasian Economic Union'
RT:Are we seeing a coordination in terms of
response? Angela Merkel was saying that everything is as normal,
France is saying that Russia should be kicked out of the G8. That
was denied by Merkel. So are we seeing some sort of unity?
Martin Sieff: Not really. We are seeing coordination between the US, Britain and France. They are pretty much on the same page. But Germany is a key player in Europe and Germany is energy-dependent on Central Asia and on gas that comes from Siberia and also from other parts of Eurasia through Russia. And Angela Merkel is all aware of this. So Germany is taking a much more cautious position. So there is not consensus between Berlin and Brussels or between Berlin and Washington.
RT:What about the threat of sanctions? Can they hurt the Russian economy?
MS: It will be very unwise for the rest of the G8 to go ahead and push for sanctions against Russia. It could be damaging to the Russian economy. But if that was the case, it would not be destabilizing for Russia. What would then happen is that the Eurasian Economic Union would accelerate in scale very rapidly. And Russia’s ties with China and India or Iran would not be negatively affected at all. Also, Russia would not play ball with the US and Western Europe on energy issues. This could backfire very badly on the West.
RT:President Putin made it clear Moscow's not willing to see the situation escalate and seeks a diplomatic solution. Yet, do you see Washington or Brussels giving help militarily towards this new government in Kiev?
MS: Unfortunately I think there is a real danger of this. Previous report was very significant because it shows that Brussels, which has acted with great irresponsibility throughout this whole crisis starting with last December, is finally waking up very slowly to the kind of allies it now has in Kiev. Neo-Nazis, rioters, violent revolutionaries, anti-Semites - these are very unstable people. This new national militia is a very worrying development. And more Brussels than Washington unleashed this chaos, created this Frankenstein monster and it is time they woke up to this and tried to rein it in.
RT:Could they go to any length to get Crimea back now?
MS: I don’t think they will because Russia is organized. Militarily they pose no threat to Russia or to Russian presence in Crimea whatsoever. But what they can do is create incidents that could be elements of anti-Russian violence in Ukraine, there could flashpoints and clashes in eastern Ukraine. There could be clashes on the new Ukrainian-Crimean border. And the popular pressure might well amount on President Obama to take a more forceful anti-Russian position. We already have US Air Force F-16s deployed in Poland, we have Vice-President Joe Biden sent to Poland. I think it is striking that the Vice-President was sent to Poland and not Secretary [of State] John Kerry, who would be a much more cautious and restraining influence. This is not a positive sign.
RT:Many would say that surely EU and US would recognize that element? Why on Earth would they be doing business with that sort of government?
MS: There is an enormous naivety in Washington and in Brussels, a great arrogance in Brussels. They were perfectly happy to do business with President Yanukovich, who - as your report and President Putin rightly stressed - was a democratically-elected president of a constitutional democratic free state. He finally decided that he did not want to go ahead with the association agreement with the EU. And within the matter of weeks he had been toppled in a violent revolution.
Now this is a very dangerous precedent developing in Europe and yet the European Union and senior Western politicians, including Senator John McCain, who was Republican nominee for president in 2008 in the US. They all went to Kiev and they fend the flames of the revolution. This was a very dangerous and irresponsible precedent.
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