BY VADIM STELKOV
It seems to be the season for blaming Russia for everything. And no doubt, though it may come as a shock to civvy street, there is substance in the losing Democrats’ claims of the US elections being disrupted by Putin’s Russian hackers – and Obama political appointees in US intelligence agencies have confirmed as much. The extent of Russia’s hacking is a known unknown; it would seem unlikely that Russian interference propelled Donald Trump into the White House any more than American voters’ memory of Bill Clinton’s penchant for Gurkha cigars.
While Russia should be seen as the global menace that it is, one would be naïve to think that destabilising and diminishing adversaries or targets is not a classic gambit used by Russia, China, Israel, the US, the UK and other countries’ intelligence agencies. The same is true of “honey trapping” and “kompromat” (compromising politicians, business leaders, civil servants and so forth). Sorry to shatter your innocence, but this is all SOP – standard operating procedure.
As for the Russians, well why not coolly ask yourself what does Putin want?
The answer is he wants to stay in power. Putin has only been able to rebuild his military and to stay in power due to oil and gas revenue. Putin has a problem that the expansion of his military, new equipment, more soldiers, more operational expenditures in Ukraine and Syria, all cost money and the Russian economy is flat-lined. This aggressive policy needs to be bankrolled and Russia’s largest exportable commodities are oil and gas, but the price of oil & gas has tanked and only slightly recovered recently.
Russia has only been able to project its power and have its intelligence agents manipulate foreign countries due its control of the majority of natural gas used by continental Europe. Any sanctions that hurt Russia as well as any international groupings that threaten Russia – whilst significant – are mere sideshows compared to the core natural gas issue on which Putin’s power hinges.
So where is Putin’s reach most obviously seen?
Take the example of Scotland’s SNP:
Grangemouth Refinery owed by Ineos has around 1,400 employees and is critical to providing industrial chemicals. Ineos is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of chemicals and oil products, with sales of $45 billion, employing 15,000 people. Today Ienos imports US Shale Gas as feedstock. Jim Radcliffe, Ineos’ CEO, has tried to get fracking approved in Scotland to replace oil and gas lost from downgrading of the North Sea. This was a no-brainer for Scotland – to save and expand Scottish jobs whilst providing energy security for the UK, but inexplicably the SNP has blocked and outlawed fracking in Scotland. Despite pleas from Ineos to embrace shale gas drilling, the Scottish government moratorium on the practice remains in place, in contrast to the pro-fracking stance of the UK government. The Scottish Parliament voted to support an outright ban on fracking in June 2016 after SNP MSPs abstained.
Not the Scottish economy, not the workers, not UK consumers or UK small business. The only beneficiaries are the Russians.
The Russians started the SNP Scottish adventure decades ago in order to create leverage in the elimination or control of gas competition. UK and EU natural gas this winter is increasingly supplied not by US LNG as some had predicted, but by slight increases in North Sea production from both the UK and Norway sectors and, for the first time, a sudden surge of Russian gas.
There are approximately 145,000 jobs in Scotland dependent on oil/ gas production, transport, processing and manufacturing of products based on petrochemicals. As those jobs are lost who benefits?
The political playing field in Scotland, reliant on the prejudicial Barnett formula, is about dependent citizens and who can provide the most giveaways. The SNP knows the more giveaways it can muster and the more dependent citizens it creates, the greater its influence and the greater the cost to the rest of the UK (hurting Russia’s real old enemy residing in Whitehall).
It is completely clear that many of the key players in the SNP hierarchy are “fellow travellers” and have been influenced, funded and directed by Russian Intel. Sputnik’s UK HQ is even based in Edinburgh. Should Brits not be getting answers as to why Alex Salmond has been openly admiring of Putin and made multiple visits to Moscow?
Scottish Independence would be a dream come true for Putin, as Jonathan Foreman’s pre-Indie referendum nightmare so eloquently imagines. It is not a surprise that people have commented that Sturgeon is a combination of Gidget and Rosa Klebb.
Wake up and smell the coffee, people.