LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott: EU values are in stark contrast to Putin’s

European FlagLiberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber Edward McMilan-Scott, who is also the European Parliament’s Vice President for Human Rights, has been writing in the Yorkshire Post about the contest between the values of the EU and those of Vladimir Putin. The EU is built on democracy and liberal values while Putin seeks to build a Eurasian alliance built on homophobia and nationalism.

To understand what is happening in the Ukraine, we have to know something of President Putin’s Eurasian dream that is steering events. This involves the establishment of a post-Soviet Russian empire and the downfall of Western liberal global domination.

Putin’s guru is Aleksander Dugin, a political scientist. Dugin has spent a number of years pushing his ‘Fourth Political Theory’ to replace liberalism – which he considers to be dominant in today’s world – after the collapse of fascism and then communism. In short, it is nationalist, anti-liberal, anti-EU and homophobic.

On March 26, I was one of the Brussels foreign policy audience at President Obama’s only speech during his swing through Europe, including talks on the Ukrainian crisis with EU and Nato personnel.

Obama spoke firmly about Ukraine and fervently about Western values, an explicit rebuke to Putin. My neighbours at the speech were top officials from the EU and Nato’s political teams: they confirmed that to Putin, Ukraine is an essential component of the Eurasian Union.

Putin first described his vision in October 2011, when he talked about a strategic partnership with the EU. Sadly, despite enormous efforts, the EU has been unable to develop a working relationship with Putin. Instead, he prefers to deal directly with power-brokers like German politicians or the bosses of companies essential to Russia’s main source of income, oil and gas.

The EU’s offer of an Association Agreement to Ukraine was no surprise to anyone, least of all Putin. It simply gave him an excuse to foment violence. It is not the EU which has blood on its hands, but Putin.

We are entering a new Cold War and Crimea was a defining point. A malign and manifestly corrupt new power is seeking to aggrandise itself at our cost. A Eurasian Union will not be built on the EU’s values of human rights, democracy and individual freedoms. It will be built on nationalism. In the Eurasian Union not all men will be born equal.

Before we closed for our own elections, the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted a resolution confirming that the EU would not close the door to Ukraine becoming a member of the EU – and that applies any other European state, such as Russia – provided that they adhere to the EU’s fundamental principles.

You can read the whole article here. 

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  • Melanie Harvey 8th May '14 - 10:50pm

    I dont believe either the EU or Putin are the ones who technically have blood on their hands, given the many articles and considerations both historical and modern I have seen.

  • Chris Manners 8th May '14 - 11:49pm

    So where does a revolution including the Ukranian version of Combat 18 in a very prominent role fit into EU values?

  • Richard Dean 9th May '14 - 12:56am

    … and where do Russian separatists running a referendum against Putin’s wishes fit with Putin’s Eurasian plan?

    It seems important to properly understand Dugin’s politics and influence, but I don’t get the impression that this is being achieved. Russia presumably needed a vision after the collapse of its dominant one – communism – and Russians probably can’t face the utter humiliation of copying everything Western. So they invent a “fourth way”. Or is that too simplistic an explanation? Maybe the philosophy is just cover for a continuing oligarchy?

  • @Richard Dean: Don’t be naïve. Putin is saying one thing to the European (and especially German) press and quite another to his puppets in eastern Ukraine. There is no chance that they are doing anything “against [his] wishes.” We have already seen this happen in round 1, with the Geneva talks; Putin was supposed to instruct the Russian fifth column to abandon their occupation of Ukrainian government buildings, but of course never did anything of the sort, and then blamed the Ukrainians for trying to reassert government control over government property (something we take for granted, and hardly imagine to be a violation of our rights). We are not looking at a failure on Putin’s part, but the craft of a stage magician, who distracts you with his patter so that you don’t watch his hands.

    As for the Russian political situation: Liberalism was never really given a chance in Russia. From the beginning, it was confounded with neoliberalism, and blamed for the excesses which occurred in the immediate post-communist era; then the authoritarian vision of Putin, not liberalism, was put forward to the West as the only thing that could keep communism from resurging; and now Russian voters are basically given only three choices: neocommunism (of a reactionary nationalist variety); fascism; and Putin’s nationalist authoritarianism. All three models basically agree on their vision of an aggressive, threatening, quasi-autarkic Russia at the center of an anti-European bloc of its own making. Liberal ideas are squelched before they ever reach the public, by manipulation of the media, of the voting rules, and of the vote itself. Russia allows no questioning of the artificially-maintained nationalist consensus. But these views should not be taken as emerging from the opinions of ordinary Russians, but rather as imposed upon them; they are repeated without question because there are no alternatives and no comprehension of another point of view.

  • Richard Sangster 9th May '14 - 7:43am

    UKIP’s values are not liberal, so no wonder Farage admires Putin.

  • Richard Dean 9th May '14 - 9:26am

    @David-1. I would probably be a little less cynical (a) if this article had tried to do more than simply push the buttons of nationalist, anti-liberal, anti-EU, and homophobic, and (b) if the evidence was strong that the Russian nationalists in Eastern Ukraine really are taking orders from Putin (or vice versa).

  • Jenny Barnes 9th May '14 - 11:41am

    But the EUs offer of an association agreement was rejected by the democratically elected government, probably because it involved a good deal of enforced austerity and neo-liberalism… at which point there was a coup. Was the Ukrainian/Maidan coup orchestrated by US backed NGOs? I’m reminded of the overthrow of Mossadeq, followed by years of the corrupt Shah regime, followed by the Islamic republic. Sometimes people really don’t like the results of the values of the West. Maybe they are misguided, but what was that about democracy? Or does it only count when somebody we like is elected?

  • Paul Reynolds 9th May '14 - 12:10pm

    Thank you Edward I support your point about Putin and Dugin and their obsession with ‘precedent’ in keeping former Soviet states under Moscow’s colonial control. We have seen this in action in Moldova, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and now Ukraine. The EU states have a delicate balance to strike. In the longer run Russia will be an ally of the EU and there is likely to be further economic integration. That is a key context for Ukraine. But for that to be fully beneficial we have to look beyond the dangers of Putin and his often hysterical WW2 style domestic propaganda tools – the reason why he was so focused on 100% media control. He won’t be there for ever. The alternative to a longer term ‘despite Putin’ strategy in the EU may be an unholy China-Russia strategy where one provides the resources and the other adds value … keeping the oligarchs in power for generations. So for the EU we have no choice but to play the long game with skill and subtlety.

    However, ‘the West’ is not homogenous, a fact Putin has tried to exploit. Victoria Nuland (something of a rabid Neocon at times) made it clear that the US was dismissive of the EU’s delicate long term agenda. Her colorful language made it clear that instead, the US State Dept military and all the various security institutions were going to bring their successfultrack record to bear in winning Ukraine for the West, So we can expect all the successful experience of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia to be applied to the Ukraine, regardless of the interests of EU members.

  • Andrew Colman 9th May '14 - 12:39pm

    Where were these EU democratic values when the EU Heirachy were pressurising the Greeks into Austerity to save the German bankers from their bad loans.

  • @ Richard S

    “UKIP’s values are not liberal, so no wonder Farage admires Putin.”

    You conflate admiration of a politician for success in standing up for Russia’s national interest (as perceived by the vast majority of its people) with support for his wider kleptocratic, corrupt dictatorship, and his wider defects as a man. But you knew that all the time. Is intellectual dishonesty a “liberal” value? 🙂

  • Edward’s article notes “… the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted a resolution confirming that the EU would not close the door to Ukraine becoming a member of the EU – and that applies any other European state, such as Russia – provided that they adhere to the EU’s fundamental principles.

    That approach, and a comprehensive set of agreements between the EU and Russia about oil and gas, today’s equivalent of coal and steel in 1950, should be the reset in our relations. The EU should start talking across Putin to his own downtrodden people, making the case for a Europe united and free.”

    This makes a lot of sense to me. Throughout the cold war many (most) of the general public in the West came to understand that Russians thought pretty much along the same lines as the rest of us and when the chance came to ditch authoritarian one party communist rule, they grabbed in with both hands. They take pride in their country – its history, culture, their leading role in the defeat of Nazi Germany and in the roots of Russian societal values in Orthodox Christianity.

    It is why I am sceptical of wider economic sanctions, that go beyond targeting of individuals associated with Putin, aimed at the wider Russian economy. They may only serve to cause resentment and entrenchment among the general Russian public. We do need to take the long-term view, as Paul Reynolds, advocates; be wary of permanent rifts and over the top rhetoric; focusing on the need for a mutually beneficial reset in our relations.

    Russia will always be part of Europe – In my opinion, a strategy based on a isolationist Eurasian future that incorporates Ukraine is doomed to failure and Putin with it. Europe need only patiently bide its time until, as with communism, the Russian people decide they have had enough of Dugin’s ‘Fourth Political Theory’.

  • Toby Fenwick 9th May '14 - 3:55pm

    @Paul – I agree with the first half of this, but I don’t think that Nuland was actually proposing to use force to return Crimea to Ukraine (legal though this would be, if at the request of a legitimate Ukrainian government).

    For me, Putin is gambling on western inaction to take what he can whilst he can. Putin knows that his Russia is in the process of a demographic implosion, and that beyond the hydrocarbons and some elements of the military sectors Russia’s economy is deeply uncompetitive. As a consequence, nationalism is his opiate and on VE Day we see this in full cry. But as we’ve seen so many times, nationalism doesn’t feed anyone, or transform economies – so ultimately Putin’s Russia will have to change, and we need as the UK and as Europe to hold open the door when those with values like ours come to the fore.

  • A Social Liberal 10th May '14 - 12:05pm

    @ Jenny Barnes

    Your post does not reflect what actually happened. The democratically elected government were all set to sign an agreement with the EU on association, it had passed through parliament and all was ready to be implemented. Then, the week before the signing ceremony was due to take place Ukraines foreign minister was approached by the Russian bully boys and, in what can only be seen as a direct consequence of what the Russians said, Yanukovych reversed their parliaments decision.

    This is what the Ukrainian people who demonstrated in Independence Square for over three months were arguing against, for most of that time peaceably. It was only with the onset of the Ukrainian secret police opening fire on the protesters that violence became prevalent. To call this a coup is to misrepresent the facts.

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