Money & Corruption in Modern Europe
Why The EU Fears Putin

Vladimir Putin’s actions in Crimea indicate just how confident he is that he has the West over a barrel. And given how the Europeans are hesitating to impose targeted sanctions on Russia’s kleptocratic elite, his calculations may prove to be correct.

Published on: March 7, 2014
Charles Davidson is Publisher and CEO of The American Interest. Damir Marusic, publisher of the The American Interest online, contributed to this article.
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  • Jim__L

    Hm. Is it just about Russian money?

    Think about it — Say England considers freezing Russian accounts. Rationally acting Russians (with questionable money) would try to make a run on the British banks. (Maybe they would find a safe haven in allegedly friendly China, for example.) At that point, England might be forced to freeze Russian money, simply to stop the bleeding. Pre-emptively freezing the Russian money would in fact be the rational thing for them to do, in this scenario.

    Except — London may be hiding more dirty money than just Russia’s. If that’s the case, freezing Russia’s dirty money would cause a run (or walk) on the part of any other rational actor with dirty money. And Britain only has a pretext to freeze Russian / Ukrainian accounts, at the moment — the rest would walk away without anything Britain could do about it.

    Worse, such action may cause a run by rational actors who might suspect London is inclined make a habit of foreign policy pressure by asset freezing. The money doesn’t have to be dirty; it just has to come from a nation that Britain / the EU / the US / NATO wants to put pressure on.

    Could London survive that kind of exodus?

    Those may be the calculations at 10 Downing.

    • rheddles

      If so, Britain is no longer Great.

      • John Stephens

        Hasn’t been for a long time. Thatcher was the last Briton.

        • Andrew Allison

          The last Great Briton!

      • luke sampson

        Jim_L makes up an argument without any facts to attack Britain and on that basis you condemn the UK. If anything isn’t great it’s your intellect.

        John Stephens- we’ll outlast you parasites.

        • Jim__L

          Well, we’ll see if the British are or aren’t willing to freeze Russian assets. The rest I’ve freely admitted is speculation. Do you think they’re likely to go ahead with an asset freeze?

  • wigwag

    Damir Marusic, as I recall you were born in the former Yugoslavia. Unless I’m mistaken, you’ve indicated in the pages of the American Interest that you’re of Croatian heritage. In light of this, it would be interesting to hear your take on how the situation in Crimea compares with the situation in Kosovo.

    It seems to me that both Crimea and Kosovo are both break away provinces comprised of citizens of a different national background than the majority of citizens in the nation they are seeking to exit. The West bombed Serbia to force it to relinquish a province that the nation had considered an integral part of its national homeland for hundreds of years, Crimea, on the other hand had long been part of Russia until Kruschev parted with it on a whim.

    For foolish afficiandos of “international law,” the United Nations certainly hasn’t recognized Crimea’s potential divorce from Ukraine, but of course the United Nations has never recognized Kosovo’s separation from Serbia either.

    It would be interesting, Damir, to get your views on this.

    • WigWag, the Balkan wars have imbued in me a sense that norms and precedents (and ‘ideas’) matter little in the realm of international relations, except in helping shape how statesmen defend that which they really want to do anyway, and that they feel that they can get away with. Consider that the Russians were all happy to talk about the inviolability of borders—until they went and dismembered Georgia (as the Serbs looked on horrified). It’s all rhetorical cudgels, on all sides.

  • Ishmael Whale

    Unlike America the Europeans could be exposed to some significant blow-back from Russia so they have to rely on America taking a leading position on this. Why would they rely on Barack Obama? He has proven himself to be unreliable as an ally on more than one occasion. In addition, he has proven himself to be an unpredictable adversary which is even more dangerous in this situation.

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