Monday, July 16, 2007

Testing Compartmentalization

Britain is expelling four Russian diplomats because the Russian government has refused the extradition request for Andrei Lugovoy, the prime suspect in the poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko.

Both Gordon Brown and Vladimir Putin are now faced with a question. Does Moscow accept the British response as limited and proportionate to London's very clear anger at the Kremlin's unwillingness to accede to its request? At what point does London decide that this case cannot overshadow other very important British interests (not the least of which is the growing economic interdependence between the two countries). Can London sanction sections of "official Russia" but not interrupt the continued flow of "private-sector Russia" into Britain--which does not only benefit Russia but the UK as well? Will Gordon Brown ask for solidarity from his European and American colleagues in putting pressure on Russia? Will the Kremlin decide that, if it does not extradite Lugovoy, it should undertake a much more transparent and thorough investigation that would satisfy Britain's concerns?

Will we see ripple effects in the US-Russia and German-Russia relations?

Overall, are we now on autopilot--the way that train mobilization schedules drove declarations of war in 1914--or can this crisis be navigated?

Compartmentalization is not going to work becasue the Russians are going to respond by a series of their own expulsions and so the ante gets upped, instead of just having this be the final word.
us needs to be careful in getting involved since us not going to sned its military people to european courts to face tribunals anytime soon
One point, anonymous 1:26 PM. The US claims this right for people who were acting with legitimate authority of the USG and under its orders--not private citizens. If Russian government wants to say Lugovoi was acting in an official capacity, they should do so. Otherwise this is apples and oranges.
With regard to German-Russian links which have been weakened after Schröder's defeat in 2005, it seems interesting that Brown now made his first visit to Germany (instead of beginning with the traditional trip to Washington to honour the "special relationship").

Does this imply that we will see a strenghtened German-British effort to tame Russia? Some interesting remarks can be found in today's article on the Atlantic Community, which furthermore calls for comments:

Will Brown's Dinner With Merkel Leave Bush Hungry?
Thanks for the link, Lars. Goes against the DC conventional wisdom that Europeans in tightening up against Russia will automatically move closer to US. Also today see poll data is out that most Poles oppose the missile shield and we can't say that Poland is a Russophile country.
Nik, did you see RIchard Beeston's comment in the Times on this:

Interesting that he titles it Britain picks a fight it cannot win.
But... Britain will win, because it is part of the glorious West, and deserves low-cost Russian energy now that the North Sea production is dropping like a rock off a cliff. And its gonna get worse, as Russian energy exports decline (The Russian economy is growing fast, and needs more energy more than in needs Dollars or Euros, of which it already has plenty).

And considering the level of strategic acuity that got us into the two wars we are now losing, I would not rule out the West undertaking another Barbarossa in an attempt to keep the Russians from wasting our energy on their own needs how dare they even think of it!
OK, Nik, you have your answer. Four British diplomats getting the boot. Now what happens?
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