First is Christopher Meyer's very sound piece in the Times today. He propounds the wisdom of agreeing, as did the Congress of Vienna in 1815, spheres and zones of influence. As the Ukraine, once the darling of Euro hawks, is prompting indignation at its refusal to pay $250 a unit for gas that we pay $450 a unit for and thus making Euro gas supplies a little wobbly, Russia's position appears both benign and reasonable.
Meyer, a diplomat of great experience, comments:
Something similar is needed today, based again on spheres of influence. Nato must renounce the provocative folly of being open to Georgian or, worse, Ukrainian membership. This strikes at the heart of the Russian national interest and offers no enhanced security to either Tbilisi or Kiev. As for Russia, it must be made unambiguously clear where any revanchist lunge westwards would provoke a military response by Nato.And as I commented here on 9th August last year:
Europe's purblind expansion into the Caucasus is mistaken. Europe's eastern boundary is a line that runs from the Baltic to the Aegean. Anything east of that is either Russia's natural fiefdom or needs to be strong enough to stand on its own feet without NATO and we should leave them to it.The blogosphere strongly disagreed at the time. I suspect a few may have come round to mine and Sir Christopher's view since.
Second is Robert Key's question in Parliament to the Chancellor (H/T Iain Dale) on the cost to the nation of Brown's sale of half our gold reserves. Which featured here on 27th October.
The loss isn't quite as large as the Parliamentary answer makes out - one needs to apply the GDP deflator, as I did, to get a true comparison - but it's nice to know they're catching up.