THE RUSSIAN ROULETTE (letter to the editor)

I was somewhat surprised to see your article on Russian economic  ties with the Caribbean and Jamaica.  As far as I am aware Russia is not a democracy, but an arm of the Communist Party in that country.  In itself, this is not a problem, but it means dealing with their president, leader, dictator, or whatever, Vladimir Putin. Further the principles that enshrine democracy have no substance in Russia.

But let me first recall our existing trade relationship: Russian interests now own a significant portion of our bauxite alumina assets. Two years ago, I was invited to a luncheon, and happened to ask their Ambassador and the Head of Rusal AC the Aluminium Conglomerate, when are we likely to see the rebirth of Alpart and Kirkvine plants. We were told very shortly, just waiting on the market to settle down.  I also understand that Rusal is a recipient of some US$30,000 each year, for their services, from the Jamaican Government.

This has been in place for two years, in spite of an increase in aluminium prices, and these plants are virtually in mothballs. Our experience in this business, suggests that Russia does not seem able to support its commitments.

Then there are other relevant factors: A joint venture in Aluminium Smelting in Nigeria, which cannot be supported for lack of energy. Gas, (LNG) is not viable, and other fuel supplies  are needed; Rusal does not seem to be interested as before in the joint venture, and Rusal seem to be winding down in Nigeria. This is another joint venture which may be frustrated.

Newspaper reports last year alleged that the management of United Company (UC) RUSAL, is under tension over reports that the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) might recommend the termination of its operations in Nigeria, for failing to meet the terms of agreement as the core investor in ALSCON. (Aluminium Smelter).

  Now, we have to consider Syria and the Ukraine, from whom Russia needs safe harbour for its naval fleets. For decades Syria’s rulers have been friends with the Soviet Union, so Syria and Russia stand with each other. Syria buys weapons with Russia, and has established lines of communication. Syrian culture is now being interspersed with Russian, being an oil supplier,  educator, and mentor. Russia has made the speaking of Russian by the Syrians mandatory within five years. Putin has backed  Assad’s position in this war which has led to thousands of innocents being killed, millions being left homeless. I think that as the situation develops the average Syrian Arab will be subservient to the elite citizens  in Syria and Russia.

There is a hostile relationship between Russia and the Ukraine, consequent to the invasion of Russia in the Crimea, and Ukraine, and the Tatars view Russia with suspicion. Putin’s pretext was that the Ukraine owed US$ 3.50 billion, which it could not collect.

Putin has recently made the comment that he will seek rapprochement with the Ukraine at the next UN conference this year, and following the next election results, it would seem that the Ukraine will get its country back, but not necessarily Crimea which has voted to stay with the Russians. 

 To summarise the facts, you are considering a full economic partnership with Russia (which will not reject China’s investment so far), In spite of the fact that  there were invasions into Crimea and the Ukraine  with around one hundred and twenty fatalities. I wish to point out “that if you lie down with Dog, you will get fleas.” So, verbum sat sapienti  est.

(594 words)

 

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