We have just been witness to a fabulous exercise of “Real – Chess” RealPolitik – played by Grand Master Putin against both Greece and the EU. Obama and Clinton should learn.
Greece wanted to offer favors to Russia by breaking the EU sanctions against Ukraine in exchange for economic benefits to Greece in order to scare the Euro Group into giving Greece 7.2 billion Euros and pass on its reform demands on Greece.
How easy it would have been for Putin to play along. But Putin passed on the immediate potential benefit.
Instead, Russia cajoled Greece into being the new entry point into Europe for its new gas pipeline thereby completely gutting the EU’s sole meaningful economic pressure point against Russia over Ukraine and leaving Ukraine to wither on the vine.
And this master stroke Putin attained at no cost. Instead Russia turned Greece into a vassel for this much bigger gain to Russia with no present cost to Russia and leaving Greece with nothing but future scraps – a pipeline transmission commission.
Greece is bankrupt. Greece was saved twice by its fellow EURO Group members from this bankruptcy. The Euro group thought is was necessary in order to save their new Euro. Finally,after long years into it, the Euro Group has come to learn 2 things. First, it wasn’t able to save Greece with 2 tries; and it can’t save Greece from Bankruptcy with a third try.
The EURO Group couldn’t admit to this, because it has been afraid of harm to their Euro. But, as part of “can’t save Greece from bankruptcy”, the Euro zone has also come to realize that it will still need to throw more, lots more, “good” money after the “bad” it has already thrown away on Greece – never to see any of it again. Further it realizes that it will never see the 240 billion it has already loaned. But, to top it off, the Euro Group still can’t politically admit to any of this.
In these circumstances, Greece reckoned it had two alternate paths: be a supplicant to its benefactors; or engage its lenders in combat. Since their object was to have their cake and eat it too (both get more money and continue on as before their economically unsustainable socialist state) Greece chose to approach its partners not as supplicant asking “please, sir, more sir”, but has taken the 180 degree opposite tack. Greece has followed a two – pronged combative approach – both to get more money and to also get out from under what it has already gotten from its partners.
These combat Greek “Knights” have engaged in a course of divide and conquer among its partners to win allies by trying to get some countries to follow their path of not paying back and having their government free-spending life-style financed by their rich partners. They have pursued a parallel course of threaten, bully, embarass and distract its biggest benefactor, Germany, to overcome German fiscal restraint demands.
These brave Greek Knights have been mostly unsuccessful in their divide and conquer strategy with the Euro Group.
And, so instead of returning to the path of supplicant, Greece set out to try and divide and conquer by going outside its Euro Group partners and finding a bully to divide them.
The spoiler was to be Russia. Tsipras thought he was so clever that he could ‘make Russia an offer Russia couldn’t refuse.’ Tsipras’ offer: “hey, you know that EU sanctions against Russia because of invading and taking over Ukraine need a unanimous vote; they are coming right up for renewal and will not be renewed if we withhold our vote! Good deal for you, Russia. Just give us money; lots of money. Give us a loan of billions; give us exemption from the EU food embargo – worth hundreds of millions to Greece; give us a discount on oil and gas – again worth hundreds of millions.
Tsipras thought he was so clever that he might benefit at both ends: The Euro Group would be so worried that they would cave on their reform demands and Greece would then get 7.2 billion more from them without any Greek reforms. This would keep Tsipras in power.
Only the Greek Knights ran into the Great Wall of Chess Master Putin. The only meaningful EU sanction against Russia had been denial of an alternate European route for a ne gas line that didn’t go through the Ukraine. Putin’s conquest plan for all of Ukraine also hinges on getting the Russian pipeline out of Ukraine and into Europe by a different route. And he found it: first with a NATO “partner” Turkey to help strangle Ukraine and the EU; and now Greece – the backdoor into Europe.
And in the end, the Greeks got nothing from Russia; and probably will get nothing but Schadenfreude from the Euro Group.
And does any sane American believe that Putin will pull anything but a Greek Chess Match on the likes of clueless Obama or RE-SET Clinton?