It's been estimated that the Czech sanctions against Russia would cost us about $1 billion if they continued in 2015. It's a lot of money which is one reason – and the lack of any good outcomes of the sanctions so far is another – why sensible politicians are skeptical towards sanctions, much like the top Slovak politicians.
Zeman and Putin. Yes, Zeman is currently the tallest head of a country in the world.
On behalf of their countries, Czech and Slovak PMs (Sobotka and Fico) won the right not to join future EU sanctions or their parts. President Zeman said that harder sanctions could be OK but he demands a real proof that a Russian invasion into Ukraine is underway. If there won't be real evidence, Zeman will oppose the sanctions, too.
(The deputy prime minister Babiš, a former communist agent codenamed "Bureš" and a billionaire who founded an "unideological" party ANO, also tends to be against the sanctions, partly because he is a food industry mogul. The foreign minister Zaorálek, a typical hateful socialist demagogue, insists that "we are always obliged to agree with the majority of the EU". Lots of would-be right-wing politicians – currently in the opposition – are supporting the sanctions.)
Zeman was a target of a verbal assault that shows that typical participants of the NATO summit refuse to discuss these serious issues seriously.
Karl Bildt, the Swedish minister of foreign affairs, found it unacceptable that Zeman wouldn't pay $1 billion (which is even more than the $500 monthly pension that Zeman would be receiving before he became the president) without tangible reasons. So Bildt told Zeman:
There have been two invasions, one in Crimea and one in Eastern Ukraine right now. You may ask your intelligence whether there is an invasion, Mr Zeman, if your country has any intelligence.This is of course a cute remark. According to the Swedish not so Gentleman, we may be a banana republic that doesn't have any intelligence.
It may be a nice reaction among the mindless 5th class politicians such as Karl Bildt and tons of similar trash that has filled top offices in European countries but it is not good enough from our viewpoint because it's not considered healthy here to mindlessly throw one billion dollars to the sewerage system. And yes, we have intelligence. It's called BIS. You may open the BIS website to see that no invasion is taking place.
The website shows that only two important events have taken place in the world in 2014. In February, a journalist wrote a misleading article about a telephone call of the ex-Prague mayor with his friend. And in March, one BIS agent suggested that another BIS agent could have written a few sentences in his book differently. That's it. There is clearly no invasion. ;-)
More seriously, if this should really be up to our intelligence, clearly, we won't participate in the sanctions game because our intelligence hasn't detected any invasion. Ten paratroopers who get lost somewhere near the border really aren't a solid reason to throw one billion dollars away. The Swedish intelligence doesn't have any real data supporting a Russian invasion, either. Mr Bildt is just a dishonest, useless, and worthless clown who pretends something else. Cheap attempts to humiliate everyone who actually thinks, unlike Mr Bildt, is just too bad for a politician and it suggests that Sweden, and not Czechia, is a banana republic.
You know, we know what a (mostly) Russian invasion looks like. In 1968, almost no Czechoslovak citizens owned an iPhone, a Lumia, or another cellphone with a digital camera. But if you search Google images for Prague tanks 1968, you will find as many clear photographs as you want. This is what an invasion looks like. (We also know the sceneries with friendly Russian tanks in Prague and I still think that this visit in 1945 was more important than the visit in 1968.)
If there is a similar Russian invasion into Ukraine underway, as some people claim, there should exist millions of similar photographs because millions of people own some digital cameras these days. Show me at least a few of them. There are none because the whole claim is bollocks. Bollocks designed for politicians and NATO officials to supersize-masturbate their egos and their influence and for mediocre gullible people to buy and eat this crap and to be proud about it.
If I return to Zeman and update my comments, there was a radio interview with Zeman today (Frequency 1's Press Club, to be aired on Sunday), on Friday. He said that there is no Russian army in Ukraine and there's no reason for sanctions. "Even the Czech army would be capable of shooting a few hundred Russian volunteers within a week," he wisely added. ;-) He reminded everyone that Czechoslovakia (which is much smaller than Ukraine) witnessed the arrival of 150,000 Warsaw Pact soldiers in the first wave: that is what we call an invasion. He also joked about the claim that some troops went to "holidays" because Eastern Ukraine isn't among the most pleasant tourist destinations these days. Zeman specifically quoted Lavrov as a seemingly credible source and reiterated the view that what's going on is a civil war, not an invasion. I find it likely that Zeman has made his opinions clearer than what he vaguely thought a week ago partly because Bildt has really pissed him off...
Last Saturday, Pavel Strunz, a trained physicist from the Party of the Free Citizens, wrote a good analysis of the existing evidence claimed to back the invasion claims. His text was called Lousy job of the NATO's intelligence.
He discussed the NATO page with the only evidence that has been given to the world's public. The page contained five pictures signed by "Digital Globe", a private company. (The NATO page has already been taken down from the Internet, probably because it was way too ludicrous, so the amount of publicly available evidence from the first sources is zero now. A backup of the five would-be "smoking gun" pictures is still available via the Invisible Dog.)
First of all, he mentioned that it's bizarre that NATO can't prepare its own photographs and has to use the services of a company whose "digital" name suggests that it's all about photoshopping. Second, he commented that all the pictures were from wrong dates (well before the claimed "invasion") and wrong places, sometimes from the territory of Russia, and that NATO was ludicrously building on the observation that there were Russian-produced weapons in Eastern Ukraine. Even though Barack Obama thinks that Russia doesn't make anything, it's producing weapons (among many other things) and everyone in that troubled region uses Russian weapons!
The captions under the five photographs contained the word "probably" at about 5 key places, making it pretty clear that even the super extremely weak claims they were trying to make were pure speculations. Strunz summarized his much longer analysis by saying that the credibility of NATO will be irreversibly lost unless it starts to do a proper job and offer genuine evidence backing its claims.
Incidentally, LBBW CZ, formerly a Czech branch of a German regional bank, was bought by Igor Kim and Expobank, a Russian company. (The sale was inevitable because a new crazy German law prevents similar banks from doing business abroad, e.g. in Czechia.) I have lots and lots of money over there – and complete confidence in Mr Kim as well as his company – and I would take any attempt to harass the bank or its owner because of his nationality in one way or another very personally.
Another Russian bank operating here, Sběrbank, has improved its mortgage deals. If you agree on a mortgage in that bank, you will get a cat (an alive cat) on your doorstep. Russians think that they bring good luck to a new home. Maybe they will bring good luck to the Czech customers, too. However, I am primarily wishing good luck to the people in Ukraine, regardless of their ethnicity and culture.
I hope that they will soon be opening French insecty carousels and other things, in a happy sunny but no longer tropic weather, like we did in Pilsen today. Taken with Lumia 520.