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Alexandr Litvenenko killed by polonium 210!

 
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 09:09 am
Indeed he did..

Quote:

Odd.
0 Replies
 
Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 09:24 am
Its more than odd. The whole thing stinks of skullduggery of the highest order.

I think it just shows how weak and ineffectual Britain has become.

By insisting on the extradition of Lugovoi, Britain is effectively accusing Moscow of waging nuclear terrorism on British soil.

The Russians just say get lost. (And think about the gas).
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 11:21 am
I don't think this indicates any particular weakness on Britain's part. Instead it is an illustration of the lingering resentment for the West in the current regime in Moscow, and of the political leverage their new found energy wealth (and the associated new dependence of Western Europe on them) has provided them. This episode is too important for Britain to ignore, but, given Moscow's unseemly intransigence, not important enough to fracture the larger relationship.

Russia is a de facto member of the G-8 , mostly as a salve to their sensibilities. Instead of truly joining the international economic community, they have used the growing European dependence on their oil and gas with undisguised greed and nationalisn to reestablish their fondly remembered political leverage and power. This has often been done in defiance of the very principles of free economic development that animate the G-8, with which they have so eagerly associated themselves.

If Europe wants to be an independent and powerful actor on the world stage in the coming generation, it will have to face some of the contradictions implicit in its current unwillingness to live under an American security umbrella. I suspect this will yield some hard choices for the political leadership on issues ranging from military spending to the development of a real, unified European strategic and foreign policy, as well as dealing directly with the various conflicts in the world.

Life in the arena can be more challenging than that in the audience.
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Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 12:01 pm
Its because some EU members, in particular Poland and the Czech Republic want an extention of the American "umbrella" in the form of interceptor missiles and radar systems that's causing the rift with Russia.

The given reason that these systems are to protect (protect who btw, Poland, the EU or US?) against Iranian or Korean missile attack is just an insult to the intelligence. One thing that Putin does not lack is intelligence. Its not difficult to work out why the Russians are annoyed.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 12:14 pm
It is easy to understand that Poland and The Czech Republic might have a different assessment of the potential threat from Russian than do (say) Germany, Britain, and France. We all face the fundamental contradiction of the collective defense doctrine of NATO with the political and strategic aspirations of the EU. Poland and the Czech republic are merely the sensitive barometers for that contradiction. While some may argue that their concerns are excessive, the contradiction is real, and will continue to manifest itself in other ways.

The Russian behavior that motivated your earlier post is not unrelated to the fears that likely animate Polish & Czech concerns. Moreover some of the recent gas pipeline actions of Germany (the Baltic line that bypasses Poland) probably do not inspire Polish confidence. Given the history of the last three centuries (particularly the 1930s) , I believe their fears are entirely reasonable. Eventually the EU will have to face these issues.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 12:49 pm
Steve 41oo wrote:
By insisting on the extradition of Lugovoi, Britain is effectively accusing Moscow of waging nuclear terrorism on British soil.

And with very persuasive reason - and with little surprise. Anyone who's been following Putin critically over the past 8 years should not be in the least surprised that his regime gone totalitarian ups the ante again and again.

Dont forget - like one of the articles above mentioned:

Quote:
Until the point at which the radioactive isotope was detected, it must have appeared to be a poisoner's dream.

It is colourless, odourless and transparent. It can be carried through airports, because it emits alpha energy, and security scanners search for gamma energy. And polonium poisoning is so rare that few hospitals could be expected to test for it.

Considering the ex-KGB president's consistent use of thuggery to eliminate opponents and steer political developments, and his increasing boldness and defiance in doing so, it is no surprise that they thought they could have gotten away with this.

And when it comes to criminal proceedings, of course, they will.

I just hope that even the most naive of pragmatists are now awake to the totalitarian danger that Putin's Russia presents.
0 Replies
 
old europe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 12:52 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
It is easy to understand that Poland and The Czech Republic might have a different assessment of the potential threat from Russian than do (say) Germany, Britain, and France. We all face the fundamental contradiction of the collective defense doctrine of NATO with the political and strategic aspirations of the EU. Poland and the Czech republic are merely the sensitive barometers for that contradiction. While some may argue that their concerns are excessive, the contradiction is real, and will continue to manifest itself in other ways.

The Russian behavior that motivated your earlier post is not unrelated to the fears that likely animate Polish & Czech concerns. Moreover some of the recent gas pipeline actions of Germany (the Baltic line that bypasses Poland) probably do not inspire Polish confidence. Given the history of the last three centuries (particularly the 1930s) , I believe their fears are entirely reasonable. Eventually the EU will have to face these issues.


There are several sensitive issues between the countries of the European Union, especially between some of the new members of the EU and the Western countries. There are some valid reasons for these concerns (you mentioned the Baltic Sea pipeline), but there are also lots of issues which have been played up in order generate support for the respective parties.

However, it's quite obvious that the United States as well as Russia have profited from these differences between European countries. The US have pronounced differing opinions in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, eventually recruiting some countries as members of the "Coalition of the Willing" while ignoring the very valid concerns of some other Western countries in order to minimize opposition to the invasion.

Russia has profited from differences between Germany and Poland, and the realisation of the Baltic Sea pipeline would bring Putin one step further towards establishing Germany as the base for Gazprom's European operations.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 01:07 pm
Steve 41oo wrote:
Its because some EU members, in particular Poland and the Czech Republic want an extention of the American "umbrella" in the form of interceptor missiles and radar systems that's causing the rift with Russia.

Well, who can blame the Poles, Czechs and, surely soon, Balts?

No matter what the nominal use of the missiles is, they sure provide a reassuring extra deterrant versus the big bear to their east, who's crushed them before without thinking twice - sometimes repeatedly. I am sure that protection against Russia - and the resurgent totalitarianism of Putin in particular - played a large role in their eagerness and rush to join the EU and NATO in the first place.

But no, I dont believe for a second that it's simply the interceptor missiles and radars that are to blame for the rift. The rift has come into existence and grown ever wider over the course of the past four years, in the case of the US, and even longer, basically since the start of the Second Chechen War, in the case of the EU.

A whole series of major and minor crisis and issues of contention have added and added pressure to the wedge growing ever bigger. The missiles are just one more step - and it's one of the few strains on the relationship that's been added by the West.
0 Replies
 
Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 01:11 pm
Well I'm glad you dont go along with the pretence that American missiles in Poland are a defence against a sneak N Korean attack.

I think its a provocation on behalf of the US. I really dont see the need for it. Sure I understand why Poland and Czech Rep like to assert their new sovereignty and independence from Russia.

But I think its better to trade with Russia, rather than stick new missile systems in what used to be their back yard - and for no other reason that we can do it.

Its about time the political elites in Britain and the US treated Russia with some respect. If we keep playing games with them we could find ourselves in the cold and dark...literally. You might say but the EU is by far the biggest customer for Russia's oil and gas and they want the profits rolling in. But if they start playing hardball with energy resources, sure it will hurt them and us, but they are used to hardship, we're not.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 01:15 pm
I think it is a rather large stretch to assert that the United States has "profited" from the tensions among the new and old EU nations. The underlying issue here is the ambition among many in Europe to escape the security dependence (and influence) of the United States. That, of course, is their right, but it does involve a bit of something somewhere between ingratitude and forgetfulness. We have attempted to minimize our losses that result from that ambition.

Nothing here entirely out of the ordinary for the behavior of nations. We will surely get over it. However, to blame us for attempting to retain a fraction of the solidarity in an alliance to which we contributed so much for so long is a sentiment unworthy of serious, knowing people.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 01:24 pm
Steve 41oo wrote:


I think its a provocation on behalf of the US. I really dont see the need for it. Sure I understand why Poland and Czech Rep like to assert their new sovereignty and independence from Russia.

But I think its better to trade with Russia, rather than stick new missile systems in what used to be their back yard - and for no other reason that we can do it.
Perhaps it is precisely what is behind your "... used to be their back yard " phrase that so animates the Czechs and the Poles. Both were sold out by Britain and France in the 1930s and heavily punished first by Germany and later by the USSR. Their memory of these events is just that, a memory. It is not a defect of national character.

Steve 41oo wrote:

Its about time the political elites in Britain and the US treated Russia with some respect. If we keep playing games with them we could find ourselves in the cold and dark...literally. You might say but the EU is by far the biggest customer for Russia's oil and gas and they want the profits rolling in. But if they start playing hardball with energy resources, sure it will hurt them and us, but they are used to hardship, we're not.


Well you could start by knocking off the complaints when Putin decides to kill someone in London.

Who, by the way is "playing games" with whom? Do you believe the ABM systems are the only "game" in play?
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old europe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 01:29 pm
But what, exactly, is the purpose of having Missile Defense Shield bases in Poland and the Czech Republic - of all places? Bush's statement that they serve as a protection against the possible threat of Iranian missiles doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me.... Can somebody explain?
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 01:42 pm
old europe wrote:
But what, exactly, is the purpose of having Missile Defense Shield bases in Poland and the Czech Republic - of all places? Bush's statement that they serve as a protection against the possible threat of Iranian missiles doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me.... Can somebody explain?


The purpose of the shield is to intercept ballistic missiles. Poland and the Czech Republic are the only NATO nations currently willing to accept them. I'm quite conficent that we would be willing to install them in Germany, Italy, and Greece as well if the governments were agreeable. The United States' interest is to reduce the potential for nuclear blackmail on itself and its allies by any nation able to do so. The particular reasons that Poland and the Czech republic are willing to host them and Germany and others are not are issues you should address to them, not us.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 02:03 pm
Steve 41oo wrote:
Its about time the political elites in Britain and the US treated Russia with some respect.

Oh God no - not if I interpret "respect" rightly as "give them more of their way". The EU and US have for too many years watched passively and indifferently as Russia slid further and further into renewed totalitarianism, and perceived and treated the independent states in what it calls its "near abroad" as little more than vassal countries.

The Russian state has again and again, through legal and illegal means, destabilised nearby countries whenever they got too "uppity".

It was actively involved in how an ethnic minority representing 17% of the population took over the Georgian autonomous province of Abkhazia with overwhelming (Russian) firepower, drove out the Georgians who had represented an at least twice as large a share of population, and devolved itself into a Russian colony.

Likewise, it was actively involved in the armed insurrection in Transnistria, where ethnic Russians and Ukrainians established their own neo-Stalinist mini state on Moldovan territory.

When one such country got too uppity, like Georgia did, Russia reacted with a sudden, massive expulsion of Georgians, and clampdown on Georgian businesses, in Moscow.

Yeltsin started these practices - Putin escalates them. And both times, we, the West, looked away for too long.

During the clashes in Estonia over the removal of a WW2 monument celebrating the Soviet Army (the de facto former occupiers of the country), a head of a Russian parliamentary delegation visiting Tallinn openly appealed to the government to resign. (Imagine the head of an official US Congress delegation visiting Berlin in '03 and calling for the resignation of Schroeder - even Bush didnt go that far). Simultaneously, a massive, unprecedented cyberattack ran ramshod through the famous Estonian "e-society" - with at least one Russian state institution involved in the attack.

When Ukraine became too independent-minded, Russia tried to blackmail it through its gas deliveries. A Russian hand in the events that involved the poisoning of Yushchenko is still not excluded, though it will likely never be proven.

In Armenia and Azerbajjan, the Russian state, all the way back from Yeltsin's early days, has consistently played divide and rule, throwing its financial and even military weight behind whichever of the two countries gave in most to its demands for power over their affairs (in effect keeping them both on a short leash).

In short, Russia has been treating a wide swath of countries around its territory the way the US used to treat Latin America as its backyard in the shady days of the seventies and eighties.

When foreign countries act according to Russia's sensitivities, it makes sure their diplomats feel it - in unconventional ways. British diplomats criticize human rights and meet with dissidents? Putin's personal youth movement, "The Ours", rallies in front of the embassy to intimidate personnel - and one diplomat is coincidentally beaten up on a visit to Siberia. Is Russia unhappy with how Poland follows up on a petty crime against a Russian diplomat in Warsaw? A series of Poles suddenly is attacked by thugs in Moscow - until Poland officially protests, and suddenly these 'random street crimes' stop again. Estonia removes its Soviet memorial? Youths from "The Ours" show up at the Estonian embassy in Moscow to disrupt a press conference and later attack a car they thought the ambassador was in.

Domestically, Putin has systematically clamped down on the institutions of democracy. Governors? Appointed by Moscow nowadays, forget about elections. Media? All on the leash of the Kremlin. One after the other remaining popular independent TV stations and newspapers was squeezed closed, bought up by Kremlin-friendly businesses with "offers you cant refuse" followed up by mass firings of critical journalists - printers who suddenly refuse to print the paper, broadcast channels suddenly reassigned.

Dissident intellectuals? A series of suspect attacks and even deaths has followed - not a single one ever leading to any succesul investigation (read that New Yorker article). The economy? After the oligarchs plundered the country under Yeltsin, they could easily be brought into the fold - support Putin, and you'll get a share in great new privatisation deals; criticize him, and we'll suddenly remember the mass corruption you were involved in in the 90s, and you will end up in jail (Khodorkovsky).

Russia has turned into a bona fide old-style Latin American thug autocracy. Investigations show that old KGB cadres have all but overtaken all powerful state institutions. Dont be mistaken - Putin is still popular. He brought toughness and order and a return of national pride, after all. Russia counts again! Yes, thank the KGB for that.

Too long, for too long has the EU stayed on the sidelines. To its credit, the Council of Europe was critical about slipping and sliding human rights and democracy standards from the start. The European Parliament has also done a good job at least doing its best to try to keep these developments in the news. The EP has done important work highlighting the literal mass rape, torture, murder and pillage campaign that Russia embarked on in Chechnya, not just against dwindling numbers of guerrillas and terrorists, but collectively against the civilians of the country, men, women and children alike.

But the European Commission, lacking a foreign policy institution with teeth, and the heads of state of the EU have systematically backpedalled. Germany, France, the UK too. The US, in its turn, especially in Bush's early days, was overly soft, as Putin swiftly shoved the long-ongoing war in Chechnya under the rhetorical umbrella of the new "war on Islamic terror". We have looked the other way when the Russian military used a torch earth strategy there. Notable but toothless dissent from the Council of Europe and European Parliament aside, we have looked the other way when dissidents were marginalised, media were suppressed, the economy was reorganised on the basis of political loyalty.

It took many years before we started counteracting the dubious Russian attempts to pressure and coopt its near abroad. Western support was crucial for the revolutions that re-democratised Georgia, and that threw the mafioso president of Ukraine out. But Russia is nearby, rich, and powerful.

Western Europe needs to finally wake up properly to what the people here in Central Europe long know. This Russia - Putin's Russia - can not be trusted. There's no Yeltsinesque buddy-buddy diplomacy here. For every inch you give Putin, he'll take two. He hasnt got a democratic bone in his body. Russia needs to be held to account, and the new EU and NATO Member States need to be defended against any attempted encroachment by the resurgent totalitarian neighbour.

This is no joke. You wont believe me now, Steve, but mark my words. If Putin and his former-KGB clan manage to keep on steering Russia the way they have, this country will pose a greater danger to the West than Islamist terrorism in ten years time.

I know that for a Brit, all this is still far from one's bedside. The Islamist danger seems so much closer and more acute. What was it that Chamberlain said about Czechoslovakia? Quarrels "in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing."

But dont even think about chummying up to a rather ruthless authoritarian rulling a vast Eastern state, over the heads of the small countries in its shadow. The EU and the US must take a vigilant and strict position vis-a-vis the new Russian security service state.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 02:09 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
Steve 41oo wrote:
But I think its better to trade with Russia, rather than stick new missile systems in what used to be their back yard - and for no other reason that we can do it.

Perhaps it is precisely what is behind your "... used to be their back yard " phrase that so animates the Czechs and the Poles. Both were sold out by Britain and France in the 1930s and heavily punished first by Germany and later by the USSR. Their memory of these events is just that, a memory. It is not a defect of national character.

Hear hear.

georgeob1 wrote:
Steve 41oo wrote:
Its about time the political elites in Britain and the US treated Russia with some respect. If we keep playing games with them we could find ourselves in the cold and dark...literally.

Well you could start by knocking off the complaints when Putin decides to kill someone in London.

Spot-on. That's the context of this thread after all. If the Brits wouldnt even take an assertive stand over a political assisination with radiationary means [well, you know what I mean, sorry, my English gives out] on its own soil, they might as well write Putin a personal letter saying, "please, go ahead, do whatever you want". Kill your dissidents on our soil, as long as you leave British targets alone, we wont sqeak.. it would be outright appeasement, and Putin, a man of force, would merely see it as a weakness that invites further encroachment.

Who, by the way is "playing games" with whom? Do you believe the ABM systems are the only "game" in play?[/quote]
0 Replies
 
old europe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 02:11 pm
Sure, but the planned systems are not to be installed as part of NATO, but based on bilateral agreement. Kaczynski has referred to the MDS as "a protection of Poland." However, it doesn't really seem to make much sense. Russia has recently tested a new missile that could reportedly overcome the missile defense shield, Iran is years, if not decades, away from having missiles that could possibly reach and threaten Poland, and the majority of NATO as well as EU countries is opposed. And the same goes for the majority of the Poles and the Czechs, with about 60 percent in the Czech Republic and about two thirds of the population in Poland in opposition.

The Polish and Czech governments seem to be on a course to isolate themselves from all of their neighbours, alienate Russia and annoy their voters. All that for the rather dubious benefit of having a system stationed that has not even been proven to work reliably.

Edit: this in response to George's post....
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 02:21 pm
Nimh - we agree completely ! What is happening?

Are you becoming a Republican or am I becoming a left-wing European Social Democrat?

Actually, I believe we are both reacting to the chronic complaints of complacent Western European nations that (like all of us) tend to blame others for the complications arising from their own behavior.

The NATO Alliance either means something or it does not. (Personally I am in favor of dismantling it). An EU that is able to act independently of (and sometimes in opposition to) the United States will have to pay the price for its independence (that means more defense spending and more serious engagement of the emerging threats to the West.) The new EU must now face both of these issues in the context of an emergingly resentful and authoritarian Russia that is clearly animated by the, perhaps understandable, desire to reclaim much of its former empire - or at least the power and influence it once had by virtue of its military, if not moral, power.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 02:31 pm
old europe wrote:
Sure, but the planned systems are not to be installed as part of NATO, but based on bilateral agreement. Kaczynski has referred to the MDS as "a protection of Poland." However, it doesn't really seem to make much sense. Russia has recently tested a new missile that could reportedly overcome the missile defense shield, Iran is years, if not decades, away from having missiles that could possibly reach and threaten Poland, and the majority of NATO as well as EU countries is opposed. And the same goes for the majority of the Poles and the Czechs, with about 60 percent in the Czech Republic and about two thirds of the population in Poland in opposition.

The Polish and Czech governments seem to be on a course to isolate themselves from all of their neighbours, alienate Russia and annoy their voters. All that for the rather dubious benefit of having a system stationed that has not even been proven to work reliably.

Edit: this in response to George's post....


Interesting. The missile defense system can easily be saturated with multiple vehicles and warheads. However, it thereby profoundly alters the calculus of a would be attacker. A single missile attack has a large probability of failing, leaving him with the options of either doing nothing (=deterrence) or a massive attack which will surely elicit a devastating response (=deterrence).

Even apart from the bilateral character of the specific arrangement with Poland and the Czech Republics, my point about NATO and the availability of the ABM system to Germany, Italy, Greece and others remains valid. The NATO alliance (which I believe is a burden to us, uncompensated by any real benefit) will not entertain such a system, but the major EU powers fault their central European members who, owing to their different historical perspectives, want it.

The internal contradictions here are all on the European side of the Atlantic.
0 Replies
 
old europe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 03:02 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
Even apart from the bilateral character of the specific arrangement with Poland and the Czech Republics, my point about NATO and the availability of the ABM system to Germany, Italy, Greece and others remains valid. The NATO alliance (which I believe is a burden to us, uncompensated by any real benefit) will not entertain such a system, but the major EU powers fault their central European members who, owing to their different historical perspectives, want it.

The internal contradictions here are all on the European side of the Atlantic.


No, I disagree. Washington has repeatedly been taking advantage of the rift between European countries as long as that benefited US foreign policy. With all the focus on the Iraq war, that may have been desirable at the time. There is little doubt that Washington was playing its cards by pitting European countries against each other, while at the same time steering an overly soft course vis-a-vis Moscow. As long as Putin justified each and every massive military action as a Russian measure in the global "War on Terror", Washington remained suspiciously mute.

Even when Putin, in his state of the nation speech two years ago, announced the development of a new missile type that could overcome every available missile defence shield, that would travel 6,500 kilometres and that could be armed with nuclear warheads, the US were to preoccupied with Iraq and Bush was to busy lauding Putin as a democrat to even take note.

On the other hand, Putin has been using anti-American resentments within the European Union as well - blaming the current US administration for torture, rogue capitalism, Guantanamo, etc. etc.
And now the pretext for stationing the new high-tech missiles has changed to the Missile Defense systems to be erected in Poland and the Czech Republic. And Russia can count on its arms deals partners Syria and Iran to fiercely oppose the new system in those two neighbouring countries.

In that regard, Putin has been blinding the EU countries as well as the United States. Over time, it may turn out that the whole, idiotic "War on Terror" was rather insignificant and not even worth fighting when compared to the massive programme that currently going on in Russia, unnoticed in most Western countries.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 03:21 pm
While I somewhat agree with your characterization of the so-called War on Terror, I also note that there is indeed a fairly well organized effort going on in the world to combat Islamist and other terrorists, and that it has in many cases been remarkably effective. I believe the rhetoric was greatly over-inflated, but the effort is sound. That some, like Russia, used the concern and the rhetoric as a cover for their own gangster imperialism is a problem they - not we - created.

For the rest, I just don't follow your logic with respect to the ABM systems. Poland and the Czech Republic want them - as is their right. Germany evidently doesn't - as is its right. The United States sees it as in its interest to install the system and accomodate the Poles and the Czechs - as is our right. The EU has announced its intention of moving beyond (and outside of) NATO - as is its right. In response the United States is looking more toward new bilateral relationships - as is our right.

The tensions between the historical and contemporary perspectives of Poland the Czech Republic and the Baltic States and those of the older Western European states are an objective fact. They exist quite apart from the ABM matter, though it illustrates them well. All of these factors color our individual interpretations of the recent posturing of Russia. Differences with respect to it already exist between the states of Eastern and Western Europe - including Poland and Germany in particular.

It seems to me you are faulting others for the consequences of contradictions that lie exclusively within Europe.
0 Replies
 
 

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