So as we have all probably read in the news, France has sent some MP’s to Crimea.
Why is this significant? This is the first step to the EU recognising Crimea is Russia – that’s why.
The sub text is France is really hurting with the sanctions lark and want to rebuild relations with Russia. Not only the 5 million Euros a month upkeep for the ships Russia has now cancelled, but the agricultural, cheese and wine industries are hurting too.
Really, the EU is hurting not doing so much trade with Russia (and Uncle Sam ain’t buying the produce). Now voters are asking why businesses are collapsing because of Uncle Sam’s whims. People are starting to see that the EU people and businesses have no dog in the Ukraine fight, but they are paying for it.
I expect (and this is only my theory) France asked how they might rebuild relations, and were told to go to Crimea and make some positive noise. First step on the road to the international community accepting the reunification. First step to get French cheese back into Russia too…..
Observe the language used. Now the French are referring to the coup in Kiev. Previously verboten usage in the EU political sphere. France has gone out on a limb here.
My prediction is Italy or Greece will be next.
If you look at the economy of France, it isn’t good. Hollande isn’t any great leader, why Le Pen is gaining so much ground.
They have cheese, wine and agriculture (and french veggies are nice – we drive there to buy them). Apparently they also build ships. Nobody really noticed this till the Mistral crisis. But that is big business.
Russia likes French cheese. Russia likes French wine. Russia imports fruit and vegetables. Russia also ordered two huge warships from France that will not now be delivered as after lots of faffing, Russia has cancelled and wants their money back (ouch!).
France is also hurting this year as this is shopping season for the Brits. At this time of year – the school holidays – we invade Calais and spend millions. But the French have done what they do best: industrial action in the ports, farmers striking and protesting, and on top of that are 5000 would-be UK immigrants sitting in Calais trying to break into trucks and setting fires on the Eurotunnel approach roads.
On our side we have what is called “operation stack”, which is the M20 full of queuing trucks trying to get to France. There was even talk of sending the UK army into France to quell the illegals. But France has no plan. Travel between the UK and France is plagued with delays so people are not going. This means the big supermarket chains like Auchan and Carrefour are losing lots of money. This means haulage firms like Norbert Dentressangle are paying drivers to sit in queues for three days. Haulage has tight margins (I know this from experience) so these companies are losing money. These and others are companies big enough to be able to lean on the French government.
The French government is in a pickle. Greatly reduced UK traffic (at a time the Euro is great value to the pound and in high travel season), but crossing the channel is problematic (Belgium and Holland will thank them for the displaced travellers). Much lost grocery/cheese/wine trade to Russia has gone. And now two warships have been cancelled. Collectively, this is billions of Euros. This is lost jobs, collapsing businesses, businesses hurting, tourism down. And for what?
So the French had to do something. Hollande hasn’t got the balls Sarkozy had; Sarkozy had the gonads to round up the illegals and lesser EU migrants at Calais and herd them onto buses and export themwhile putting a middle finger up to Brussels. He had a lid on the migrant issue at Calais. Hollande isn’t that guy. Now 5000 of them are at Calais. The local cops do nothing.
So how do the French do PR in this circumstance? They need to fix relations with Russia – a 143 million people market – pretty quick. Save the big wine and cheese boys by restoring their trade with Russia. How to do that? Start with some PR in the region that caused the sanctions: Crimea.
Of course, mainstream politicians in France need plausible deniability, so they send lesser ones. Ones main MP’s can say were “rogue” and “acted on their own” if a wheel comes off. But we can see what is behind this. France wants a fast fix with Russia to stem the blood flow of its ailing economy. No Brits and no Russians make for a bankrupt French industry. Gotta bring at least one back fast. Immigrants are hard to solve, French farmers and unions even harder, sending a delegation to Crimea is the easiest option. If the French can restore trade to Russia, they will stave off crisis.
The French have historically been close to Russia. They never really supported sanctions with any enthusiasm. They went along with it as a member of the EU. But nobody bought up the shortfall. Uncle Sam, who drove the sanctions, didn’t start to buy more wine and cheese from France. But Russian shelves are full of wine from South Africa and local cheese now. Now Russia are building all new Mistrals themselves, local cheese producers are stepping up, South Africa, Argentina and others are filling the wine gap, by the time sanctions end, Russia may not have substituted the French produce, but happily replaced it. The same goes for Italian ham, Dutch cheese and Spanish whatever.
French MP’s visiting Crimea are a well arranged PR stunt. France needs to get back into Russia’s good books. As do Poland and Finland and other countries whose economy relied on supplying Russia. They – under the EU umbrella – accepted sanctions against Russia from America, but America has minimal trade with Russia. America didn’t have to pay the price. Mainland Europe paid the price. The faster they realise it and reverse the sanctions, the better.
The French MP’s in Crimea is an important first step. This is France saying “We accept Crimea is Russia”.