The West’s list of grievances against Russia is long…
But one can hear no peep of opposition today from any western country following Moscow’s offer to lend 4 billion euros to Iceland. Full Comment reported on that tiny nation’s current financial difficulties yesterday. Of all the countries affected by the crisis, Iceland may be hurting the worst.
Western elected officials, academics, professional diplomats and military high commands have spend the years since the USSR’s breakup laughing at the very idea that Russia might ever again be a great power. They might have to start stifling that laughter. In Iceland, at least a few people are openly wondering why it is that their old foe of the Warsaw Pact era (Iceland is a NATO member) is solvent enough to afford to advance them a loan in their hour of need — while no other western democracy was willing or able to do so. One Icelandic newspaper editor is even referring to Russia’s loan as a major “PR coup” for the Kremlin.
If the Russian government wants to drop some assistance on the Icelanders that’s fine with me, but I’d advise them that such gifts rarely arrive string-free. If Putin and his Kremlin lieutenants are confident enough to play hardball with nearby major powers, I doubt they’ll be subtle about dropping the other shoe on their newest NATO friends.