MH17. Before you agree that Russia's veto of the UN tribunal idea is evidence that Putindunnit, you should know two things. First, there already is a UNSC resolution calling for "full, thorough and independent international investigation" and "those responsible for this incident be held to account". It is UNSC Resolution 2166 and dates from a year ago. Who needs another? Second, that one of those calling for the new resolution – Australia's Julie Bishop – condemned Russia a year ago for refusing to accept responsibility for the shootdown. Clearly a kangaroo court (as it were) was intended. As we have seen before with Milosevic and Qaddafi. Rather than stunts, Washington should first show us its "mountain of evidence" as a group of retired US intelligence professionals demand.
SANCTIONS. The Russian counter sanctions on food are having a beneficial effect on local producers as this Austrian TV report shows. Here's a visitor's report of what he found in St Petersburg and environs. Here's what Americans are told: "Je suis Charlie et je suis fromage". Costs to the EU are still being estimated: Belgium US$500 million; Germany €600-800 million; overall maybe €5 billion. Or even €100 billion when everything is calculated. In light of Stratfor's observation that Washington is determined to keep Germany and Russia apart, one wonders which Washington wants to hurt. For the effect on Russia, Reuters reports the IMF's take: "The fund estimated the immediate effect... had been to wipe between 1pc and 1.5pc off GDP, rising to 9pc over the next few years... also forecast "weak" economic growth of around 1.5pc annually in the medium term." Does that make sense to you? Or is it an estimate of what might have been?At any rate, however you spin or measure it, this is not "tatters".