“It is worth asking the question: Who would be happy if we left? Putin might be happy, I suspect al-Baghdadi might be happy.”
The Russian embassy in London has already protested about the British government’s persistent habit of dragging Putin’s name into the referendum campaign. As the embassy has pointed out, President Putin has never expressed any views on the issue, which the Russians consider a strictly British affair.
This reticence of Putin’s stands in sharp contrast to the active campaigning of Western leaders – US President Obama first and foremost – who have not hesitated to call openly on Britons to vote to stay in the EU.
The Russian embassy’s protest has gone completely unreported in Britain. British politicians and the British media continue to claim Putin wants Britain to leave the EU as if the embassy’s protests had never been made. Those politicians who campaign for Britain to leave the EU now regularly get called “Putin apologists”.
What is particularly outrageous about Cameron’s latest comments is however the way he links President Putin’s name with that of the Daesh leader Ibrahim Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
The leader of Russia – the country doing the most to fight Daesh, which made the key contribution to the recent liberation of Palmyra – is lumped together with the leader of Daesh, the world most dangerous terrorist organisation.
This practice of lumping Daesh and Russia together as if the two were somehow comparable threats to Britain has now become standard practice for certain politicians and journalists in Britain. This despite the fact that though there have been numerous instances of jihadist terrorism in the various member states of the EU – including in Britain – there has never been any act of comparable terrorism committed by anyone connected to Russia.
The linking of Putin’s name with Al-Baghdadi’s however crosses a new line. The British Prime Minister – without criticism from the British media or the British establishment – has just equated the leader of Europe’s most powerful country, which is also a permanent member of the UN’s Security Council – with the head of a criminal terrorist organisation, in a way which signals that both are now Britain’s enemies.
President Putin for his part has never spoken of any Western leader in this way. There would be outrage in the West if he did. However as against the Russian state and its leadership it seems that in the West anything is permitted.