Anyone with any knowledge of Russia could have told the Prime Minister that
his gratuitous public and personal attacks on Mr Putin and on Russia in
general would lead to retaliation. Russia was left with no other option
except humiliation and Russians are too proud and too sensitive to accept
that. So the Australian Government must have known that banning of our
exports was the most probable Russian response and therefore prepared
contingency plans to deal with this event. So why all the panic now? Why has
the National Party not protected the interests of its constituents simply so
Mr Abbott can engage in a contest with Mr Putin to show who has the hairiest
This is not about MH17 although our attacks on Russia after that can only
have made things worse. The sanctions and insults to which Russia is
responding took place before the plane was shot down. While we do not know
for sure who did it, the most likely explanation is that some incompetent
separatist thought he was shooting down a plane out of Kiev. Whether Russia
was directly or indirectly involved is not clear. What would Russia have to
gain by deliberately shooting down a Malaysian airliner? If stupidity will
explain something, we shouldn’t look for devious plots.
The Australian Government claims to have an Asian oriented policy so why are
we getting involved in a European problem in which we have no direct
interest? How will publicly insulting Russia promote our interests? And when
will the Government explain what Australian interests have been served that
outweigh the damage done to innocent Australian farmers?
Cavan Hogue is a former Australian Ambassador to USSR and Russia.