Why We Shouldn't Ignore Russia's Criticism Of Malta
The Russian rebuke may very well be an early test for Donald Trump
“Let it speak for itself,” I thought, as I read the news reports that the Russian Government was slamming the Maltese government over its refusal two weeks ago to let Russian warships refuel in Malta. But I seriously doubt that many people saw the threat for what it was, and more importantly for the danger it can pose to our society.
Russia said Malta fell victim to the West's information war even though the island claimed it acted independently without external pressure. "The Maltese Foreign Ministry believes that the Russian military machine is committing atrocities in Syria, especially against women and children. These are the total victims of Western propaganda," said Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
Russia could have made this criticism last week, but chose not to. What they did, in fact, was wait for the result of the U.S. Presidential election before adjusting their foreign policy to suit the new state of affairs. Remember, Russia stands to gain in an environment where President-elect Donald Trump has called NATO obsolete.
"Russia could have made this criticism last week, but chose not to. What they did, in fact, was wait for the result of the U.S. Presidential election."
When ordinary people see Russia being friendly with Trump, we automatically think it's a good thing. One less trigger of World War Three to worry about. Unfortunately power politics is a bigger game than that, and the Russians know this more than anyone.
Both Putin and Trump are big characters. And neither care much for what actually happens to Malta in the long run. But Putin knows that normally, when Malta is pushed, the American government is there to silently back us up, with their fleet of warships headquartered nearby in Naples.
So the Russian rebuke may very well be an early test for Donald Trump aimed at becoming aware of his willingness to honour American foreign policy commitments in the tradition of his predecessors.
"By granting and then taking back fuelling permission to Russia, the Maltese government may have further exposed an already open secret: that we are willing to accommodate Western military thinking in spite of our neutrality."
People should question this. By granting and then revoking fuelling permission to Russia, the Maltese government may have further exposed an already open secret: that we are willing to accommodate Western military thinking in spite of our neutrality.
The Russian government knows that the neutrality issue is a hotbed of antagonistic bickering between people on both sides of Maltese party lines. The consequences of a successful attempt at divisiveness range from ever more partisan politics, of which Malta has undoubtedly now had enough, to allowing for a surge in Trump-like demagoguery.
The consequences of America withdrawing its support of Malta are far worse. At times like these we must ask ourselves, who really guarantees our safety but the U.S. Sixth Fleet? And what happens if Trump decides to turn his back on us?