Merkel Channels Ricky Ricardo. Somehow Putin Doesn’t Strike Me as the Lucy Type

This would be hilarious, if it weren’t so sick.

Today there were numerous detailed reports of Russian troops invading southeastern Ukraine, with the attacks focusing on the town of Novoazovsk, on the road to Mariupul. This strikes Ukraine to the rear of its main effort to the north in Donetsk, and threatens to uncover Crimea, providing Russian troops with another axis of advance into Ukraine.

Note that this has occurred after Merkel pressured Poroshenko to give Putin a face-saving out, and the very day after Putin and Poroshenko met. A meeting during which Putin said that the conflict was purely an internal Ukrainian matter to be worked out between the Kiev government and the rebels.

So what did Merkel do in response to this very serious escalation? She channeled Ricky Ricardo, and called Putin to tell him he had some ‘splainin’ to do:

Angela Merkel told President Vladimir Putin by phone on Wednesday that reports of a new Russian military incursion into Ukrainian territory had to be cleared up, a spokesman for the chancellor said in a statement.

“The latest reports of the presence of Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory must be explained,” said Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert. “She emphasised Russia’s major responsibility for de-escalation and watching over its own frontiers.”

Yeah. Tell Putin to de-escalate right after he’s escalated. That’s telling him.

Explain the reports? Clear things up? The level of unseriousness here is off the charts.

So what is this, the 35th Merkel to Putin call? These calls have accomplished what, exactly?

The most plausible hypothesis is that what they’ve accomplished is to convince Putin that he can do as he wills, without fearing any German response worth mentioning. (As for Obama, start printing the milk cartons with his picture. He’s been missing on this for weeks. The US response has been limited to unleashing the #hashtagteam of Psaki and Harf. Gawd. Speaking of the fearsome hashtags, has Nigeria gotten its girls back yet? No? So how come nobody’s hash tagging it any more?)

But this call to “explain” is a new low. Is Merkel a slow learner? Has she considered the possibility that the explanation for “reports” of Russian tanks in Novoazovsk is that there are Russian tanks in Novoazovsk?  Does she expect Putin will all of a sudden cop to this after denying Russian involvement for  six months (going back to Crimea)?

I see that the Germans do not say what Putin’s explanation was. Presumably because it was impossible to hear through the guffaws.

About Craig Pirrong 228 Articles

Affiliation: University of Houston

Dr Pirrong is Professor of Finance, and Energy Markets Director for the Global Energy Management Institute at the Bauer College of Business of the University of Houston. He was previously Watson Family Professor of Commodity and Financial Risk Management at Oklahoma State University, and a faculty member at the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, and Washington University.

Professor Pirrong's research focuses on the organization of financial exchanges, derivatives clearing, competition between exchanges, commodity markets, derivatives market manipulation, the relation between market fundamentals and commodity price dynamics, and the implications of this relation for the pricing of commodity derivatives. He has published 30 articles in professional publications, is the author of three books, and has consulted widely, primarily on commodity and market manipulation-related issues.

He holds a Ph.D. in business economics from the University of Chicago.

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