Putin and Medvedev. Having a great time…

You have to hand it to the Russians, but they have just pulled the most stunning and clever coup in foreign politics since Marget Thatcher banged her handbag on the table in Maastricht and demanded her money back.

Just six months ago a small unimportant backwater of Eastern Europe declared itself independent to free themselves from a perceived aggressor (Serbia) and celebrate their ethnic uniqueness and all the Russians did was grumble a bit. That of course was Kosovo, and the western world was supposed to be on the side of the good guys, so we continued our military presence with peacekeepers to protect the needy little Kosovar nation and recognised their nationhood diplomatically.

Fast forward 6 months, and now Russia has recognised two tiny nations in a small, unimportant backwater of Eastern Europe to help them free themselves from the perceived aggressor (Georgia) and celebrate their ethnic uniqueness. Just like Nato, it sent peacekeepers, bombed the aggressor, told the daft president of Georgia off for forcing its hand and is now sitting pretty in tactically beneficial spots in the countryside.

Funny how the President of Georgia, the irrepressible Mr Saakashvili was a ‘friend’ of the U.S. and how Milosevic was a friend of Russia. How things repeat themselves.

Putin and Medvedev must be laughing themselves silly. When the EU and Nato sounded all honest and concerned about Kosovo they probably just sat back, grinning and thought how they could do a Kosovo with some of their statelets across the border. And who can blame them?

Now of course we are having the undignified spectacle of the British foreign minister David Miliband (who?) ‘rallying’ the other nations within the ex Soviet sphere of influence to form a coalition against Russian aggression. I have no idea what this is supposed to achieve. The Russians control Europe’s access to their large fossile energy reserves and I am pretty sure that Europe’s consumer would prefer not to freeze this winter.

Maybe instead of jumping around Eastern Europe and antagonise Russia more, he should invest his energy into getting his and the other European countries ready for the day the Russians turn off the gas (or fossile fuels run out). Germany has shown that it is possible to increase the share of renewable energy available to 14 percent within a decade, so maybe instead of prancing around the Ukraine he could have a think about the energy needs of his own country.

The Tunguska Event, 100 years on.

This week’s New Scientist has a superb feature on the current state of research on the Tunguska event. Just to refresh your memory, on 30 June 2008 an explosion 1000 times more powerful than the nuclear detonation over Hiroshima incinerated the sky over the northern half of our planet. Originating somewhere above the Tunguska river in Siberia, it knocked down trees over an area of 2000 square kilometers.

image courtesy of wikimedia

This week, a bunch of scientists will be meeting in Moscow to discuss the current state of knowledge about this immense event. The theories are mindboggling. There’s the usual UFO theories, the more plausible explosion of an asteroid, and the intriguing idea of the ‘Verneshot‘: with other words an ‘Earth Burb’, in which  a large bubble of C02, accumlated via vulcanic activity, suddenly gets released, spewing toxic gases and large chunks of matter into the atmosphere.

And why am I interested in all this?

Ghostbusters, of course.