Patrick Armstrong spent 30 years as an analyst for the Canadian government, specializing in first the USSR and then Russia. He was a Political Counselor in the Canadian Embassy in Moscow from 1993 to 1996.
Given the torrent of anti-Russian sentiment in the West, it’s unlikely Moscow would get a fair hearing in legal proceedings overseen by Western courts. And recent hints suggest three decades of engagement may be coming to an end.
A Dutch court has just reversed another earlier Dutch court ruling that reversed an even earlier Dutch court ruling. Russia had been sued by a company representing the shareholders of erstwhile oil giant Yukos. The latest iteration, reversing the reversal and taking us back to the original judgment, demands that Russia pay $50 billion to its shareholders. Yukos was nationalized in the early 2000s, on the grounds of failure to pay tax arrears after the arrest of its CEO for tax evasion.
So, what should Moscow do? It has appealed, but perhaps it should think about whether it still wants to play the game.
Let’s look at the behavior of other Dutch courts. In 2001, Slobodan Milošević appeared at the Hague charged with crimes against humanity, genocide – the full package. And, quite rightly, said most Westerners, because had not their media already named him the “butcher of the Balkans”?
Also on rt.com
Yukos case: Netherlands prepares for hearing in $50 billion plus legal battle over disgraced ex-oligarch’s former oil empire
In 2016, the International Court of Justice ruled that maybe he hadn’t been as guilty as first assumed. But it was too late: Milošević had died in his prison cell 10 years before, with the trial still rolling on.
The Netherlands is also in charge of the investigation into the destruction of the MH-17 flight over Ukraine in 2014. Again, we had immediate Western news assertions that Putin and Russia were responsible, and the personal assurance of former Secretary of State John Kerry that US intelligence resources had watched the whole thing unfold. And it’s been a fact-free Gish gallop ever since.
After several investigations, suspiciously dependent on Ukrainian intelligence sources, social media, and the US-government funded agency Bellingcat, with no one asking where the “we saw it” was,