Perhaps Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine still feels like foreign news. Our domestic news is drowned by all the electioneering, though the outcome of our own domestic campaign is far more certain than what is yet to happen on the continent we call our own.

I am not competent to provide an analysis of the geopolitics of the world. I have studied the subject in school in Malta and the UK but that was 25 years ago and, like anyone who has read history must be feeling now, I envy those whose mind is not filled with the dark possible futures that our past predicts for us.

My vision is no less myopic, isolated, peripheral and parochial than the people around me. This commentary will not propose alternative ways of handling Vladimir Putin, whether to urge him to sign papers declaring peace in our time or to try to bully the bully back into his cave. Appeasement or confrontation, both seem mortally undesirable to me.

The peripheral view I take is on how intuitively I feel we should be behaving.

I never understood the government’s enthusiasm for the passport-selling scheme, beyond the fact that it made money. I could never support the idea that our sovereignty as a nation could be apportioned and retailed on the world market to be sold like an accessory to private jets and super yachts.

When I started working in journalism after Daphne was killed, I was exposed to the strong reservations of journalists, politicians and activists who were concerned about the infiltration of Putin’s oligarchs in the West, particularly through London.

I’m even more perplexed now at the government’s stubbornness to stand alone in Europe still selling passports to Putin’s buddies, still giving them a key to the backdoors of the homes of our friends in the world, still betraying our partners, their safety and their security. And, still, the only motivation I can see for doing this is money.

If perhaps the idea that Maltese passports should not be sold to Putin’s associates may have been controversial up to now, how can the government not now consider a freeze on the trade, given that, with his tanks and his ballistic missiles and his armoured helicopters, Putin has declared war on the values we proclaim to hold dear as EU members? How is it so hard to acknowledge that circumstances have changed so dramatically?

I never understood why, of all possible sources, the government was so keen to create a dependency for our energy needs by hooking on to Azerbaijan’s state-owned supplier. The only explanation I could think of was money, paid into the pockets of the ministers who made that decision.

Azerbaijan is a close ally of Russia. Ilham Aliyev is one of Putin’s oligarchs with the added trappings of running a vassal state of the undeclared Russian empire. We should have never tied our future to his whims and now here we are. Circumstances too have changed. Azerbaijan has now formally declared itself a military ally of Russia.

I cannot now understand why the government is so determined to bind us further to the strategic dependence on gas. Why won’t they say that we are in time to consider other options as Germany has just done by cancelling Nord Stream 2? Why won’t they say that we will use our relative advantages of size and openness to secure other energy sources that won’t have us beg the people who are firing on democracies to extend their tyrannical domination?

Robert Abela has rubbished UK press reports that Russia is looking at using Malta as a strategic foothold in the Mediterranean. Perhaps Abela is blessed for not having read quite as much history as could make his view of the world unhealthily cynical. It is endearing to see so much optimism in the way he speaks.

The unprovoked invasion of a smaller neighbour to the east of Russia is a standard Tsarist policy from the 17th and 19th centuries. The occupation of the Crimea to secure warm water harbours is also Tsarist. For being Tsarist, Russia’s lust for maritime control of the central Mediterranean is no less unlikely to happen now.

I’m even more perplexed at the government’s stubbornness to stand alone in Europe still selling passports to Vladimir Putin’s buddies- Manuel Delia

There are a few undisputed facts that Abela should consider. The monitoring of our search and rescue area has been weakened as we work hard to miss migrants in our waters in case we must go through the bother of saving them from drowning. Our blindness may yet prove far pricier than the money we saved feeding the starving.

In this wild west environment, our waters (and our harbours) became industrial scale operational centres for trafficking (of contraband, fuel, drugs and people), partly aided by the overt complicity of our own officials. Over recent weeks, monitors have noted extraordinary naval activities by the Russian fleet right in our neighbourhood.

There’s not much we can do if we need to complain about the Russian navy buzzing around our waters. We should know, given by what is happening in the Ukraine, that Russia has a very confused and confusing appreciation of the sovereignty or the neutrality of countries in the way of the objectives of its tsar.

Belgium and the Netherlands learned the hard way that neutrality does not always protect you from tyrants with a selective appreciation of the value of international law.

And are we truly neutral in this new world that Dom Mintoff, the architect of our constitutional neutrality clauses, could never foresee? Are we seriously ambivalent in the current scenario?

Perhaps in our Lilliputian election campaign, there’s one more question we should be asking. Given how the world is changing, are we really choosing the adults in the room to navigate the rough seas ahead?

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