Monday, June 27

Four months later. It is still wrong.

It's been four months and three days since Russia began the destruction of Ukraine. As several military experts predicted, Russia has managed to take effective control of a band of Ukraine stretching down the eastern side and across the south. Their progress has been very slow and painful for both their own troops and, of course, the people living in those sectors. Occasionally they have been repulsed. Efforts to attack Kyiv came to nothing and Kharkiv, whilst still vulnerable, seems to have never surrendered and at the time of writing remains very much under Ukraine control and not Russian.

Missiles today flew across Zhytomyr, a town which has escaped the worst of the fighting and damage to date. They may have been intended for military training targets or transport facilities but also damaged buildings and people. There had been some definite relaxation in places at some distance from the occupied zones, such as Lviv and Zhytomyr and even Kyiv, with visits from foreign leaders and pictures widely broadcast of Boris Johnson strolling with Volodymyr Zelensky in the sunshine. I doubt now, though, that I would feel safe anywhere as we move towards what must be the next phase of this terrible war.

What I just cannot understand is the logic of what Russia is doing. I appreciate that the original plan may have been to take over the country in a rapid exercise and bring its government back under Soviet control which Russia imagined the people might generally put up with and so put a stop to any further development of support for Ukraine by the West and, primarily, NATO. I don't recall reading anything about anyone in the West being particularly concerned about invading Russia. To the best of my knowledge no-one in Ukraine was planning to seize any Russian territory in February 2022. Yes, Ukraine, and to a lesser extent, some other nations, disputed the action taken by Russia in 2014 to take over Crimea and there has been constant argument about where the eastern border should run, but no-one was about to give Putin any particular trouble.

There was no love lost between Ukraine and Russia and there were certainly matters to be resolved but there were many families in Ukraine with relatives in Russia and many Russians with families in Ukraine. Many people lived in one country and worked in another. Although Ukrainian had been made the official language for the country's business activities, Russian was still widely spoken and accepted as normal across the country. People spoke both languages and no-one really objected, other than a few hard-liners. It was, after all, not that many years since Ukraine and Russia were simply two republics in the USSR, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. We talk of 'Russia' now and often mean the whole of the rest of the USSR but that's really quite inaccurate. Russia is the Russian Federation now and, whilst it is a large area on the map, 'Russia' does not include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belorussia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan, not to mention Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania which are now in the European Union. Russia is still big but nothing like as influentially big as what we used to think of as 'Russia', i.e. the Soviet Union.

So Putin's talk of wanting to 'reclaim' the territory called Ukraine but which he does not recognise as an independent nation now seems bizarre - unless he also proposes to do the same with all the other errant states. I guess some may remain friendly and would welcome a new overarching Soviet banner but most would not. Georgia and Armenia have already had some border troubles and now fiercely defend their independence and support Ukraine in words but don't do much of material value.

And that seems to be the way things are across the world. Everyone says how bad it is. How terrible that a whole country is being destroyed - and I mean destroyed as some cities appeared to have completely disappeared, population included - with no industry or infrastructure remaining of much use to anyone who might wish to return one day. What on Earth can be the point of causing so much destruction? Let's say Russia does, eventually, take control. What have they got? A massive wreck that would cost a fortune to rebuild. A fortune that Russia neither has nor would be able to acquire. An unwilling, slave-like population would be forever resisting their control and fighting locally would go on in pockets here and there. No amount of policing and new government would prevent chaos and no economy would be restored without people willing to work to help Russia and that is one thing no Ukrainian is going to do in such circumstances. So 'winning', if one can call it that, achieves merely massive debt, continued fighting in places for years and years and what would be an empty vessel of a nation that Russia would not be able to afford to fix or manage.

Putin may have the satisfaction that there would be no NATO forces any closer than Poland but that would have been the position anyway as NATO were not exactly enthusiastically supporting any membership for Ukraine before. Indeed, with Finland and Sweden now becoming members it could be argued that he has achieved the reverse in terms of border security.

So I am at a loss to comprehend what this is really all about. And because this whole action by Russia has been so destructive, so bad, so inhuman and, whatever one's religion, so evil in all respects, so totally unjustifiable on any grounds that I can think of, it simply cannot, must not, be permitted to succeed. The United Kingdom and one or two other countries have helped Ukraine to some extent by supplying weapons and no doubt our assistance in training the Ukraine military has helped them survive this long, but it is nowhere near enough. I doubt that there will ever be sufficient assistance if all we do is supply weapons or advice. From Day 1 countries should have been prepared to assist militarily. If Russia had seen that we were serious in our intent to defend Ukraine then they would almost certainly have had cause to think twice about their actions. As it has been, we shout and moan and complain and wring our hands. It hurts no-one. Our sanctions have little impact and some even argue that they have enhanced Russia's economy with far higher fuel prices for their gas and oil. Other sanctions they will largely find ways around and the population will not be badly affected in terms of day-to-day life. I do think that the population must, however, at some point realise that they have been severely duped and surely the average Russian has a similar intelligence to the average European and will eventually see that what their country had done is wrong and needs to stop. I fear that we cannot wait for such realisation to dawn on the addled heads of the Russian populace, though. That will take years. Ukraine hasn't got years. Action is needed now. Countries should now show just how annoyed we all are with events and make it abundantly obvious to Putin that he either leaves Ukraine now or his troops will be defeated. We're not threatening to bomb Russia yet but we will do whatever is necessary to return Ukraine territory to its original lines on 23 February 2022.

The fear that everyone does seem to have and which has to be the only reason I can imagine feasible for not taking any action is that of being attacked ourselves. We are afraid that there will be a missile landing on Milton Keynes, Buckingham Palace or, more likely, some military place where we have lots of special weapons. Actually, it is not us that are frightened it is the leaders of our nations. They do not want to be the ones who cause the missiles to be fired. They worry that we would blame them for the deaths and injuries which would be the inevitable result. I can see their point. As things stand only Ukrainians get killed or injured. Only Ukrainians lose their properties, business, livelihood, possessions, families, children. Only Ukrainians suffer at the moment. So that's OK. We're safe as houses here in the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Malta, Switzerland, Estonia, Lithuania, Italy, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Finland, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ireland, Hungary, Romania. Moldova and anywhere else I've forgotten in Europe . . . we're all OK, Jack. Qh dear, what a shame. People's lives, their whole world, are being totally devastated in Ukraine. But we're OK. Better keep it that way.

This is wrong. I hope that some leaders will also conclude that this is wrong. And go fight. Send in our planes, drones, defence systems, missiles, whatever we have that they need and the people to help them do it. Do whatever is necessary to stop Russia in its tracks now. Send them home and start repairing Ukraine. And send Russia the bill.

"Russia has nuclear weapons" is what most detractors say. Russia even claim to have some new supersonic missile which can reach us here in the UK in a few minutes. So that is why we don't take any more action? Because someone might fire something at us? But it's OK for Ukraine people to be fired on every night and day? Just not us, thank you very much. On that logic, just having a nuclear weapon seems to mean that you can wave it around and basically do whatever the hell you want . . . oh, hang on, don't we have nuclear weapons? And don't the United States, France and Israel? (Pakistan, India, China and North Korea do too but I can't see them taking our side in a fight - and probably not Russia's either). So why don't we wave ours around and, with France and the United States, at least, make it quite clear that we're quite capable of firing stuff in Russia's direction if it proves necessary. However crazy you might think Putin may be, he is not going to risk taking all of us on. Only Ukraine (or, possibly Moldova too). He won't even nuke them because his own people would be affected if the wind blows radiation their way.

So can someone please stand up and start making plans to put this great wrong right. 

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