Tuesday, June 20

Complete and utter nonsense. A stupid, pointless invasion continues.

And so it goes on. Here we are in late June 2023, a year and a half since Russia started killing people in Ukraine for no apparent reason that anyone has adequately explained to me. The total pointlessness of what Russia has been doing for all this time is remarkable. Nothing of any value to anyone has been achieved, other than roubles in the pockets of a number of senior military people, several of whom see war as a business and one hell of an opportunity to make money.

Pages have been written about Putin's desire to change the very existence of Ukraine. Some say he wants the country to be totally absorbed into Russia, others that he wants it simply deleted. Some say it is a nation of Nazis and yet all the evidence of how the population of Ukraine have been treated so far points very much to the Russian leaders being the ones who have been behaving like Hitler's German leaders did in World War II. I appreciate that Russia will want to use propaganda to attempt to maintain some control over the Russian people generally and, more specifically, to give their troops some reason for what they're asked to do, but how can so many people believe such nonsense as is being written and described in speeches or presented on their TV screens or in their newspapers?

It really is all complete nonsense. No-one has been able to give me one reason for the invasion. No-one can give me any reasonable explanation for killing so many innocent Ukrainians. No-one can explain why vast areas of Ukraine are now flooded, with tens of thousands of families losing homes, farms losing crops and, so very sadly, huge numbers of animals perishing, not only as a result of the dam being destroyed but also since day one from missiles destroying buildings, mines now all over the place and so many families who might have once looked after them having had to leave the country.

What have we done? From what I can tell we have provided Ukraine with just the bare minimum to enable them to fight back - but no more. Russia appear able to prevent any significant Ukraine advance through a  never-ending troop replacement at the front line. There may have been some minor regaining of control over some villages and towns in the East but the prospect of Ukraine forces being able to push Russian forces back to where they were in February 2022 is really not something we can realistically envisage, much as though we would want to. Of course, this sort of stalemate position is better than what might have been the case had we done nothing but I would not want to be the Western leader who announces that the Ukraine people should be thankful for small mercies.

When I say 'we' I mean all of us who believe that what Russia did and has done since to be wrong, indeed, more than wrong, very bad, disgusting, appalling, criminal, hateful . . . add your own terms. There can surely be no-one in what I'll loosely refer to as the West who can in any way justify supporting Russia's actions to date. 

In February 2022 I advocated that we had to do much more than shake our heads and send a bit of money or some equipment, whilst adding a proviso that this must only be used in defensive operation or to support attack within the Ukraine borders. We needed to have troops on the ground and in the background too, advising and supporting the rapid removal of Russian troops and restoring previous borders as an urgent priority. We should make it clear that we have no truck with the Russian people and do not propose to start bombing Russian sites but we would be prepared to take out any site in Russia from which missiles were fired and caused losses in Ukraine.

I said then that we could not possibly justify standing back and just watching what may or may not happen. We had plenty of supportive words and gestures - and slowly equipment and funds and training support have been provided too - but Russia has never really felt threatened. Indeed, it has been us, and primarily Britain, that has been threatened by Russia with damage threatened ranging from missiles hitting a city here to the whole British Isles being demolished in a tsunami created by some explosion of some sort that they claimed to be capable of creating. We appear to be terrified of what might happen if we do start fighting, as opposed to standing on the touch line and cheering.

What would Russia really do? Faced with troops from all the NATO countries, plus a few more who can be persuaded to be on the right side of history, Russia would not take long to count who might support their side. China would not, nor would India who really only wanted cheap oil. Iran and North Korea have to be the only two realistic propositions of support for Russia. North Korea may have a few missiles but I would seriously doubt their reliability and I am of the view that the country has its own problems with a very under-nourished population with an army that may be numerous but not able to do a great deal other than threaten South Korea. Iran hasn't got a great deal more than drones and some aircraft, being some way off any viable missiles of any threatening nature. Russia would threaten to drop some nuclear bombs here and there but they would have to get through countries' defences and just one red button pressed would instantly result in a mass of their weapons bases and no doubt some cities too being hit by the West. In a matter of days it would be obvious, if it hopefully weren't clear earlier, that Russia does not stand a chance of winning against such opposition and if the current leader doesn't recognise that then there will be several who will and, one way or another, it all stops dead before the world ends as we mistakenly seem to assume it inevitably must.

A new leader in Russia can explain away the idiocy of a previous one, especially one who disappears, as Putin would. They can accept 'losing' as they can claim not to have supported the whole thing in the first place. The West would assist them with the phrasing to make it easier and less embarrassing, of course. 

There is a risk, yes, that some people in countries other than Ukraine get killed and injured. It could be your town that gets hit by a Russian missile that does get through our defence system on that dreadful day when World War III appears to have begun. No-one wants their town to be hit. But no-one in Ukraine wanted their towns to be hit and look what has happened. They have been hit. Friends and relatives have been killed, injured, their children have just disappeared. But if you'd asked them what they would do if threatened by Russia then they would unanimously have said "We will fight". They would have accepted the risk that they, and some friends a little further away might get hurt. Sometimes risks have to be taken. If you say to your opponent that you won't take the risk then he has a wonderful opportunity to continue to do bad things and pursue whatever crazy purpose he may have in Ukraine in the full knowledge that we won't dare to do anything. Just as we have really not done anything. And we should not fool ourselves into believing that we have been so generous and brilliant in what we have done. If we'd really wanted to help we should have shown Putin just what the stakes really are, that we are prepared to take the risk because it's the right thing to do. We want to be able to sleep at night in years to come, in the knowledge that, whilst a bit late, we did finally take action and brought this thing to a conclusion that was right. 

NATO needs to send troops in very soon, with full air support and, ideally preceded by umpteen secret missions to disable as many of Russia's attack systems as possible and some smart efforts and hacking to free the Russian people from all the garbage they get on TV and in their media.