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Ukraine at War

Margaret Thatcher


Russian Aggression Intensifies!

Since Vladimir Putin took control of Russia there has been an inexorable increase in the aggression shown to its neighbours and ex-Soviet states whenever they show too much interest in turning to the west. And although the west encourages these interests they run for the hills every time the Russian bear growls its warnings. Putin has been a strong leader for Russia, high profile, and genuinely popular, but he is also stubborn and headstrong, and his latest adventure in Ukraine has attracted severe economic repercussions for Russia, conveniently (?) coinciding with the oil price slide.....! Putin took blatantly obvious advantage of Ukraine's recent political turbulence to invade Crimea and then, seeing little interest from the international community, he went on to do the same in the East of Ukraine.
Ukraine, like many ex-Soviet states, wants to join the EU, to shake off the malaise which is a hangover from Soviet times, and to modernise and enjoy the freedoms which come with closer links to Europe. But a large number of (mostly older) people there are resisting change, they still remember fondly the Soviet times, when all basic services were provided and "freedom" was never even discussed. In many ways it was an easy life, with good community spirit, as long as you worked hard and asked no questions you were looked after and left alone. Many of these people are Russians, who still see the Soviet era as a Golden Age. The younger Ukrainians, many born after the Soviet break-up, see things differently, they see stagnation, they see isolation, they see Russia still living in the Soviet era, and they want change. They want the freedom enjoyed by western countries, including visa-free travel, economic security, wealth, and modern housing and infrastructure. In the east, close to the Russian border, live a large number of ethnic Russians who have been easily persuaded to fight the Ukraine government on Russia's behalf. They want to rejoin the Soviet Union and recapture the "Glory Days", for them the Ukraine government is remote and their allegiance has always been to Moscow. So when Putin offered to arm the terrorists they jumped at the opportunity, and no doubt Russian observers and special forces were also involved, particularly in training and operating the high-tech weaponry such as the BUK missile systyem which shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 killing all onboard. Russian troops have died in Ukraine, their families being told they died in accidents. Putin has blood on his hands, thousands of Ukrainians and Russians, and the hundreds of innocent passengers and crew of MH17. His country and people now suffer economic hardship as a result of his adventure, but still he continues because of course his reputation is built on strength he cannot afford to back down. The west bleats and postures but they will let Russia do as it wants, the have no appetite for confrontation. In this the UK is even less relevant than elsewhere, having nothing to say on the subject, it as been left to France, Germany and the USA to do the talking this time.
So Ukraine is left to struggle against Russian terrorists armed with a modern and unlimited supply of weapons, and the regular Russian armed forces, while itself having obsolete and insufficient equipment to defend itself. And the West has turned its back, not wishing to upset Russia by helping Ukraine. It is a shameful attitude, but typical of Obama, Cameron and company. None of them have the backbone shown by Putin, so this war will drag on until he decides he has enough territory, or until something unexpected happens to assist the Ukraine government. Meanwhile hundreds or thousands more will die uselessly, while the West busily revises its sanctions list of individuals with travel restrictions!
On a personal note I visited Odessa in Ukraine in 2007, and had a very enjoyable holiday there. Wonderful food, friendly people, and no trouble at all in the entire country. It is sad to see how it is now. I also have Russian friends (and ex-wife!) so I know a little more than the average Brit about Russia and Russians. Indeed I have more Russian friends than British - this is not their fight, it is Putin's. Politicians create these problems, not the people, always politicians, the people and troops though fill the body bags. Unfortunately however Putin has built a personality cult and so has good support from many Russians, who both agree with his aims and believe in his denials......!