Just when you thought we’d seen the back of all that, along comes Putin…

SOMETIMES it seems you have lived beyond history, seen the back of all that, only for events to upend the foolhardy assumption.

Those of us now in our 60s were born not that long after the end of the Second World War (11 years, in my case). That fact still surprises: surely not, you think, that was all so long ago.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine unleashed by the thuggish despot Vladimir Putin drags us back into history’s bomb shelter.

What to think, what to hope and what to dread; here are a few thoughts…

Those on the left and right have been caught out in their admiration for Putin.

From the sentimental socialists there is too often a reluctance to allow criticism of Russia, and a willingness to blame Nato/the US for all wrongs (Jeremy Corbyn is a cheerleader for this gang). Yes, the West may have overlooked a chance to build bridges with Russia after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but this bloodshed is all on Putin and his vengeful ego.

From the rancid right, you will find Putin fanboys such as Donald Trump, who when president basically fawned over the Russian leader, and our own Nigel Farage (“Vladimir Putin is the world leader I most admire,” The Independent, March 2014).

Also on the right is our prime minister, who seemed happy until recently to paddle in Russian money, some landing in his party’s coffers. In truth, successive prime ministers have indulged Russian wealth, earning our capital city the nickname Londongrad, thanks to the ease with which dirty Russian money can be laundered.

Putin has played both sides for fools, lying shamelessly about how he is not going to invade Ukraine, then marching straight in.

Of course, Putin has not physically gone anywhere, being safely at home as his young troops are sent to invade a country for reasons they may not understand, a country similar in many ways to their own. Instead, he stays at the end of that very long table, while his generals gather in a craven huddle in the far distance. A perfect symbol of a man divorced from reality, detached from humanity.

On any given day you will find criticism of the ‘mainstream media’. Trump loved that tacky phrase, and those on the left mutter it as they gather in disgruntled cabals online to complain that we are not being told the full story.

Maybe we never are told the full story about anything; but we are told a story. Our television news and our newspapers show what is happening, or their version of that. In Russia, the state media hides those Kremlin missiles firing at Kyiv, denies the existence of the war against Ukraine.

You do not have to like everything the BBC, ITN Channel 4 or Sky News broadcast, but the story is being covered by reporters who are on the ground and at risk, the likes of Clive Myrie and Lyse Doucet. That BBC pair have been calm and authoritative under pressure, with Mryie even allowing for humour:


But the reporting honours for yesterday went to the Ukrainian reporter Daria Kaleniuk, who ambushed our photo-op prime minister Boris Johnson in Poland with an abruptness he was not used to. Speaking directly and passionately, she said: “NATO is afraid of World War III. But it has already started. And it’s Ukrainian children taking the hit.”

Johnson looked uncomfortable, as well he might, especially when Kaleniuk told him that three-word slogans were not enough. His latest is “Putin must fail”, seriously meant, perhaps, but ‘just too glib’ (we can all play slogan Scrabble).

As for refugees from Ukraine coming to Britain, the message from the government seems cruelly convoluted. The kneejerk attitude was that refugees should stay in the first country they enter – a shameless Brit response, made in the knowledge that we will never be that first country.

One charming Tory MP, Kevin Foster, even said that Ukrainian refugees could apply for fruit-picking visas. The best response to that comes in the Times cartoon below by Morten Morland…

Our government’s approach to accepting refugees is to brag about how generous we are, only for greater exposure to daylight to reveal this to be untrue, before they hastily step back, while still leaving the picture deliberately hazy. And leaving refugees in need without an honest answer.

The EU, funnily enough, acted more quickly and with greater generosity, but we have our sovereignty (whatever that is), so that’s all right.


  1. Absolutely ludicrous ‘analysis’.

    Here’s some context your beloved BBC – and the rest of the clownish mainstream media – won’t give you:

    The Russians will see themselves as ending a war which has been going on for 8 years with little interest from the Western media in terms of accountability.

    This war, which has resulted in the deaths of at least 13,000 civilians, has been waged against the breakaway regions of Eastern Ukraine by the Ukrainian Government in Kiev, since a US/NATO sponsored right-wing coup overthrew the presidency of Viktor Yanukovich in 2014.

    This coup was bankrolled by NATO and enforced by the Neo-Nazis of the Ukrainian extreme right wing such as the Azov Brigade, a militia who during WW2 had their own SS regiment and sided with the Wehrmacht and Hitler’s cabal. Yanukovich was forced to flee to Moscow.

    The coup installed US puppets Petro Poroshenko as the President and Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the Prime Minister. Both have now stood down and the former has been replaced by Volodymyr Zelensky.

    After this violent coup, which culminated in provocateur snipers shooting police and protestors and the beating and murder of MPs, the provinces of Lugansk and Donbass which border Russia and are mostly populated by Ethnic Russians, declared their independence.

    The coup government in Kiev responded by sending in tanks and artillery, and there were massacres against ethnic Russians in other parts of Ukraine, such as in Odessa in the south.

    Russia responded by securing the mostly Russian Crimea and their military bases in Sevastopol in a mostly non-violent operation, and recognising the 2nd running of a referendum in which well over 90% of the population voted to return to Russian territory. It had originally been run in the early 90s but not honoured.

    Ukrainian military invaded Lugansk and Donbass and a Civil War has raged ever since, with an area called the “Grey Zone” forming a no man’s land of conflict about halfway across the regions. The Western side of those provinces has since been occupied by Ukrainian brigades while the Eastern side was held by Lugansk and Donbass militias, with some logistical and weapons support from Russia and help from mercenaries and volunteers. The Ukrainian side has been backed by NATO and Western mercenary groups.

    Putin and others negotiated the Minsk Accords, which were intended to create a ceasefire line along the grey zone and while not recognising independence, acknowledged some local autonomy.

    However, although Kiev signed the agreement, neither they nor their NATO / military contractor partners have abided by it, and Ukraine has continually engaged in a build-up of arms supplies from NATO, including some dangerous long-range missiles that can threaten Moscow; and, apparently, US-sponsored bio-weapons laboratories.

    After 8 years of constant attacks by Ukraine and their Western cronies against the separatist regions, some of which killed Russian citizens who worked in Eastern Ukraine, and some which actually crossed the border, shelling Russian villages, it appears the Russians have given up calling on their “Western Partners” to rein in Kiev and abide by the Minsk Accords.

    In recent months before Putin’s “Special Military Operation” there was an upsurge in attacks against the provinces along with increasing threats, troop movements and arms shipments by NATO, who encouraged Zelensky to be belligerent towards the separatists and Russia.

    Russia decided to finally recognise the independence of the DPR and LPR, before launching its military strikes. They did this only after intense diplomacy and appeals to NATO to respect the security and safety of both the separatist regions and Russian sovereignty. This all fell on deaf ears.

    Ukraine is a country with a massive spectrum of ethnic variation with full Ukrainians in the West and ethnic Russians in the East, with dozens of shades of grey in between, not to mention Romany, Tatar and other minorities.

    It’s possible that Ukraine will split in two, with other eastern regions that are Russia-friendly now having the confidence to strike out on their own.

    Russia seems to be intent on arresting Zelensky and other government officials for what they call “genocide” in Eastern Ukraine and, there are apparently anti-Nazi groups in Kiev who have started an uprising.

    Time will tell how this turns out, but it’s amusing to watch the Russians employing the same spin and euphemisms to justify their actions that NATO has always used, whenever they wanted to bomb someone.

    The losers will always be the civilians caught up in this vicious struggle. I suspect it will be over pretty soon, but then there will be guerilla war and terrorist attacks and years of consequences; but the blame really lies with the US for using Ukraine as a proxy to destabilise Russia.

    You won’t hear much of this context in Western Media, least of all CNN or the BBC. You’ll just get “West Good. Russia Bad” propaganda.

  2. You’d do well to read Russian FM Lavrov’s speech to the UN Human Rights Council, on 1st March. These don’t sound like teh words of a crazed, despotic regime to me. In fact, compared to the moronic utterings of our own politicians and press, they are rather more significant and thoughtful:

    “Ladies and Gentlemen,
    I hoped to be able to attend the Human Rights Council in person after a two-year break.
    However, I have been forced to address you via videoconference. The reason for this lies in the outrageous measures taken by the European Union, which has refused to respect one of the fundamental human rights – the right to freedom of movement. Members of the European Union chose the path of unilateral illegitimate sanctions and used them to avoid having to engage in direct honest dialogue, face to face. This is something that they are clearly afraid of.
    The situation around the world is becoming increasingly complex. It is deteriorating right in front of our eyes. This is because the United States and its allies persist with their aggressive efforts to impose the so-called “rules-based order” on other members of the international community. How has this “order” affected human rights? Ukraine is a telling example in this regard.
    It is the policy of the Washington-led “collective West” which is to blame for the fact that the Kiev regime has been at war with its own people since 2014. It has been at war with everyone who does not agree with the neo-Nazi “Maidan values,” with the criminal policy of the Ukrainian authorities, which have been systematically violating human rights and the rights of ethnic minorities, as well as the commitments Kiev has within the UN and the OSCE, and even the Constitution of their own country.
    The radical nationalists and neo-Nazis who seized power in Kiev following a government coup, supported by the West, unleashed terror on the country. The very recollection of the tragedy in Odessa, on May 2, 2014, makes us shiver. Peaceful demonstrators were burnt alive in the trade union building. We know the criminals who perpetrated this horrendous act. In fact, they posed for cameras, but have yet to be punished.
    The mass graves discovered in Donbass serve as irrefutable evidence of the criminal consequences from the massive shelling of civilian infrastructure. Forensics experts identified most victims as women and elderly people. Our Western colleagues have been ignoring the multiple facts relating to these outrageous violations of the most basic of human rights, the right to life. The attempts to draw the HRC’s attention to the violence and atrocities perpetrated over the past 8 years have been met with indifference.
    For all these years, the Ukrainian regime has been carrying out an aggressive policy to get rid of everything Russian and promote forced assimilation. People who identify as Russian and would like to preserve their identity, language, and culture, are told in all clarity that they are not welcome in Ukraine. Vladimir Zelensky referred to them as “species” and suggested that they go to Russia. He initiated a law on indigenous people, where there was no place for Russians who have been living on these lands for centuries. This is quite reminiscent of the laws Nazi Germany used to have. The Russian language is being purged from schools and universities, from the public space and even from everyday life. Quite frequently, people who speak their native language can pay for it not only with the loss of their jobs and health, but with their lives. Just imagine Ireland banning the English language, or Belgium the French language, or Italy the German language. This is unthinkable. Not only did the West fail to reject the frontal attack which has been launched against the Russian language in Ukraine, but some even encouraged it.
    Any sign of dissent leads to harsh consequences. “Cleansing” the government of objectionable and disloyal employees has become a routine process, the main tool of which is the law on lustration adopted by the Verkhovna Rada. There are many other legislative acts enabling the regime’s security forces to harshly suppress dissent and persecute the opposition. The authorities impose bans on TV channels and other media, and carry out reprisals against their own citizens, including members of parliament. Isn’t this a violation of the freedom of speech and the right to express one’s opinion?
    Lies about the Second World War are being shamelessly inculcated. Hitler’s local henchmen are proclaimed heroes, and actual anti-fascist heroes are forgotten. Monuments to those who defeated Nazism are being demolished. War criminals who fought in the ranks of the Third Reich are being glorified. The most recent step came in the form of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine sending a draft law about Ukraine’s withdrawal from the CIS Agreement on Perpetuating the Memory of the Courage and Heroism of the Peoples in the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War to the Verkhovna Rada on February 23. And so it was utterly blasphemous for Vladimir Zelensky to declare, on the very same day, that he honours the memory of his grandfather who fought in the Red Army to liberate the Soviet Union and Europe from Nazism.
    The Kiev regime even violated something as sensitive and personal as people’s spirituality. Religious discrimination is on the rise. The former authorities headed by President Poroshenko, with the support of Washington, effected a church schism and created what is now known as the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Laws have been adopted against the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Its churches are being seized, and millions of its parishioners and clergy are being persecuted. What is this other than a violation of religious freedom?
    These large-scale, systematic attacks on rights and freedoms, as well as the consistent effort to inculcate neo-Nazism, are being carried out with the express consent of the United States, Canada, and the EU who arrogantly proclaim themselves exemplars of democracy. They have also brought unceremonious pressure to bear on international human rights mechanisms of the UN, the Council of Europe and the OSCE, which were unable to muster the courage to respond accordingly to the egregious lawlessness in Ukraine during all these years.
    The West began to turn a blind eye to what was happening back in February 2014, when the radicals carried out an unconstitutional coup and tore up the agreement, backed by EU guarantees, with the then President of Ukraine. The putschists who came to power declared their intention of seeking alliance with the West and immediately launched an offensive against the Russian language, resolved to expel everything that is Russian from Crimea, and sent gunmen there. The eastern regions of Ukraine that opposed the coup were accused of terrorism, although they had not attacked anyone. On the contrary, punitive battalions were used against them; their cities were bombed from the air and fired at from artillery and multiple launch rocket systems. They destroyed civilian sites, schools, and hospitals. They killed civilians. An inhuman economic, transport and food blockade was imposed on Donbass. The Kiev regime got away with all of that. International organisations, at best, were limited to impotently calling on “both sides.”
    Clearly, in these circumstances, the people of Crimea and Donbass simply had no other choice. In March 2014, the vast majority of Crimeans, acting entirely in accordance with international law, supported the peninsula becoming part of Russia. Exercising the right of peoples to self-determination that is enshrined in the UN Charter allowed them to defend their right to life and to freely use their native language, their traditions, their history and culture. Kiev retaliated by blocking the North Crimean Canal which is the main source of fresh water for Crimeans. Again, no one said a word in response, despite the five international conventions that enshrine the right to safe drinking water.
    With regard to the residents of Donbass, after an agreement was reached in February 2015 on the UNSC-approved Minsk Package of Measures, they hoped that their voice would be heard and justice would prevail. They hoped that Kiev would start a dialogue with its citizens in Donetsk and Lugansk and begin to act on other obligations under the Minsk agreements, which, however, it has openly sabotaged with the direct support of the West while continuing its armed provocations.
    Recently, the Ukrainian regime’s criminal actions went into overdrive. As a result, since mid-February alone, more than 100,000 refugees from Donbass have found shelter in Russia. We have collected a massive base of evidence of flagrant mass violations of human rights committed by the Kiev authorities. The website of the Permanent Mission of Russia in Geneva posted an online exhibition of documents and photographs exposing the atrocities of the Ukrainian military and neo-Nazi “volunteer” battalions. I urge everyone who cares about human rights to visit this exhibition in order to find out the truth that the Kiev regime, its sponsors and most of the Western media are doing their best to conceal.
    In the face of gross violation of the rights of Russian and Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine, an eight-year war against them that bears every sign of genocide, the stubborn refusal of the West to get the Ukrainian authorities to fall in line and the absence of any response from UN human rights bodies, the OSCE or the Council of Europe, Russia could not remain indifferent to the fate of Donbass and its 4 million people. President Vladimir Putin resolved to recognise the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and, at the urging of the leaders of the DPR and LPR, to launch a special military operation to protect their residents in accordance with the treaties of friendship and mutual assistance with these republics. The goal of our actions is to save lives by fulfilling our allied obligations, as well as to demilitarise and denazify Ukraine so that this never happens again. This is particularly relevant as that country continues to be drawn into NATO and the current regime – which has openly made territorial claims against the Russian Federation, threatened to use force and to obtain military nuclear capabilities – is flooded with attack weapons.
    With regard to the recently launched campaign about the alleged violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, whose masterminds show total indifference and contempt for the violation of human rights, I would like to draw attention to the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. This document was adopted by unanimous resolution of the UN General Assembly and states that the principle of respect for territorial integrity is applicable to “states that observe in their actions the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples (…) and, as a result, “possessed of a government representing the whole people belonging to the territory without distinction as to race, creed or colour.” Clearly, the neo-Nazi government in Kiev continues to fail to meet that definition with regard to the peoples of Ukraine.
    The United States and its allies, which are directly responsible for numerous violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and are guilty of crimes that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan, once again apply double standards. The current Kiev regime is a vivid example of the fact that when you are a loyal vassal of the hegemon and participate with particular zeal in serving his policy of containing Russia, you can do anything you like. You can trample upon human rights and freedoms, kill people, and cultivate neo-Nazi traditions and practices. In exchange for your absolute fealty and obedience, the “civilised” West will turn a blind eye to everything. Moreover, the other day, the European Union, in a fit of Russophobic frenzy, decided to supply lethal weapons to Kiev. For us, the life of every Russian and Ukrainian, every resident of Donetsk and Lugansk, is as valuable as the life of a European or an American.
    As President Vladimir Putin repeatedly stated, we have invariably been respectful of the Ukrainian people, their language and traditions. We have no intention of encroaching in any way on the interests of the citizens of Ukraine, with whom we are bound not only by a common history as well as civilisational, spiritual and cultural affinity, but also by bonds of blood and kinship. Today, Russia is home to millions of people who were born in Ukraine. We consider them one of us. Together, we always have been, and always will be, so much stronger and more successful than apart.
    The main thing is to stop the time-servers who have illegally seized power from betraying the core interests of the Ukrainian people by pursuing the policy, favoured by the West, of turning their country into an “anti-Russia,” a policy that has become their raison d’etre. The true hysteria we are witnessing in NATO and the EU is further confirmation that creating an “anti-Russia” has been the goal of the United States and all the allies that Washington lined up behind it.
    As you may know, negotiations between Russia’s representatives and Kiev’s delegation have got under way at Vladimir Zelensky’s request. I hope that the Ukrainian side is aware of the seriousness of the situation and its responsibility, and grasps the need to display independence and a real willingness to negotiate, and to avoid a repeat of the Minsk accords record.
    I would like to conclude my remarks by reminding you that human rights are a universal constant. They cannot be dependent on the self-serving ambitions of a narrow “select circle” seeking to rewrite the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, distort it to their liking, and replace the current consensus underlying all our work with their “rules.” The role of the UN Human Rights Council is to ensure adherence to our common values, not someone else’s narrow values; to promote mutually respectful discussion without any politicisation or double standards; and not to allow the human rights agenda to be used to interfere in internal matters.
    We should be guided only by this approach as we strive to achieve justice on all issues affecting people’s vital interests, be it the institution of statelessness, which brings disgrace on Europe, the rising Nazi revival movement, or the West’s obsession with unlawful unilateral sanctions, whose impact on ordinary people no one tries to hide. These illegal restrictions are no longer confined to financial and economic prohibitions. They are being extended to culture, sports, tourism, education, information, and generally all contacts between people. The West has clearly lost control of itself and, in an attempt to take it out on Russia, has taken to destroying all the institutions and rules it has itself created, including the inviolability of property.
    The West’s arrogant philosophy based on a sense of its own superiority, exceptionalism, and licence must come to an end. The sovereign equality of states is a key principle of the UN Charter. It fully applies to the UNHRC’s work. Russia has always been open to equitable and mutually respectful discussions of all matters and is ready to seek a fair balance of interests.”

  3. Oh, and if you have time (I’m not sure how ‘deeply’ you’re prepared to think about this crisis, beyond penning the odd blogette), this is a great discussion providing valuable insight from several of those who know more about the Russian / Ukrainian situation than most.

    Scott Ritter’s contributions (the former UN Weapons Inspector & US Marine Corps Intelligence Officer) are particularly notable:


Leave a Reply