War in Ukraine

David Cameron is not irrelevant or wrongly absent from the issue of the future of Ukraine. The decision of Germany and France to take up the question of peace with Russia does not make the UK irrelevant any more than it makes the USA irrelevant. Russia is well aware that NATO is the main decision making body over the use of western force, and the UK is an important part of NATO’s political decision making and command structure.

Let me begin by making clear I do not support Russia. I condemn any supply of Russian arms to the rebel forces, and any use of Russian military personnel to help them. The last thing the Ukraine needs is more weapons and further resort to violence.

By the same logic I do not support the west supplying weapons or military assistance to the Ukrainian government. The west should do all it can to promote a political settlement within the troubled territory. Sometime the protagonists are going to have to sit down and talk to each other, so why not start now rather than after hundreds more have been killed by both sides in the conflict.

Ukraine shows that far from being a force for peace in Europe, the EU can become a destabilising influence. Ukraine was relatively stable before the EU offered closer links with Ukraine and encouraged politicians sympathetic to the west in what was a very split country. Today the pro western government in Kiev is unable to speak for many of the Russian language citizens in their area, with the dreadful consequences we see. I do not want the west actively supporting or encouraging a government which shells and fires on its own civilians, whatever the provocation. I want the west to assist that government to talk to all its citizens and discuss what a new political settlement might look like that could meet the legitimate political aims of the many in the parts of Ukraine that do not currently look to Kiev for succour.

Russia may well be trying to split the west by hosting Germany and France. Nonetheless I wish Germany and France well in seeking a negotiated peace. Of course they must make clear that NATO will not accept Russian military expansion into NATO guaranteed countries that wish to remain independent of Russian control. They are however right to see if there is a political way forward in a country close to Russia, a non NATO member, which has stumbled into civil war in part thanks to the offers of the EU as well as owing to Russian military opportunism. We are told they will try to draft a paper and talk again at the week-end.

I do not support or welcome EU adventurism, whilst condemning Russian aggression. The EU has behaved badly. It needs to redeem itself by leading overtures for a peace in Ukraine based on voices and votes, not shells and guns.

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60 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    Exactly.

  2. Gary
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Are you sure it is that old dog, the EU, that should be kicked again ?

    If I remember correctly it was an American female official who was caught swearing on audio at the EU because they did not want to get involved. That was just before the Maidan coup.
    Hague was touring Kiev at around that time. Why?

    So why focus on the EU ?

    If/when the EU disintegrates British Tory politicians will be lost.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      It was, and still is, the EU, the US and NATO harnessed together, what I have termed the EU/NATO/US “troika”. NATO to provide military security in a new territory as a prerequisite for the EU to be able to provide the civil government, the EU itself still lacking the military muscle to be able to defend its acquisitions and therefore still reliant on the US through NATO. Of course there may be some disagreements about tactics, both between some of the NATO members in Europe and between some of them and the US, and also Canada, but the overall strategy is clear.

      Its latest expression is to open a NATO training centre in a non-NATO country, Georgia, which like Ukraine has long been lined up as a potential member of first NATO and then the EU, the usual sequence:

      https://euobserver.com/defence/127529

      “Nato to open facilities on Russia’s doorstep”

      • Gary
        Posted February 7, 2015 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        “It was, and still is, the
        EU, the US and NATO
        harnessed together”

        I agree entirely with that.

        NATO broke all agreements and steadily has been encroaching eastwards, until the name North Atlantic treaty organization means nothing.

        This is probably a bunch of bankrupt states trying to annex the richest natural resourced country in the world with 15% debt to gdp.

        after all, the west has been trying since Napoleon to annex Russia.

      • Jerry
        Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        @Gary; “Are you sure it is that old dog, the EU, that should be kicked again?”

        Indeed it is not, although their obvious expansionist agenda towards the Ukraine was not helpful in respect, that said Russia wasn’t so bothered about the EU, it was…

        @Denis Cooper; [URL citation]“Nato to open facilities on Russia’s doorstep”

        …the idea that NATO could in effect surround the Russian naval base in the Crimea that seems to been the last straw once Ukraine’s legitimately elected pro Russian government was toppled by the pro EU rabble. Couple all that to the fact that much of the eastern Ukraine (including Crimea) is ethnically Russian anyway…

        I’m glade to hear this morning that the US administration seems to be somewhat rowing back on the ludicrous idea that they could send arms to the “pro western” government in the Ukraine!

      • stred
        Posted February 7, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        An interesting read in the Euobserver and links to the DT Rasmussen interview. Having just read the Churchill Factor by Boris and the chapter The Cold War and How He Won It, it was notable that Churchill went out of his way to say that he had nothing against the Russians as a people but detested communism. He predicted how far and when the Soviets would push to form his Iron Curtain and realized that they could easily have taken their advance to the Atlantic. He predicted the fall of the communist empire and did his utmost to avoid advances and have ‘summits’ in order to defuse the dangers. The alliance that became NATO was his idea and put forward in 1946 in his speech at Fulton, after being invited by Truman.

        Today we have the ex NATO chief, Mr Rasmussen, ex PM of Denmark and Blair follower, telling us that Gorby was wrong to say that the West had ratted on agreements not to push eastwards and documents released in Washington prove that the paperwork shows otherwise. While the new chief, Mr Stoltenberg, or Steklov, as he was known to his KGB contacts (see Wiki), ex PM of Norway, ex Workers Youth League, influenced by his sister in the Marxist Red Youth, announcing various new ‘spearhead’ centres to be set up from the Baltic to Georgia. Just the right move to de-escalate a confrontation, as the West and Russia face a bunch of fanatics from a new direction.

        While all the MSM tell us that the Russian president, who has seen much progress in the conversion of the Russian economy from communist to capitalist, and has high levels of support because of the previous improvement in the economy, is aiming to invade and reinstate the Soviet empire. So far he has held a referendum in Crimea and taken it back, having lost it when it was transferred during the USSR days and he has supported separatist rebels. He has never said that Russia wishes to incorporate Eastern Ukraine, but that it should be free to run its own affairs, raise taxes and keep its local language- so far refused by the new Kiev president. Perhaps we should send Eural out to explain how his ‘deal’ for the Scots works.

        Instead there have been threats to destroy the rebels and shelling of civilian areas in the middle of winter. Would Churchill have backed the western Ukrainians, some of whom were fighting for the Narzis, or would he have told both sides to stop fighting and set up a federal system, as the Allies favoured in West Germany?

        After reading his book, Boris has gone up 100% in my personal approval ratings.

      • Timaction
        Posted February 7, 2015 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        Exactly right. This was reported in RT last week when it described how Russia could never allow expansion of NATO and therefore the EU on its doorstep, anymore than the USA would allow infringement close to its own territory. Why does the EU/USA/EU imagine they can play by different rules? Anyone would think they are being deliberately provocative. They have, with obvious enlargement overtures that Russia will not allow.

    • Vanessa
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      The EU offered Ukraine a “Treaty for trade” but when the government of that country read it, they realised it was a Join Now treaty and not trade unless they joined the EU. It was an unacceptable “back door” bully tactic to enlarge the EU and they got a bloody nose because Ukraine valued its close relationship with Russia and did not want to join – just trade. This was the start of all the problems. Putin saw the EU stepping over Russia’s borders and he acted in the only way he could. The EU needs to stop bullying countries and be more respectful of sovereign states which it does not control.

  3. Hefner
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Very sensible. Thanks.

  4. Excalibur
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    A succinct summary, as usual, JR. Indeed, the EU has behaved badly. Let’s hope the current negotiations bear fruit. What, one asks, is the point of EU attempts to integrate the basket case that is Ukraine into its sphere of influence. I should have thought it has enough problems at home.

  5. Mark B
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I seem to remember that in the beginning, the EU was very forward and full of itself. Giving out cookies and moral support to the ‘protestors’ in Maiden Square. Now that things have gone bad, the EU seems to have ducked for cover and does not want to be seen in trying to undo the mess it created. It has left it, once again, for National Governments to try and clear up its mess. Of course, once things start to look favourable, up again they will pop to take the lead and the credit. To paraphrase an old quote; “EU good, National Governments baaaad !” 😉

    The trouble is, no one can backdown from this. The EU cannot be seen to have its first major foreign policy adventure fail, and Russia cannot for obvious reasons. And a compromise is difficult. Putin has suggested that Ukraine be split. The Ukrainian Government would not like this, as most of the natural resource wealth I believe would go to the rebels (sic). Leaving the Ukrainian Government with all that debt. The EU would like to fast-track Ukrainian membership, but having yet another impoverished debt ridden and quite corrupt government, with the bill for the environmental mess of Chernobyl to pay for. I be no one ever stopped to think about that ?

    Sadly, I think this has much further to go, with even greater loss of life. And all because politicians could not leave well-alone.

    As for Merkel and Hollonde going ? Well I think it has more to do with Greece than it does Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Minister was the first to congratulate Alex Sipras and SYRIZA upon winning their election. German and French banks have more to lose from Grexit than anyone else. Not fact I know, just a hunch.

    • bigneil
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      “The EU would like to fast-track Ukrainian membership”. Another 45m from a corrupt country “entitled” to walk in here, collect all their taxpayer funded free lives and vote. Oh what joy. Still, we can always borrow even more to give away.

    • forthurst
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      “Putin has suggested that Ukraine be split.”

      I do not recall him stating that publicly; I do not think he has moved from his original position that Ukraine should be federalised; unfortunately, we now know that the objective of the Kiev putchists is to ‘racially’ cleanse the Donbass of Russian speakers so that they can take over the industrial heartland of the country; this is why they have been deliberately targetting civilians and civilian infrastructure. That strategy has certainly succeeded in the short term as there approaching a million refugees in Russia, and similar number have moved elsewhere in Ukraine and to Crimea. There can be no end to the fighting whilst the putschists’ ordnance is in range of the Donbass population.

  6. Alan
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    No matter how enticing the EU may have been to the Ukraine I don’t think it provides any justification at all for the Russian armed invasion of the Crimea or eastern Ukraine.

    • dennisambler
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      “Russian armed invasion of the Crimea” I don’t think it was quite like that was it?

      The majority in Crimea wanted protection from Russia.

    • forthurst
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      A non sequiter which also begs the question: on January 30th, Viktor Muzhenko, Chief of the General Staff, clarified to foreign militiary attachées that there are no Russian active service units fighting with the Novorossiyans. Furthermore, the OSCE on the Russian/Ukrainian border reported on January 22 that they had observed no movements of the Russian military. As to Crimea, there were already about 22,000 Russian forces present there by treaty which may have deterred the Kiev putchists from launching a war against the civilian population after their democratic decision to return to Russia, in the way that they have done in response to the democratic decisions taken in Novorussiya.

      • zorro
        Posted February 7, 2015 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, it is well worth reading the OSCE reports rather than listen to the fantasies of BBC reporting. It is noticeable that the BBC rarely, if ever, refer to the Ukrainian government forces shelling civilian positions. It is just just shelling of civilian positions….. by someone or something. This is a deeply embarassing period in which to live where we see western foreign policy in action and it is not a pretty sight….

        zorro

  7. Anglo Norman
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    The Ukraine’s future should not lie with Russia or the EU but in national self determination. Something that cannot be achieved if Ukraine is merely an appendage of greater political and geographical empires. The Ukraine needs to be free to trade on its own terms and with both Europe and Russia. The petty attempts to scupper the Russian economy through the manipulation of the Oil market is shortminded but could have damaging longer lasting deflationary effects around the globe. Only a diplomatic solution can rescue the damage caused by US brokering of the political process in the Ukraine.

  8. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I agree; 5,000 killed in 2014 is enough and those who are being or threatened to be displaced can also be life shattering. I hope sense reigns between Merkel , Hollande and Putin.

  9. Richard1
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Who is this general who has described Mr Cameron as an irrelevance? One would have thought generals as a group would have acquired a little humility after their lamentably inadequate performance in Iraq and Afghanistan. Great courage and professionalism was shown by UK forces on the ground, but the generals whose hubris encouraged – or at least didn’t actively oppose – the mission creep and foolish high expectations in Afghanistan and Iraq have not served their Queen and country well.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Richard,

      We need to bear in mind who sent our armed forces to Afghanistan and Iraq in the first place at a time when they were so ill quipped.

      As for Cameron being an irrelevance, perhaps Merkel and Hollande didn’t want him there because he wouldn’t be able to offer anything constructive to the debate, or maybe he was excluded at Putin’s request because he’s just a sock puppet for US foreign policy.

      Either way, yet another unnecessary war is looming, and if it goes the way of most other wars and gets out of everyone’s control, sunglasses and Factor 68 sun cream won’t help us when it all kicks off!

      Tad

  10. agricola
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Correct and sensible in every respect. Let’s hope the negotiators see it that way too.

  11. alan jutson
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    I know we cannot live in isolation, but sometimes I dream we could.

    The amount we have paid in money and lives over the centuries, when getting ourselves involved in conflicts abroad is simply staggering.

    Why is it that religion and politics create so much destructive hunger for more and more power.

    At least in centuries past the King would lead his troops into action, now the leaders direct others to do the dirty work on the front line from behind a desk.

    Fully aware we have to defend our interests, but where does our interest end.

    How many more basket cases are we willing to support via the EU.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      Your first sentence reflects very much how I feel.

      We are an island race and can, to certain extent, insulate ourselves from the worst. If Switzerland, a land-locked country can do it, why can’t we ?

    • libertarian
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      Alan Jutson

      Its perfectly possible for England to live in isolation. Like Switzerland we declare ourselves neutral, remove our grand standing politicians from their pompous, self inflated empire building. Trouble is that would require England to be a democratic country like Switzerland and of course we aren’t. So the answer to your plea, is first lets implement true democracy and the see how THE PEOPLE feel about foreign war interventions

  12. oldtimer
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    There is no easy solution here. It is not obvious that the three round the table have the means, beyond persuasion, to produce one. It seems unclear to what extent the protagonists on the ground are subject to control – either by Merkel/Hollande on the one side or Putin on the other. The rebel militias have their own agenda and momentum which is not necessarily the same as Putin`s in every respect.

    I, too, suspect that the sudden visit to Russia also has something to do with the evolving Greek situation. Like something to do with Russia keeping its nose out of EU matters.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      I have a theory. And it is just that, a theory ! I call it, “Displacement Foreign Policy”, where, instead of confronting your opponent directly, eg tit-for-tat sanctions, you embark on a series on measures that will bring political, militarily and economic discomfort, or the threat of.

      To explain. Look what has happened regarding Argentina and the leasing of some old Russian SU-24 Fencer bombers. It does not make much sense. These bombers are old and difficult to maintain and service. Yet, Russia was happy to lease them in exchange for Beef and other products. Politically, this is quite significant. It is the first shot in a political alliance. This forces the UK to send forces or act in a way that was unintended and/or unwanted. In short, he is pulling our strings and is ‘displacing’ us. Why do you think Russian TU-95 Bear bombers are back ? Why do you think Russian subs are at the mouth of the Clyde, forcing the UK and others in a pointless cat and mouse hunt ? Showing both the people of the UK and the world how imputation we have become under this government.

      Putin is playing a game way above the ability of those around him. Looking for weakness and seeking to exploit them. Concessions will come, he will slowly but surely gain them, and his grip over Ukraine will slowly tighten. The EU will sell Ukraine out if they think it will harm long term relations with Russia and damage and divide the EU. Ukraine need to understand, that they are just not worth it. And when they do, it will kill any chance of EU and NATO membership and Cameron’s dream of an EU from the Atlantic too the Urals.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 7, 2015 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        Putin is a gambler and the more he losses the more he gambles and with ever higher stakes. Russia is dependent on sales of energy as it has little other industries. When oil prices were high he felt empowered, and decided to take on Ukraine. The game has now changed and by his own words said to his security chief that he knows what happens to Russian leaders. They end up against the wall and this is why he has been beefing up his internal security and helping his chums including putting massive amount of business through organizations recently such as Bank Rossiya. Putin’s brand of crony capitalism has turned loyalists into billionaires whose influence over strategic sectors of the economy has in turn helped him maintain his iron-fisted grip on power.

  13. English Pensioner
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    The EU should never have got involved in Ukraine.
    From the Russian point of view, the EU is a Western Empire which is trying to expand.
    Russia has been invaded twice in the past, by Bonaparte and then Hitler and whilst we may think that Russia is paranoid, they are clearly worried about the EU expansion.
    The old east bloc countries have joined the EU, and the EU was interfering in Ukraine, helping to overthrow the previous president and trying to get them aligned with western interests.
    Ukraine was always part of greater Russia, many of its citizens, particularly in the east, and of Russian descent.
    I blame the EU on this occasion, not Russia, and the sooner this country gets out of the interfering EU the better. If Germany and France want to try another adventure into Russia, that’s up to them, they’ve already lost twice. We should keep out and should ensure that NATO does the same.
    It would be interesting to know how much money the EU has spent in its various devious activities in the Ukraine over the past five years or so.

  14. bluedog
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Dr JR says, ‘The west should do all it can to promote a political settlement within the troubled territory. ‘

    In theory, yes. But on what terms and what are the realistic prospects for Russian compliance? The Treaty of Budapest 1994 saw three powers, Russia, UK, USA, guarantee the borders of Ukraine in exchange for Ukraine’s surrender of its legacy nukes from the FSU. Everything the Russians have done in Crimea and the Ukraine last year and this year represents a breach of the treaty. It should be clear that without the credible threat of a military response by NATO, the Russians have not the slightest intent of honouring ‘a scrap of paper’. Putin is simply doing what he likes in Ukraine, lying to cover his tracks and he knows that neither the USA or the UK will stand by their treaty obligations. Thanks to Cameron’s strategic defence review and subsequent disarmament policy it is hard to see the UK taking effective action.

  15. Bert Young
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Good post this am . Ukraine never was a united country and no attempt by the EU will change its background . Its future can only be decided by the Ukranians . Cameron was right to keep out of the meting in Moscow .

  16. Francis Lankester
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    But mere words of condemnation are useless in the face of aggrssion. Russia has actually invaded Ukraine under the cloak of ‘separatists.’ What Ukraine needs is the modern weapons to defend its sovereign territory (something surely Conservatives believe in), and hopefully capture some Russian soldiers in order to put Russia in the dock. That will then deter it from doing the same thing in future.

  17. Mondeo Man
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    “I condemn any supply of Russian arms to the rebel forces,”

    Could someone please tell me how we define ‘rebels’ in this conflict ?

    A democratically elected President was ousted by a mini revolt. Why aren’t the revolutionaries who built the barracades – and want to be in the EU – called the ‘rebels’ ?

    The EU put foot on soil and interfered in a foreign country’s affairs, did they not ? To offer an in-store credit card to buy German goodies whereas Putin was offering hard cash.

    One could ask of anyone “Were you in support of the Iraq invasion ?”

    “No”

    “Well you were a Sadam Hussain lover.”

    Why the need to add caviats and disclaimers before stating that EU intervention in Ukrain is not good for my country. Now we have Russian incursions in our sea and air space because of our membership of the EU – along with easy access to our borders for ISIS.

    When will it stop ???

    Adopting BBC/EU language (rebels) is part of the problem.

    This is an issue of Pro EU and Pro Russian forces. The only rebels I can see are on the EU side.

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Next thing will be waves of unemployed Ukrainians to Britain.

      All this under a Tory lead government.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 7, 2015 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        They are already here and I have worked with some. In fact all of the Eastern Europeans nations are here. In Cambridge and Bedford they and their shops are everywhere.

      • Jerry
        Posted February 8, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        @Mondeo Man; “Next thing will be waves of unemployed Ukrainians to Britain.”

        Better that surely then being unemployed back in the Ukraine and looking for a fight with ethnic Russians that could cost the west (not just the UK) far more than any benefits bill, and if such a conflict gets out of hand it could make the (supposed) risk from Climate Change rather irrelevant…

        Non so blind as those who do not want to see further than the end of their own self-interests! 🙁

  18. formula57
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Your sensible words ring true, even alas where you tell us Mr Cameron is relevant and correctly absent. Ukraine represents a good opportunity for the UK to involve itself only from afar and only with platitudinous waffle: let us seize it.

    As for Angela and Francois, apparently they are not telling the EU what they are doing. Yes! According to euobserver.com: –

    “But Paris and Berlin are keeping details of the plan under wraps from most EU allies and from the EU institutions for now.

    “The working methods of the EEAS [the EU foreign service] are such that everything which should stay in the room doesn’t always stay in the room. So if the French and Germans have decided to put a final offer on the table, they don’t want it to be published the next morning because that would undermine their diplomacy”, another EU source said.

    From https://euobserver.com/foreign/127516

  19. forthurst
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    “…I do not support the west supplying weapons or military assistance to the Ukrainian government.”

    How then does JR counter the argument put forward by John McCain that by the US not supplying weapons to the putschists, the latter have been forced to deploy cluster bombs which are known to have caused the indiscriminate slaughter of the Donbass population although doubtless unacknowledged by the US? It is too easy, in US parlance, to say, “well, he’s bat s@@t crazy”. That’s what I always thought, but then when he was running for the Presidency, the party of which JR is still a member, rolled out the red carpet for him at their Annual Conference.

  20. Atlas
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Is it just me or do I see here shades of Munich in 1938 ?

    What I see is a carving up of a country by others outside it.

    • bluedog
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

      Exactly.

      After Ukraine, next stop the Baltic Republics, so that Russian once again has a land-bridge to its isolated enclave of Kaliningrad. You can see it coming.

  21. Gumpy Goat
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    The Russian are not friends of ours Putin wants to split the west rebuild the USSR. A stand must be taken, A lot of the establishment in the Ukraine are not Angels granted . Appeasement to the Putin is not the answer. Hopefully the US will send support to the Ukraine, The UK and EU far too week mind to do anything about it . Putin knows political power comes from the barrel of a gun, time for an increase in defence expenditure. The UK armed forces are so week due to cuts, shame on a tory led government for that. If Putin landed a force some where in the UK we could not do much about it. No maritime patrol aircraft, Navy shrunk, army with out of date kit. Look at the increase in the modernisation of the Russian forces, 200 new aircraft about to be deployed land forces being given the latest kit – one has to ask why?

    • forthurst
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      “Hopefully the US will send support to the Ukraine…”

      Hopefully, they will do no such thing; were the putschists, aided by the US, able to succeed in their war of aggression and indescriminate slaughter of the Russian speakers, Putin would be obliged to respond in kind; his domestic audience would brook no other course, therefore the decision on whether to commence WWIII is entirely with the neocon headbangers ensconced in the US Federal government.

      Perhaps, you might like to explain exactly why a war with Russia is in our interests, speaking as Englishmen, that is; you have already established that our armed forces could not take on a first world power, unless CMD himself is intending to assail the Ruskies with his megaphone mouth from the flightless deck of our white elephant of an aircraft carrier.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 8, 2015 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      You may have forgotten that Cameron proclaimed his desire to see Russia split up, at least that is assuming he was aware of the location of the Urals when he publicly said he wanted the EU to stretch that far east from the Atlantic.

  22. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I suppose if my exports and imports where impacting on my way of life badly, I’d have to do something. Sell anything to any trader, anywhere. Buy from anybody, anywhere.

    If its all my fault then I’d still have to do that. Driving me into a corner will make things much worse, because I still have capability. So really, do we have to find out exactly what that capability is, remembering its all been failure to date.

    I won’t go away, nor will Russia.

  23. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Had those Russian speakers chiefly but not exclusively resident in the East of Ukraine been English speakers, one would have expected the UK to supply arms to our people there,at least.

    In such circumstances it would be seen as abiding by protocol to entertain visitations to London by Holland and Merkel. However everyday British people here would meet them wherever they disembarked as they arrived be it on the landing grounds, the beaches, the streets or in the Houses of Parliament.
    Our police forces would not have sufficient personnel to hold back protesters.
    Russians are extremely polite.

  24. Max Dunbar
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Whether we supply arms to the Ukrainian Nationalists or not will be viewed by Putin quite dispassionately and simply be regarded as part of a game of chess. I can’t imagine that Putin will be losing much sleep over this, or the number of lost lives. Merkel and Hollande’s visit to Russia shows weakness. We can expect an increase in ‘rebel’ activity as a result of this.

  25. R.T.G.
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    According to Russia Today,
    “Sergey Lavrov told the 51st Munich Security Conference on Saturday that Moscow is well aware of the US’s real role in the Ukrainian crisis.

    “The US made it public it brokered the transit of power in Ukraine. But we know perfectly well what exactly happened, who discussed candidates for the future Ukrainian government on the phone, who was at Maidan, and what is going on (in Ukraine) right now,” Lavrov said.

    If the Russian Government knows this, then our government must know it also.

    (From http://government.ru/en/20 December 2014 07:00

    “Restrictions on the publication of earth remote sensing data and information have been lifted.”

    Submitted by the Defence Ministry pursuant to a list of instructions by the President of Russia following a meeting on the prospects for the development of the space sector in Blagoveshchensk on 12 April 2013 (No. Pr-1020, Item 1d, dated 8 May 2013).

    The directive establishes that remote sensing data and information received from foreign satellites and Russian civilian satellites do not constitute state secrets and can be publicly used in accordance with Russian law.

    These decisions will ensure the broad use of remote sensing data and information received from civilian satellites in Russia’s economic interests, and provide essential conditions for the development of the Russian market of services in this area.)

    The media in this country, especially the BBC, appears to be whipping up anti-Russian sentiment and clearly includes some propaganda. Could you please let me know which factions here and in Citadel USA are cracking the whip, Mr Redwood, preferably before ‘the Sunday roast’ takes on another meaning?

  26. REPay
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    The possible outcome of the EU’s desired expansion was widely reported at the time. The time to reach out to Russia was then. The EU clearly and cackhandeldly positioned the choice as Ukraine choosing between Russia and the EU. Ukraine could and should have ploughed a middle course.

  27. ian wragg
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    In some ways you have to commend Putin. He puts Russia first unlike our useless politicians. He has made a stand against the EU/UN/USA world government movement.
    America is fast losing its influence and domination of world affairs under the most lame duck president (except for Carter) in history.
    I suspect Hague is leaving politics because he has been absolutely useless and now side lined by the EU external Interference department.
    It is quite good to see the EU and CMD get a bloody nose and if Greece exits the EU I bet there will soon be a Russian naval base near Athens.

    • Margaret Brandreth-J
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      This is exactly how I feel about Putin. There is something about loyalty to ones own which rises above anything else ,but it depends upon whose lives become expendable to serve the collective interest and the degree of self -serving which may damage the original purpose or not.

  28. zorro
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    John’s views are sensible and should be pursued. The Ukrainian government is extremely suspect. They used the Kiev agreement to rearm and then invade their own country again, vowing to crush the ‘rebels’….. They have been defeated on the battlefield and large numbers of troops have been surrounded. They now wish to negotiate….appparently. There must be an immediate ceasefire and political negotiations between the factions on the future of the country.

    zorro

  29. Bazman
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    I keep banging this drum, but most of you fail to grasp how corrupt these two states are and this is the reason they hate each other so much. You all seem to believe that it is the fault of the EU, NATO and who is on which side. They are two of the most corrupt nations on earth and despite what Wiki says Ukraine should by placed as the most corrupt in the world and I have pointed out to you all before that Russia is run for the benefit of about a thousand people.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_in_Russia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_in_Ukraine
    It about theft and who shares the proceeds of the thieving, this is what the west need to understand above all else when dealing with these states.
    Sanction against individuals such as shopping trips for girlfriends in London not happening, confiscation of property, problems laundering money etc is what they all understand very well. Not much chance of that in London though is there?

  30. ian
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Yes war in ukraine, just like the second world war.
    They always go to war when they lose the economic argument. All you will hear is, if was for that we would of been alright.

  31. Javelin
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    If France and Germany fail then so does your argument.

  32. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I noted in the TV report that the President of Ukraine, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the US Vice-President Joe Biden were standing in front of the array of flags shown in the picture here:

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/merkel-expresses-uncertainty-over-ukraine-peace-deal-1423304102

    Namely, the flag of Ukraine, the EU flag, the German flag, and the US flag.

    • Jerry
      Posted February 8, 2015 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      @Denis Cooper; If the German state chooses to ‘fly’ the EU flag alongside their own then surely that is a decision for them, even more so when done in their own country? There really is no need for any ‘snideness’…

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 9, 2015 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        Was Germany speaking for the EU at this meeting?

        • Jerry
          Posted February 9, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

          @Denis Cooper; You point being what exactly?..

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted February 10, 2015 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

            Answer the question: was Germany speaking for the whole of the EU at this meeting, or only for Germany?

            Reply Germany is part of the Normandy group on Ukraine – comprising France, Germany, Russia, Ukraine.

  33. Cllr. Robert Barnard
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    One thing conveniently overlooked by those who seek to spin in the Kremlin’s favour is the Budapest Memorandum. The Russian Federation willingly signed this agreement and guaranteed to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine in return for Ukraine giving up its share of the USSR’s nuclear arsenal.

    Ukraine honoured its undertakings under the Budapest Memorandum but Russia has cynically chosen to act dishonourably and has invaded its neighbour while trying to hide that involvement by removing insignia from its troops and burying them in unmarked graves.

    Whatever the eventual outcome one thing should be borne in mind. Any agreement with Russia will not be worth the paper it is written on and this will remain the case even if some shabby ‘compromise’ is cobbled together to achieve another cease fire which Russia will ignore.

    Sanctions may be having an effect on the Russian economy with its credit rating reduced to junk-bond status but clearly they have not been sufficient to persuade that country’s elite to effect a change of direction. Maybe it is time for the EU to look at new measures but this time being prepared to will the means as well as the end.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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