I suppose just about everybody has seen images of destruction during World War II. Shattered cities, refugees fleeing with whatever they had, people released from concentration camps, prisoners of war. They’re all horrible; they all leave an impact.
But this war in Ukraine is being brought to us minute by minute via the few news crews brave enough to stay and the phones of people who had no choice but to live through it, right now. The bombed maternity hospital, with the heavily pregnant woman on a stretcher being carried away. The eleven-year-old kid who presented himself to Ukrainian soldiers wanting to fight. The refugees crowded into evacuation trains saying goodbye, maybe forever, to a father and husband. An old lady with nowhere to go. It’s all so immediate, so relevant to everybody now.
And still the West waits.
Sanctions won’t work. India and China will provide markets for Putin, and ways to get around whatever has been put in place. Yes, the Russian people will find life gets hard but Putin doesn’t care. Well, if his aim was to go into the history books like his idol, Stalin, he has succeeded. In spades.
It was brave of the presidents of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia to visit President Zelensky in his shelter. Their countries all know what it’s like to live under the USSR. I was at university when Soviet tanks rolled into Prague in 1968. It was a bit like the Chinese tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989. In both cases, the people had caught a whiff of freedom that was crushed like the first snowdrop perishes in a last flurry of winter.
But the presidents’ visit, and the protests around the world, don’t make a scintilla of difference. Most of the Russian people still believe, because they’ve been told, that this is not a war. It’s just a ‘special military operation’. Leo Tolstoy wrote a book about that; “Special Military Operation and Peace”. We can only hope that ordinary Russians will start to wonder why they can’t use Facebook and Twitter, and why all the Macdonalds stores are closed.
There’s talk of a peace settlement. I trust that does not mean that Putin gets to keep large parts of Ukraine, rewarding him for his brutality. That would merely encourage him, until he moves again. And he will unless he is stopped. He is an evil psychopath who will stop at nothing.
Please, NATO, at least enforce a no-fly zone.