Opinion

The West is not blameless in this Ukraine crisis

One cannot escape the conclusion that, in this horrific set of circumstances overtaking the world in the Ukraine, what is lacking is a real sense of how this can be resolved.

Putin is now talking about the nuclear option as Ukraine has expressed the hope that it can hold talks with Russia at its border with Belarus.

The one person who has gained the respect of the world is the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

When US officials reportedly offered to help evacuate Zelensky, he told them he needed ammunition, “not a ride.”

In the West, where, quite frankly, we are being run by bumblers like Biden and we have others who run away from leadership where a couple of critical comments on Twitter can cause modern leadership to run for cover, Zelensky has reminded us what political leadership looks like.

Remember that Putin argued that Ukraine was a hot bed of fascism, to which Zelensky replied to his people, “You are being told we are Nazis. But how can a nation be called Nazi after sacrificing more than 8 million lives to eradicate Nazi-ism?”

Few would know the Ukrainian word, “Holodomor”, meaning “death by hunger”.

But in 1933, a decade before the Nazis began to deliberately murder some 6 million European Jews, Stalin’s Soviet regime starved to death, deliberately, 4 million men, women and children in the Ukraine.

As the historian, Nigel Jones, wrote for The Spectator, “Joseph Stalin and his henchmen in The Kremlin had visited a biblical catastrophe on the vast country that, with its deep black fertile soil, had once been the world’s bread basket….

Stalin bore a personal grudge against Ukraine for having dared to declare itself an independent state in 1918 during the chaos and Civil War that followed the Bolshevik takeover.

He was indifferent to the plight of its people and even gloried in their suffering… and denounced reports of the famine as fiction…. The tragedy of the Holodomor may have been swallowed up by the still greater tragedy of the Second World War and its aftermath and forgotten by the rest of the world. But Ukraine did not forget.

Repeatedly, in the decades that followed Stalin’s death, Ukrainian patriots and dissidents struggled to reassert their independence and break free from the suffocating embrace of Mother Russia. Finally, as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, they succeeded.

Now, as Russia’s bombs and missiles rain down on the country, and Russian tanks roll across its border, Ukrainians are steeling themselves for what may yet be more years of darkness and oppression at the hands of Stalin’s latter-day disciple.”

How has this all come to pass? Could a lesson be learnt from the left-wing British MP Diane Abbott?

Abbott is right that NATO’s expansion has contributed to the current Ukrainian crisis.

Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has been encroaching eastwards.

As Diane Abbott has argued, in the late 1990s, NATO won over Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. In 2004, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined in. Croatia and Albania followed in 2009.

And then NATO hinted that Georgia and Ukraine, close entities to Russia, would become members at some point.

As Brendan O’Neill has splendidly argued, “You don’t have to be a Putin fan boy to understand why Russia might feel… possibly threatened by the march of NATO into eastern European territories and right up to Russia’s border.”

We need to take off our blinkers.

Is it okay for NATO, a military alliance, to spread further eastward, but a crime against humanity for Russia to respond by assembling troops on its own borders?

Let’s face it, the West has a pretty unattractive record in its attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya.

The West is not blameless in this Ukraine crisis.

Can the West offer some solutions which surely would include a guarantee of the neutrality of Ukraine and a guarantee that it will not join NATO?

Putin is now challenging the West‘s role in the world order and we are found wanting.

While we have weakened our body politic, with talk about climate change and gender equity, Putin and the Chinese leader, Xi, have built their military capacity.

Nothing could be more relevant to the weakness, the folly and the wokeness of the West than a comment I heard at the weekend, which went something like this, “Obama bombs Iraq. Biden bombs Syria. Obama is given the Nobel Peace Prize; Biden is given a Medal of Honour. Trump makes peace with Russia. Trump makes peace with North Korea. Trump makes peace with Israel. Under Trump, the economy rises. Trump maintains world peace. The first President not to send troops into battle. In response, they gave Trump two impeachments.”

Nowhere is the weakness of the West more in evidence; and now we see that same weakness as the forerunner to a crisis in Ukraine which could envelop the whole world.

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