War has come to Europe. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, acting as the tyrant and dictator he is, has sent the Red Army in to invade Ukraine. We are seeing the death toll mount, attacks on civilians increase and a catastrophe unfurl.
Few expected that Putin would take the action he has or that any action would be on the scale that this invasion is on. He did not expect the fierce resistance his poorly trained conscript army is facing nor that it would be so bogged down by incompetent leadership.
The anticipated open arms of welcome never materialised because, given a choice, who would choose the losing side of the Cold War in that clash of ideologies? Capitalism, despite its problems, was always superior to the values represented by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Ukraine was becoming an increasingly open and prosperous democracy whilst the remnants of the USSR, what President Reagan called an “evil empire”, is mired in corruption and incompetence.
The response to this act of war from the West, has considering how few days it has been waged, been fast and robust. Initially and before the conflict started, Britain had been sending potent defensive weapons to the Ukrainian military that had to travel around German airspace because of Germany’s excessive pacifist tendencies. What better way to signify a weak Western position to Putin the warmonger? It signalled that there would be a minimal backlash from a divided West.
The new German Chancellor, dispelling the legacy of his predecessor, has now reversed that position and, having previously only committed to sending 5,000 hard hats to support the Ukrainian’s defence, is now sending over some serious defensive military hardware. History matters and I understand Germany’s reticence over significant actions in this conflict, but it has often seemed like an easy excuse to do nothing.
Germany, along with Britain and the US, is now leading an increasingly united Western response to the Russian aggressors. Switzerland has even applied sanctions on Russia and there is an almost complete blockade of Russian airspace from Cyprus to Finland.
If Western countries had been a little more robust with the Russian dictator and his coterie of oligarchs in recent years, would we now have to be acting in haste once war has commenced? No, probably not. President Putin has all the characteristics of a bully and because we never stood up to him, he thinks he can keep getting way with his crimes.
The invasion and occupation of South Ossetia and Abkasia in 2008 and the 2014 occupation of Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine should have been sufficient warning.
World leaders have heard the warning that weakness is an open invitation to criminals, but voters must hear and understand the message as well.
Having a strong military, economic and diplomatic presence is expensive, and it is also the best way to secure peace.
Are we willing to pay the price of peace and have a legitimate ‘stop the war coalition’?
This article was originally published in the Wigan Observer on Friday, 4th March 2022: https://www.wigantoday.net/news/politics/chris-green-mp-united-response…