Ukraine:The comparisons we most readily might make are those relating to Europe in the 1930s when Dictators in Continental Europe and in Imperial Japan literally made War and decided Peace for much of a decade and a half, untrammelled by International Institutions not least the League of Nations and the norms of international law. A free world freely stood by powerless and too scared by the Great War to contemplate yet another military confrontation. In my own experience I can only think of 1968 and Czechoslovakia. It too was a fast-moving invasion by Warsaw Pact members of one of their member states in order to maintain Soviet hegemony. Hungary a decade earlier I was too young to recall. There are also echoes of Syria from recent times. In all of these military encounters Russia has emerged a victor of sorts. Global Russia the behemoth whose lands and interest span Europe and Asia has historically viewed all those neighbours bordering on her as satellites to be managed. Only once – not a little ironically given recent events – in Afghanistan did its quasi-Imperial ambitions become unstuck. It should hardly come as a surprise to the Western powers that President Putin – a child of the KGB – should share that world view. It should hardly come as a surprise that a man tutored in the corruption of Soviet state should have made one in its image and likeness. In this latest Russian military adventure, the West offers warm words but stands at a safe distance. NATO who entered Kosovo will not enter Ukraine. The UN will be silent because Russia will veto, and China will offer Putin muted support. And ultimately those who control Russia will take from this the same lesson that Stalin and Hitler and Imperial Japan took from Western appeasement – we have the will to make a ruckus but not the stomach for a fight. Kyiv will probably fall today and one way or another the government on Ukraine will topple and Ukraine will end up with a puppet government who will first surrender to Russia and then probably ask for Ukraine to be annexed to Russia alike Crimea. Ultimately the West has reached a point where a line must be drawn in the sand. It should frankly have been drawn in Ukraine to whom we should at least have offered a no-fly zone for safety around Odessa, Lviv and Kyiv. Our collective failure of nerve comes in part from the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Ukraine was neither of these, and it has an army that would fight and is fighting and could do more if it did not have an arm tied behind its back. It is now probably too late to do more. Putin had made a veiled threat to use nuclear force if we dare to intervene. Bluff or not, this threat must not stand. Ultimately Peace has always been a prize worth the fight. Freedom, liberty and democracy can only stand if they’re worth fighting for; tyrants will always rise to threaten the nations who embrace them and test our will generation to generation. There is no life without value but life without values is worthless. This century as in the last, there will be no easy choices. We cannot choose the ground where we will fight. But be assured, a fight is coming, and we must be ready. Ultimately, even if we think Putin is crazy, we still cannot let him dictate terms because he holds nuclear weapons. And he has to know in this we are as serious in determination as he has been in this. Finally, Russia must not be permitted to retain these spoils of war. And ultimately, to ensure that we will need more than sanctions and warm words.

6Glenn Richardson, John Dalton and 4 others1 comment

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