Sunday, February 27, 2022

Ukraine 01

There was a brief window of hope, perhaps only real in some parallel universe, when war might have been avoided. If the west had recognised the People's Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states, Putin may have been content. Ukraine might have split between east and west and lived as neighbours happily ever after. But the moment the first shot was fired that hope evaporated.

We are where we are and there are no winners. Putin may have calculated that Volodymyr Zelenskyy would flee and a new regime, amenable to his requirements, could be swiftly installed, the hit to some oligarchs inconvenienced by token sanctions, factored into the gains that close association with one of the most resource rich countries on the planet brings.

Forecasts, especially about the future, usually turn out to be wrong, but from this moment it looks as though Putin has succeeded in uniting much of the Ukrainian population against him and any idea of ever having closer links to Russia in preference to Western Europe is for the birds. And Ukrianians appear willing to fight for every inch of their ground.

As a pacifist and totally unwilling to ever pick up a gun myself and point it in the direction of another human being, I'm not going to start advocating that anybody else should. But what I am more than willing to do is suffer the economic consequences, and I don't belittle them, of a complete trade embargo of Putin's Russia. 

Currently the West sends some $300,000,000 every day to Russia in payment for oil, gas, minerals and other products. That trade should be stopped. Now. Europe would have to go on to something akin to a war-footing, but without the killing. There might need to be rationing of energy (allowing the price to go through the roof just forces misery on the poor while the rich carry on). As in war, industrial production needs to be switched, not to armaments, but to everything that reduces our dependency on Russian energy, from home insulation to alternative power production. The fighting may be restricted to Ukraine but the whole world should share the work and pain involved in defeating Putin.

The aim must be to swiftly demonstrate that Russia will be an isolated pariah, cut off from the rest of the world. Putin is not immortal and at some point the Russian population will find the strength to remove him. Our hope is that he sees this inevitability long before Kyiv is reduced to the rubble we have seen in Homs and Aleppo in Syria.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy does not use the same dressing up box as Boris Johnson, who favours the hi-viz look.


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