The Ukrainian army and the Ukrainian people are offering fierce resistance to the Russian invasion. The Russians have not taken Kyiv and are suffering casualties as they try to make advances but does this mean that they may resort to ever more desperate measures to meet the goals that Vladimir Putin has set them? That’s the worry. Putin has even started talking about using nuclear weapons. This only goes to show how unhinged he has become. It’s heartwarming how determined the Ukrainians are to defend their country and freedoms. President Zelensky could not be more impressive if he tried. I am in awe of him. His video on the streets of Ukraine, along with his senior ministers, was a brilliant way of countering Russian propaganda which was trying to tell the Ukrainians that he had fled the country. He’s made of stronger stuff.
So there I was. Watching the News at Ten last night and I realised tears were streaming down my face. Now OK, we all know that I don’t need much of an excuse to get a bit emotional, but I don’t think I am along in feeling like this. So many people, the world over, have discovered an emotional link to Ukraine they never knew they had. But in war situations we can’t let our hearts rule our heads, can we? We have to look at what’s happening in a cool, rational way and ask what more the west can do, short of all out war with Russia, to help these brave people in Ukraine. It’s great that Britain has brought together 28 countries together to offer aid and weapons to Ukraine, with significant commitments. But what more should or can Britain do to make a real difference?
I said earlier on in the week that if we are going to impose sanctions on Russia, we need to throw the kitchen sink at them. No sanction should be left unturned. So far the list of sanctions is unprecedentedly long. But it’s not long enough. Hit the Oligarchs where it hurts. Ban their children from our public schools and universities. And sequestrate their assets. However, we should be careful of tarring all Russians with the same brush. There are lots of wonderful Russians who have become British citizens over the years, who loathe and despite Putin just as much as the rest of us do. So I understand why the government has to be a little slower than we might like in identifying all these people. It’s all very well for Layla Moran and Chris Bryant to read out lists of people in the House of Commons. Some on those list are very respectable citizens and do not deserve to have their assets seized or to be deported.
One other thing we should do it expel the Russian ambassador to the UK and most of his embassy staff, a good proportion of whom are spies anyway. When I interview Liz Truss on my radio show on Sunday morning I’ll be putting that to her.
I have been very critical of the Prime Minister in recent weeks, but I have to say, I think the way he has reacted to this crisis has been exemplary. Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary has become the most impressive minister in the Cabinet, and I was also impressed by Liz Truss inviting in the Russian Ambassador for an interview without coffee. She chucked him out after only a few minutes, presumably having told him: You. Are. A. Disgrace.
Who knows what the next week will bring? All we can do, as individual citizens, is to express our complete solidarity with our friends in Ukraine. Slava Ukraini!