ByLetters to the Editor. 27 April 2022 •
Including a remarkable and surprising letter from Nikolai Tolstoy.
SIR – Comments by Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, and Lloyd Austin, the US Defence Secretary, on their visit to Ukraine this week suggested that Russia was losing the war and that America wanted to see the Russian military weakened.
This perhaps shows the naivety of America. Ukrainians are performing brilliantly against overwhelming Russian brutality intent on destroying their nation. But Ukraine is not “winning” the war.
The Russians have shown that they cannot be trusted in anything they say, and Ukrainian fighters can never be sure of their fate if they surrender to Russian forces.
The decision to open our embassy in Kyiv shows great support. But while there is a reluctance to put a Nato or UN peacekeeping force on the ground, it is hard to see how this barbaric attack on the brave people of Ukraine can be brought to an end. Of course there is the threat that Vladimir Putin will use his nuclear weaponry. He is also aware that the West has nuclear capability. This threat will remain into the future unless we can get back to a degree of understanding and respect fostered by presidents Gorbachev and Reagan during the late 1980s.
The Russians need to be assured that the West has no intention of taking over any part of their country. The West cannot continue to be bullied by the untrustworthy Kremlin.
SIR – Major General Rustam Minnekaev let the cat out of the bag by confirming that the Russian objective would be to establish full control over the Donbas and southern Ukraine, creating a land corridor to Crimea and west to Transnistria, the Moscow-supporting province of Moldova.
The West now has no excuse; we have been warned. If Russia succeeds in securing this objective (admittedly not assured given the heroic resistance of the Ukrainians), that would reduce Ukraine to a land-locked rump, with reduced economic viability. Who believes an emboldened Vladimir Putin would stop there? And how many other despotic regimes would take heart from the West’s weakness?
Our Prime Minister has commendably led the way in the supply of weapons to Ukraine, but, as Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the Defence Select Committee, has said, we need to do much more. A coalition of the willing needs to join forces to thwart the general’s declared mission.
Such a move would be no more provocative than the supply of weapons killing Russian troops.
Sir Gerald Howarth
SIR – German slowness in sending effective support to Ukraine should be no surprise. Again and again, since the Bolshevik putsch in 1917, Germany provided vital aid to the bloodstained Soviet regime, and vice versa. In March 1918 the two powers carved up Ukraine at the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
In 1922 the two pariah states signed the Treaty of Rapallo, enabling Germany to evade the Versailles Treaty. After that, the Soviets secretly provided Germany with training grounds for her troops on Soviet soil, and supplied vast quantities of military hardware and munitions.
Junkers set up an aeroplane factory near Moscow, a tank school was built near Kazan, a poison-gas school near Saratov and a flying school at Lipetsk.
The aim of the two powers was the destruction of Poland. The pinnacle of warm relations between Germans and Soviets was achieved in August 1939, when Molotov and Ribbentrop signed the infamous pact between the two dictatorships. It enabled the extinction of Polish independence and occupation of Eastern Europe by the Third Reich and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Germany has long abandoned dreams of conquest in Europe, but successive German governments have displayed continuing affection for their Russian counterparts.