Report: Friday’s Spectator debate between Svitlana Moronets and Peter Hitchens

Fraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson

Is now the time to make peace in Ukraine?

  • 4 November 2022, 8:22pm

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, British press and public opinion has been firmly behind Volodymyr Zelensky. But is it healthy to look at any subject so uncritically? If a year or more of fighting will achieve nothing, then why prolong the bloodshed? The How To Academy has just held a debate about this delicate subject in London. The motion was ‘Now is the Time To Make Peace in Ukraine’. I went along, with some of the Spectator team. Our colleague Svitlana Morenets, who writes our weekly Ukraine email (sign up here), was speaking against the motion. It was a fascinating debate.

Peter Hitchens, opening for the motion, said that the British press was very good at whipping up fervour for war but not so good at campaigning for peace. His main quarrel, he said, is with countries who are ‘using Ukraine as a battering ram for reasons of their own’. Responsible citizens in our country, he said, ‘should question this a lot more than we do’. Mary Dejevsky, also supporting the motion, said that some British politicians are now speaking for Ukraine’s interests a bit better than they do British national interests. Ukraine, she said, had made things tougher for itself by bombing the Crimea bridge: it was warned not to by its allies, she said, and now Russia is taking our Ukrainian power plants in retaliation. Things are getting out of control. British support for Ukraine, Dejevsky said, is already starting to wane and Ukraine’s ‘blitz spirit’ may not last.

Morenets spoke about that spirit, saying that she spoke to her mum recently. ‘She and my brother had spent two days without electricity, phone signal or water. But my mum said to me: “I’m ready to spend all winter like this – I just want them to leave our country”’. Some 90 per cent of the Ukrainian public would say the same, she said. The plan is not for years of battle, but the military defeat of Russia. Putin’s latest display of weakness, she said, came this week when he threatened not to recognise the ‘grain corridor’ that currently allows Ukraine to export grain (we spoke about that today here). He threatened to pull out of it, but had to crawl back when it was clear that Turkey and the US would carry on without Russia. In the end, he had to ask Ukraine to guarantee that we would not shell the grain corridor. Can you imagine him asking us for that nine months ago? 

Of course Ukraine wants peace, says Morenets – she has known nothing but war for most of her life. At school, she and her classmates knitted nets to disguise tanks; growing up, she attended the funeral of everyone killed in the war. Her seven-year-old brother spent today in a bunker, not in class. But this war has been going on for seven years with 45,000 dead before 22 February – killed a war barely recognised by the West. Time after time, she said, Ukraine accepted Putin’s peace offering – and found that, every time, he came back stronger for war building up to full invasion.

The panel also spoke about Russian public opinion. Hitchens said that ‘it’s partly our fault’ as we so badly mishandled the collapse of communism and ‘backed the wrong people’. ‘Russia’s threat to the West is a bogeyman,’ said Hitchens: its army is a mess and now stands exposed as such. ‘Russia’s status as a threat has now been hugely weakened for the world to see. So in a peace negotiation, Russia would have to give quite major things’. One of the problems, he said, is that in Ukraine ‘virulent nationalism has been predominant, rather than the civic nationalism that you find in Scotland.’ It’s easier to be a non-Scot in Scotland, he said, than an ethnic Russian in Ukraine. ‘Half the difficulty’, he said, is the ugly strain of Ukrainian nationalism that made life difficult for ethnic Russians in Ukraine. 

In the end, a show of hands showed the motion defeated by a margin of two-to-one. I took a ropey video of Svitlana’s opening statement and will post it later.

Fraser Nelson
WRITTEN BY

Fraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is editor of The Spectator

6 comments

  1. Peter Hitchens should not even be free to promote his views; which deny Ukraine’s right to exist. Instead, he should be in a rat-infested dungeon with Tucker “I’m rooting for Russia” Carlson, Candace “Russian lives matter” Owens, Donald “This is genius. Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine — of Ukraine — Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful,” Trump and many, many others.
    Marjorie Taylor-Greene: “Ukraine cannot win. Russia is being very successful in their invasion.”
    Taylor-Greene on Nov 3: “Not another penny of aid is going to Ukraine if Republicans take control of both houses of Congress.”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Taylor Greene is a fuckin nut job and was relieved of several committe assignments because of her bullshit. She doesn’t speak for the Republican Party and in my opinion she’s an embarrassment to not only republicans but the USA. Please don’t give her any coverage.

      Liked by 3 people

      • You can’t just ignore a public figure because you think they are nuts. She is far more likely to be evil than mad.
        She doesn’t speak for the Republican Party but she does speak for and is a key member of the Trump wing of the party, whose informal membership take their policy positions from Trump, who was strongly opposed to the $42bn aid package.
        We will see how significant or insignificant the Trump wing is when the results of the mid-terms are known.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Peter Hitchens is so wrong on so many things about Ukraine, mafia land, and the war that it’s hard to figure out where to begin proving his claims to be untrue. Is he erroneous on purpose, or does he get paid by Moscow to spread their narrative? It surprises me that a major British newspaper waters down its reputation by letting him give false testimony, and this regularly. A news provider’s reputation is supposed to be everything! Hitchens is the very same type of prick who would’ve allowed Adolf Hitler to keep Poland, which the dictator shared with another evil creature, Josef Stalin. Peter Hitchens sees nothing wrong with letting a freedom loving people get enslaved for the sake of a FAKE peace. This guy is a traitor to his own nation’s effort to stand up to a criminal, savagely aggressive, fascist entity. In my opinion, his heart breaks when seeing the decimation of the criminal cockroach army. Hitchens is a lying, evil promulgating, dangerous parasite in the flesh of democracy.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Seconded.
      X 10.
      Hitchens 2010 Crimea article; still available online, was the template for all kremkrapper arguments ever since.
      He is also a liar. He claimed that he can’t be a shill “because Peskov refuses to give me an interview.”
      I proved this to be bollocks because I asked a girl I knew at the time who worked for Reuters to ring Pisscough’s office and ask if he would take a call from Gospodin Hitchens. They said he would. I reported this on Hitchens blog and was modded out.
      Nowadays, I am allowed to comment on the Mail, but am blocked from Hitchens blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Theer will be no substantive talks until Putin decides to end the war. He will fight until he can’t fight, and is expelled form Ukraine. Any truce will simply be something he uses to reconstitute his forces and then restart the war.

    Liked by 2 people

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