By Mail on Sunday Comment. 19 Feb 2023
Next Friday, it will be a year since Europe once again became a war zone, after a long period of peace which most of us thought would last for ever.
Abhorrently, a major power, a member of the UN Security Council with diplomatic relations with most civilised countries, ordered its troops and tanks to cross the border of a smaller, weaker neighbour.
It launched missile attacks on its neighbour’s cities and sent armoured columns deep into its territory. Vladimir Putin, until then a worrying despot, from that moment earned his place among the infamous world leaders of this or any age.
As our then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, astutely said at the time: ‘We will not allow Putin to drag our continent back into a Hobbesian state of nature, where aggression pays and might is right.’
The world held its breath as the missiles crashed into Kyiv, and was soon afterwards amazed and pleased to see that Ukraine, the victim, had stood up with immense courage and determination to this storm of lawless violence from Russia.
President Volodymyr Zelensky, by his calm bearing and personal courage, became a symbol of a new spirit in Europe, a spirit of righteous resistance to barbaric, lawless and criminal bullying.
Since then, many countries, including the United Kingdom, have been drawn into an unprecedented condition. We are the strong allies of a country at war, without being at war ourselves.
We have decided that we cannot possibly countenance the defeat of Ukraine, and that we must assist her in every way short of war against Russia. Inevitably, this has not been without problems. For Ukraine wants a great deal more than we can give.
In the long period of optimism which followed the end of the Cold War 30 years ago, we greatly reduced our own defences.
Our armed services are smaller, our stocks of equipment and ammunition are depleted. And we have grown used to spending money once devoted to defence on projects which most people find at least equally valuable, such as health, education, social care, transport and the environment.
But from now on, and for years to come, that luxury is no longer available to us. Of course we value such things, but we have been reminded, in good time, that the most fundamental duty of any state is the security of its territory against hostile attack.
We must continue to fulfil our obligations to Ukraine, whose defeat would be a disgrace and an eternal ignominy if we let it happen, and a serious blow to our own security.
Such a defeat would feed the ambitions of the aggressor in the Kremlin. As Prime Minister Rishi Sunak writes in The Mail on Sunday today: ‘We must redouble our efforts, accelerate our lethal aid and bolster our support to help Ukraine secure a lasting peace.’
We most also reinforce our obligations to the Nato alliance that protects most of the rest of Europe from a similar fate. And in doing so we must repair and strengthen Armed Forces which have grown too weak. It will cost us wealth and effort, but we have no choice.
“we have grown used to spending money once devoted to defence on projects which most people find at least equally valuable, such as health, education, social care, transport and the environment. ”
It’s really true. War is such a total and utter waste.
Still, more needs to be done to stop Russia’s wave of crimes against humanity and crush their advance. Freedom undefended will not be freedom for long.
If we don’t unite against genocide, that means it’s allowed. How can we do that?