Europe woke up on Thursday morning to news that Russia had invaded Ukraine. British and American intelligence over the past couple of weeks was spot-on, it seems, as they had been warning of an imminent attack. This impassioned plea from the Ukrainian UN ambassador to the Russian ambassador less than an hour after the assault began is chilling. The Russian ambassador’s response is to say it’s not a war but a “special operation”. This is what a euphemism is, kids: “special operation”.
In the weeks leading up to the invasion Russia was apparently responding to Ukraine’s ambition to join NATO, an alliance of nations where if one signatory is attacked the others will come to its defence. In simple terms it went down like this:
Ukraine: we want to join NATO
Russia: if you join NATO we will attack
Ukraine: ok, we won’t join NATO
Russia attacks Ukraine anyway. Ukraine should have joined NATO.
The rest of the world has responded with sanctions against Russia but it’s hard to see how freezing assets of rich Russians will make much difference. The UK would like to go further and ban Russia from using the international payments system known as Swift but media reports say the UK is facing resistance from other European countries, notably Italy and Germany, who are worried about Russian gas imports. I’m a big fan of ripping the bandaid off and agree with the UK position. Ban Russia from Swift. It sounds like that’s what’s needed for Europe to wean itself off Russian gas.
If there’s any good news it’s that Ukraine is fighting back and it appears Russia is making slower progress than they had hoped. The Ukrainian leader is standing firm and civilians are taking up weapons to fight. What a contrast to Afghanistan this is where the people simply capitulated to the Taliban and their leader abandoned the sinking ship. I don’t know why the response was so different but perhaps you have to sincerely desire freedom in order to fight for it.
I have nothing but admiration for the people of Ukraine who have come together to resist the Russian invasion. This video of a Ukrainian woman confronting a Russian soldier is amazing:
I’ve seen unconfirmed reports on Twitter – so take this with a grain of salt – that some Russian soldiers are handing their tanks over to Ukrainians. Good on them if that’s the case!
Like everyone else in Europe, I hope this war is over soon. No one wants it, not even Russian civilians. I think it could potentially backfire on Putin. Let’s hope so.