The west has a choice: abandon Ukraine or punish Russia? It should choose the latter.

18 March 2014

An astonishing number of useless twits appear to think Russia’s annexation of the Crimea is somehow not Vladimir Putin’s fault. The poor Russia despot – no longer much too strong a term, by the way – is not responsible for his actions. He was provoked!

Not simply by the Ukrainians, who should, it is implied, have known better, but by the west. It’s our fault and Putin is simply acting logically and rationally. He has every right to reassert Russia’s ancient prerogatives and if we hadn’t penned him into a corner he wouldn’t have needed to at all.

Twaddle of course but the kind of stuff that’s not hard to find. Plenty of people – by no means confined to those you would not expect to know better – appear to be swallowing this nonsense. This is not a matter of right or left since you can find MPs from all quarters prepared to give Putin’s absurd “referendum” some credence. Meanwhile, the anti-EU monomaniacs are happy to blame the crisis on Brussels and quietly – or not so quietly in fact – are thrilled to see someone tell the EU where to shove its (supposed) expansionary dreams.  If that means cheering on Putin then so be it. Any ally in a storm.

Another theory asks us to believe Putin’s invasion and annexation of the Crimea was forced upon him by the west’s expansion into Russia’s sphere of influence. We should never have offered Ukraine any kind of guarantee. We should not have extended Kiev any kind of friendly hand. We certainly should not have allowed former members of the Warsaw Pact the opportunity to join NATO. By doing so we provoked Russia. What else would we expect? It’s all our fault.

Of course Russia has no security concern in the Crimea. It was not threatened, nor were the rights or safety of ethnic Russians on the peninsula. Russia’s access to its military bases in the Crimea was confirmed by treaty. Russia was not threatened by encirclement or anything of the sort.

But even if it were that would still not remotely justify Russia’s actions. The Crimea, as I’ve suggested before, is not the prize. The prize is Ukraine itself. Putin has made it quite clear he does not consider Ukraine a proper country. It is really part of Russia. Always has been. Always will be. A possession that got away, not an independent state in its own right.

So far Putin has not won Ukraine. Indeed it seems likely that he is awakening a renewed sense of Ukrainian patriotism. Including, in many instances, amongst Russian-speaking Ukrainians who have shown precious little interest in being reunited with Mother Russia. By “reunited”, of course, I mean, “imprisoned”.

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Putin’s actions in Russia should have been enough to warn the west that dealings with Moscow be conducted through gritted teeth. A man whose allies were (almost certainly) happy to bomb his own capital just to smooth his route to power is not, and never was, a man to be trusted or granted the benefit of the doubt.

In fact the international community has been extremely generous to Putin. We “understood” his concerns in the Caucasus and turned a blind eye to his war crimes in Chechnya. That really was a strange and foreign land in a far away place about which we knew little and cared less. But we understood Russia’s determination to protect its own territorial integrity. Besides, we couldn’t really stop him even if we had wanted to. Not that Chechnya was worth anything to us. So we have spent many years understanding Russia’s position.

But Ukraine is not Chechnya. It is part of europe. So much so, in fact, that for a long time a large part of Ukraine was ruled from Vienna. Each day that passes is another day in which Putin is denied his prize but it is also the case that a feeble western reaction to Russia’s aggression might be worse than no response at all. Deploying a miniature stick is worse than deploying no stick at all and, instead, keeping it in reserve for future use.

Dismembering and destroying Ukraine is Russia’s goal. Anything short of that constitutes defeat for Moscow. Denying Putin that prize must now be the west’s mission. If that means taking a financial hit, so be it.

Otherwise what use are our security guarantees? Putin, remember, is acting off the cuff here. This is not some masterly piece of deep and cunning Russian strategy. On the contrary, it is a piece of improvisation. That means Putin’s momentum can be stalled and his advance on Kiev thwarted.

But only by stiffer, sterner action than we have seen heretofore.

Indeed, Putin’s behaviour demonstrates that, if anything, the problem with NATO expansion is that perhaps it did not go far enough. What price the independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania if they were not now members of the western alliance? Even now their liberty is not guaranteed. It is not hard to see how Russian agitators could spark a contrived crisis in the Baltic states; not hard either to see how Putin might attack them again.

But NATO and the EU offer the Balts some protection. Thankfully. They have endured enough – as has the Ukraine, of course – at Russian hands in the past.

Nor, since we’re on the subject, is Putin’s behaviour George W Bush’s fault. The invasion of Iraq was, obviously, controversial. It neither set a precedent for nor justified Russia’s recent behaviour. In the first place, everyone – even Russia – agreed that Iraq was in material breach of UN Security Council resolutions; secondly the US and its allies were hardly in the business of annexing Iraq for themselves.

But even if they had been and even if Bush’s war set a rotten precedent that would not justify Putin’s actions either. Unless you do think one wrong must be matched with or by another. So, no, this isn’t Bush’s fault. It’s not Tony Blair’s fault either.

A few weeks ago the idea that Ukraine might join NATO would have seemed fanciful. It no longer does. The west has a choice now: abandon Ukraine or not. And if we do will our treaty obligations to the Baltic states mean anything or will we abandon them too?

A test, then, of western resolve but also, of our word and even, if you like, some kind of honour. Time may not be on Putin’s side but western cravenness can still allowed Putin to salvage something from his reckless blundering.

In other words, talking about the need to “de-escalate” matters might do more damage than escalating them and making it clear that Russia’s actions will have consequences.

We – that is, the west – are not responsible for Putin’s behaviour. But we are responsible for our response to his provocations.

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Show comments
  • Eric Henlon

    If Russia feel the western are pushing Russia in a corner,then why not join the union since you are all european ,then no one will be left in the corner.

  • revkevblue

    Our politicians are pushing Putin into the open arms of China. Have they any conception, in their tiny little minds, what kind of a war machine that will create?

    • gehazi

      none at all, it will create slavs subservient to the Han. USD still runs the show and russia and china only increase exposure, too much money to be made for war.

  • Renat Perl

    Don’t fool yourself. Russia (not USSR) is empire of evil. It is spreading like cancer again. It bought western politicians, journalists, businessmen with western money and it will not stop until it meets will and power.
    Russia firmly desided anschluss Ukraine years ago and did all to realise this plan. When Ukraine perishes it is only a matter of very short time you will see new Russian empire in USSR or even Tsar borders.
    You say it is nonsence? But who would imagine just a few month ago that Russia might start war against Ukraine?

  • kle4

    I also find the NATO expansionist provocation idea not to have much weight. For obvious reasons this does upset Russia, it would upset us if the reverse was happening, not that Ukraine was close to doing so, but if Ukraine as a whole went down that path it has the right to do so even if it upsets Russia. Past interests in the region do not mean no-one else can become involved in the matter. So some ‘solutions’ to the crisis which include that Ukraine should never join NATO strike me as a bit odd. That would help deescalate tensions a bit if Ukraine promised to do so I suppose, but it is their sovereign right if they wanted to go down that path, even if it caused tensions.

    Maybe Russia should make itself seem more attractive an option in these battles between it and the West. Yanukovich apparently didn’t want to be forced to pick a side, but we all made him do it, and unfortunately the country is pretty split on it and so no resolution can please both. That doesn’t mean direct force (I said force, not violence, calm down) is justified in being applied.

  • kle4

    It is a complex situation, and that is what I find frustrating about all this, the lack of acceptance that it is complex. In that while we and our allies are only involved because we seek to improve our own interests, and this is condemned by some, those same seem to buy hook line and sinker Russia’s arguments as though they are not equally self serving and looking out for their own interests. I respect the view that the West meddled and is hardly blameless in all this mess, but why that means that everything happening from Russia is above board, when despite Crimea obviously supporting annexation there are ample wider issues which mean its justifications and actions are far from squeaky clean with any amount of scrutiny (treaty obligations, lack of outright threat despite the coup to justify direct action), I do not know.

    Just because we are acting in our nation’s selfish interest does not mean other nations acting in their selfish interest ok. It does not mean we must be in the wrong and they in the right. It means we are on level playing field, morally, and then you assess the reasonableness of the action. For many that might mean Russia is perfectly right to act as it has, but I find it absurd that anything we do is condemned as unacceptable interference, while anything others do is assumed to be ok because it is in oppsoition to our selfish interest.

    All nations are good at that game, interpreting international law (which is a joke) as they please so that any action they take is apparently in accordance with it if they say so. Russia is particularly good, decrying any interference in other nations, even as they interference themselves (example, helping Syrian rebels may be right or wrong – at present it looks like to do so would be unhelpful in the least – but Russia decries interference from others while helping to prop up the regime. Some will say that action is wrong, some will think it ok given the power games at play, but it is at the least at odds with purported lack of interference in that it is picking a side and affecting the outome).

  • FrankieThompson

    “But Ukraine is not Chechnya. It is part of Europe. So much so, in fact, that for a long time a large part of Ukraine was ruled from Vienna. ”

    Rather important implications in what you say there Alex.

    But what do you make of 40% of continental Europe being in the Russian Federation? Does that make a difference to your thought process?

    And what about the legitimacy of the current Kiev regime? From where does that derive? Whatever anyone thinks of the Ukrainian government as was, the fact it was elected in fair and free elections is a given. If a change of policy can legitimise what is an effective armed takeover, then you can say many things about it, but democratic and constitutional are not two of them.

  • Giles

    As a Swede reading Swedish/English/European/American news sites I’m so tired of seeing comments from people defending Russias agression with ‘well the United States is worse!’ or ‘Poor Putin is just misunderstood, it’s all the bloody EU’s fault for supporting Ukrainian neo-nazis!’ etc. Really? Would any of you really want to change the Western system that I assume the majority of you live in for the dictatorship rule that a country like Russia offers?. Democracy isn’t perfect but it’s the best thing available, I truly believe that. All of you who are so apologetic about Russias agressive ambitions, why don’t you just move over there? Just be prepared to be kidnapped and beaten up if you’re gay, get hated on if you’re a foreigner and don’t expect a change of political leadership in your lifetime no matter what or who you vote for.

    • Baron

      Are you sure you were facing in the right direction when you penned this rant, Giles?

    • gehazi

      most, if not all of the ones who support putin, are actually just st petersberg internerds doing the good work of mass propaganda.

  • Peter Stroud

    A poorly thought out, and poorly written article. The Crimean referendum was not Putin’s: though no doubt he supported it. It was supported by the Crimean regional government, and encouraged by the Russian speaking majority. The aim is to return the region to where it was pre 1954.

    As to punishing Russia: how? Too many EU states rely on Russian imports of energy. War, thank God, is out of the question due to European disarmament. Personal sanctions on Putin’s super rich cronies, may have some effect. But it is hard to really hurt billionaires.

    • gehazi

      unless you kill them.

  • Ali Amer

    Well said.

    1. Why to provoke putin in the first place.?

    2. Why the double standard in recognizing an independent country when they are separated from their mother land?. For example, Kosovo, South Sudan has been granted their will while Crimea is not.

    3. If ukraine was allowed to separate from Russia, then Crimea should also be allowed.

    4. crimea was part of Russia in the first place. It has been included with Ukraine 1954.

    5. This logic can be applied to Taiwan also. China has the right to annex Taiwan. Because Taiwan is an occupation by the west.

    6. If you dismiss all the above logic, then USA and EU should also be disintegrated.

    7. Amazingly, Western society is working hard to unite the Euro Zone while they are trying to disintegrate Russia’s unity.

    8. I suggest Putin should use their own strategy in order to disintegrate them.

    My view is based on a true logical analysis of natural human feelings. But who knows why the Western and Russia are fighting. There may be something we don’t know. May be the west has good reason for fighting Russia or Russia has good reason for fighting back the west. Since, Country rulers never say the truth about why they are fighting, it is better not to take any side.

  • Two Bob

    At least TIME magazine had faith in Putin:

    ‘When this intense and brooding KGB agent took over as President of
    Russia in 2000, he found a country on the verge of becoming a failed
    state. With dauntless persistence, a sharp vision of what Russia should
    become and a sense that he embodied the spirit of Mother Russia, Putin
    has put his country back on the map.’

    • gehazi

      are you a gay right winger or a russian agent?

  • Hegelguy

    You bray:

    “A test, then, of western resolve but also, of our word and even, if you like, some kind of honour.”

    You? Speak of HONOUR?!!!!!!

  • Hegelguy

    Go for it, Putin!!!!!!

    As long as you enrage tenth raters like Massie. I am on your side.

    • Unenlightened_Commentary


    • gehazi

      I wonder how many people were really cheering hitler on when he started? how does it feel to be the equivalent of that?

  • Hegelguy

    You say:

    “In fact the international community has been extremely generous to
    Putin. We “understood” his concerns in the Caucasus and turned a blind
    eye to his war crimes in Chechnya. That really was a strange and foreign
    land in a far away place about which we knew little and cared less. But
    we understood Russia’s determination to protect its own territorial
    integrity. Besides, we couldn’t really stop him even if we had wanted
    to. Not that Chechnya was worth anything to us. So we have spent many
    years understanding Russia’s position.

    But Ukraine is not Chechnya. It is part of europe. So much so, in
    fact, that for a long time a large part of Ukraine was ruled from

    You lost me completely by that statement of crass cynicism.

    If you can’t be bothered to care about a non-European issue, I can’t be bothered to care about ANY concern of yours. You are clearly worthless.

  • joeblow55

    And I suggest you all take a look at czar Putin’s luxurious castle he built for himself. Yanokovich’s looks like a cottage in comparison. Putin is a poisoner and a meglomaniac.

    • Wessex Man

      Much like our masters in the EU then, the unelected Commissioners who think up 70% of our laws.

      • gehazi

        thank you russian agent for pointing out that putins theft is ok because “people other than us make our laws ermehgerd”

  • joeblow55

    Biden has it right, provide military support for Ukraine to defend itself and make the Baltics into three armadillos, armored, defended to the hilt and with the ability not just to strike at the illegally occupied Kaliningrad (German east Prussia) but if attacked into the Russian Federation itself. After all Vlad, borders don’t matter anymore, do they? As to China, take the opportunity to take back chinese ancestral lands stolen by the tsars in the late 19th century, again, borders don’t matter, eh Vlad?

  • joeblow55

    I suggest Putin have a nice shot of polonium (as he has used on others) and take his final nap. Death stares out of his evil eyes.

  • Bonkim

    Ukraine is a failed state – ditch it. The rest of Ukraine should be split along pro- and anti- Russia majority population.

  • Richard N

    It’s because of these contemptible media whores like this ‘writer’ who have been wheeled out to knock out this rubbish that people in the West are increasingly realizing that Western media is now largely centrally-controlled, and cannot be believed at all in whatever it says.

    Did Russia move its military anywhere, before the US and EU backed the coup to overthrow the elected President of Ukraine, and to install their own puppet instead?

    No – they did not. Russia moved in Crimea only as after the US / EU-sponsored coup – as a response to this incredibly provocative action, right on its border, to secure its Black Sea Fleet base, and to hold a referendum which was approved by EU observers as being free and fair – where almost all the population voted to rejoin Russia.

    Yet Russia is supposed to be the ‘aggressor’ here?

    Give me a break! The aggressors were the US and EU, seeking to pull Ukraine into the EU empire – right on Russia’s border.

    That’s ‘legal’ is it – to support the overthrow of an elected leader?

    And that’s not aggressive – right on Russia’s border?

    The US and EU empire-building here – and the utter hypocrisy of them accusing Russia of ‘invading a sovereign nation’ when the US invades sovereign nations whenever one takes their fancy – together with the outright propanda (such as this ‘article’) being pumped out to try to justify their outright imperial aggression in this affair, simply serves to ‘lift the curtain’ for many people in the West – to realize not only that we are being lied to, day in and day out, in a highly-organised way by the EU and US empires – but that our media is now no longer believeable at all, and has been hijacked to become a centrally-controlled propaganda system.

    • gehazi

      everything you claim is demonstrably false, you are a russian propagandist, and if you are a citizen of the US or UK I hope you are arrested for treason.

  • Kennybhoy

    Kosovo. Nuff said….

  • littlegreyrabbit

    I am confused as to what constitutes abandoning Ukraine. Have we abandoned China if we don’t feel the immediate return of Taiwan into its embrace is a matter of urgency?
    I sometimes asked Chinese why they would want to take over a small province that seems unwilling to be part of them. Why should Ukraine or Ukrainians want to retain a province that seems to be quite united in wanting to separate from them?

    • Daniel Maris

      Because Russia is not solely interested in Crimea as Putin has made perfectly clear on several occasions. He is demanding the right to veto Ukraine’s entry into the European Union. Now that Putin has detached Crimea, he can put the frighteners on the Ukraine and the EU more effectively.

      • littlegreyrabbit

        ” He is demanding the right to veto Ukraine’s entry into the European Union.”
        How has he expressed this demand? Telepathically and solely into the cerebral cortex of Daniel Maris?

        • Daniel Maris

          Er no, as numerous journalists, this is the Russian offer to the USA and EU – a new treaty which will provide that Ukraine cannot join the EU or NATO.

          • littlegreyrabbit

            This one I have missed.
            Where can I read about this new treaty that the Russians have offered the USA and EU?

  • ClausewitzTheMunificent

    Putin’s strategic policy is not aggressive. This is where you misread the fellow. Rather, he is focusing on a slow build up of power and influence on his borders – this has been what he’s been trying to do since the early 2000’s. Sure when pushed too far, he will react (viz. Georgia 2008), but he lacks the resources and the ideological drive for a policy of conquest and he knows it – and just like every other ruler from the American President to the Maltese one his policy is determined by the means at his disposal. Thus it is unjust to once again conjure up the threat of the Russian bear – the Russian Federation is not the Soviet Union and the Cold War ended 20 years ago with the victory of NATO. What the current crisis shows, is I think that the West is no having to face the fact that its assumption that Russia would never again be in a position to defy them was completely unrealistic. And being thoroughly off-put by the idea.

    • joeblow55

      It is an attempt to restore the USSR by a Stalinist. Of course, severely declining birthrates in Russia due to alcoholism and drug abuse will finish Russia off in 20 years or so, but can we really afford to wait that long?

      • ClausewitzTheMunificent

        What, exactly, makes him a Stalinist? Moreover, he cannot be trying to “restore the USSR” as he lacks Soviet ideology.

        • gehazi

          yeah he is a ultra right wing christian nationalist, not a soviet

  • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

    Mr Massie might be happy to embrace the young men from Pravy Sektor and their oligarchic backers. Personally when I see armed militia with black, white and red armbands I’m not in a rush to call them my comrades.

    • gehazi

      you should head off to russia to join the glorious society.

  • Baron

    Alex, do google to see who’s in the provisional government in Kiev, then think, only then write, you’ll do yourself and others a favor.

  • pearlsandoysters

    The sheer volume of useless articles with the same line is an insult to intelligence. Where’re the critical skills so much vaunted in the university programms? It all looks as a massive PR exercise utterly devoid of any rational argumentation.

    • gehazi

      you are speaking about the russian support articles and people who support russian lies?

      • pearlsandoysters

        No. I mean the whole volume of articles in the Western press. The situation is presented as black and white, oversimplified with the roles assigned from the outset. The Russian mass media is obviously engaged in propaganda, thus making its easier to scan. As someone, who studied the conflict in Northern Ireland for purely academic purposes, I know that conflicts of such type are wrapped in so many controversies and neither side come out smelling of roses. I lament the lack of nuanced coverage and blunt ideologic divide that overshadows what’s really going on. The interests of the multinationals and geopolitics wreck havoc on unsuspecting population.

  • Daniel Maris

    People should remember that Russia signed up to a treaty respecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine. They have reneged on that.

    They have shown they are not to be trusted.

    We (the UK and/or EU) should pursue an active policy of disengagement from Russia.

    We should offer them a solution – cancel the incorporation of Crimea and agree a rerun of the referendum, subject to approval by Ukraine. The rerun should be a genuine referendum with equal media for both sides to put across their view.

    • RobertC

      “The rerun should be a genuine referendum with equal media for both sides to put across their view.”

      Yes, the recent Crimea vote was a very close run thing!

      • Daniel Maris

        I believe had there been a free vote with equal media, no intimidation and normal turnout, the result would probably be much, much closer – perhaps 60-40 in favour of independence or union with Russia. Not all Russians wanted to detach from Ukraine.

        • Wessex Man

          how do you know? have you asked them, or are you making assumptions based on your own prejudices yet again?

          • Unenlightened_Commentary

            It can be inferred from the demographics of Crimea and polling over the years that the ceiling for joining Russia is probably about 60%.

            The last time Crimea voted on the issue was in 1991 when 54% voted to leave the USSR.

    • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

      The only way to disengage with Russia is to find a way for Europe to do without their energy exports. There are several options. Personally I rather like thorium reactors but I’ll confess a weakness for big industrial things.

      • Daniel Maris

        Well I have for many a post here making clear just how important energy independence is. We can see that all the more clearly now. Of course I personally favour a green energy programme.

        • Wessex Man

          it’s just a shame when the wind is not blowing or blowing to much or when it’s night time or bucketing down with rain isn’t it?

          We need to get real and Frack and yes build new reactors before the lights go out!

        • Alexsandr

          green energy? frack off…. :)

      • gehazi

        pebble bed thorium is a great solution

  • asalord

    I blame Khrushchev.

    • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

      The shoe’s on the other foot now!

    • joeblow55

      Actually Khrushchev, along with gorby, were the two most sensible leaders of the 20th century.

      • asalord

        Aye, Khrushchev really cared about humanity, that’s why he stuck nuclear weapons in Cuba.
        Today nobody knows what drove Khrushchev to “give” Crimea to the Ukraine in 1954.

      • Unenlightened_Commentary

        Stopping Beria becoming leader of the USSR was probably Khrushchev’s greatest achievement.

        • joeblow55

          Why so? Beria was willing to give east Prussia back to Germany, reunite her, give Karelia back to Finland and liberate the baltic states. I know he was Stalin’s stooge, but why is he so bad? I say that respecting Khrushchev and his ignoring castro’s demand to nuke the United States.

          • Unenlightened_Commentary

            Good point about Khrushkev and Cuba.

            The problem with Beria is that he was psychotic even by the standards of Stalinism- he didn’t just kill for ideology or power like Stalin but did it for fun. He was a known rapist and in the mid 90s the remains of several girls were found in his garden.

            The idea of someone like that with nukes is horrifying.

  • tjamesjones

    Gosh, you sure gave that straw man a good beating Alex.

    • Mr Eugenides

      Straw man? Clearly you aren’t reading these comments. Half the commenters on here are making exactly the “straw man” arguments that Massie was attacking in his piece.

      • xDemosthenesx

        by half you mean all

  • rtj1211

    OH do grow up.

    Provide the evidence that Putin ‘invaded Ukraine’. He did no such thing.

    Provide the evidence that referendum was rigged, either in the ballot box or through intimidation.

    Provide the evidence that it is normal and acceptable for all Russian language stations within Ukrainian media to be banned as the first act of a Parliament which has ousted its President.

    Provide the evidence that it is acceptable for the US and the EU to fund the overthrowing of the democratically elected, albeit corrupt and objectionable President of Ukraine (I find the President of the EU extremely objectionable and he is also unelected, but you don’t seem to be demanding that we overthrow him, do you?)

    We jollied off to the Falklands 32 years ago, half way around the world, because the Islanders didn’t want to be Argentinians.

    But Mr Putin isn’t allowed to go next door when Crimeans don’t want to be Ukrainians if they can’t speak Russian and have to join the EU??

    You really are off with the fairies and need to be cross-examined in a court of law where a half-decent pupil in chambers would destroy your reputation so comprehensively that your career as a ‘journalist’ would be dead in the water by close of play.

    • joeblow55

      Let’s see. The referendum offered two yes choices, one to become part of the Russian gulag or two, be an autonomous region of the Russian gulag. No choice to stay part of Ukraine. If that isn’t rigged, I don’t know what is.

      • Ali Amer

        Why for Referendum to stay part of Ukraine, while i am voting for Separations. If they vote less that 50 %, for separation, then Crimea will be allowed to stay with Ukraine.

  • JoshuaCzajkowski

    I despise the European Union but it is deeply shameful to see people siding with Putin purely because they share a dislike of the EU.

    If you want to sit there and say “Let Putin do what he wants with Ukraine”, don’t go complaining when no offers help if our sovereignty is ever violated.

    • tjamesjones

      Nobody has ever said Let Putin do what he wants with Ukraine. That’s just weird hyperbole. Crimea under self-determination was always likely to want to be part of Russia. Not true of Ukraine.

    • gerontius

      “don’t go complaining when no offers help if our sovereignty is ever violated”

      I won’t complain, because I am certain that no one will help us if our sovereignty is ever violated.
      I am not siding with Putin, I just don’t regard this as my fight.

  • JonBW

    Crimea is Russian.

    It is to Russia what Ulster is to Britain; and unless we are going to do away with the Unionist veto, we are hypocritical to criticise Putin.

    • joeblow55

      Of course ulster is irish land stolen by the Brits. Nice analogy,

      • Wessex Man

        Just as Monmouthshire is English! but that didn’t stop a Dictator signing it over to the Welsh one July night in 1972, without a care and no consultation with the English people of Monmuthshire. Yes the one and only Ted Heath.

        Ted Heath should have been dragged before an High Court for treason on that alone, never mind the treachery of joining the EEC!

    • Unenlightened_Commentary

      No, it’s what the Republic of Ireland is to Britain- an independent state who are no longer part of the state it seceded from.

  • zanzamander

    And when are you going to punish China for annexing Tibet or Turkey for invading and occupying Northern Cyprus?

    • Richard N

      Or the US, for invading Iraq, Afghanistan – and innumerable other ‘sovereign countries’?

      • joeblow55

        Actually, Iraq put the Shia MAJORITY in power. In Syria, the Shia MINORITY rule (about 12 percent of the population). That is the difference between bush and Putin.

      • Alexsandr

        or the french for annexing calais from the English?

    • joeblow55

      I say do it now. Agreed?

    • Unenlightened_Commentary

      Northern Cyprus is punished for the Turkey’s occupation.

      China is unfortunately too powerful to punish- and too much time has elapsed- but Russia is not in China’s league.

  • Wessex Man

    I suppose you have already been on exercises on Salisbury Plain ready to lead our glorious liberation of Crimea with Wing Commander Hague offering aerial support in our Spitfires, even if those pesky Russians who happen to form the majority of the population of Crimea don’t want EUSSR help?

    Or are you thinking of sending off bone weary under-equiped British Soldiers to ‘safeguard’ “Eastern Spring?”

    Or do you think for just once, you could go away and write a decent article?

  • D Whiggery

    You seem a little tetchy Alex.

    Both sides are at fault here, both sides are engaging in propaganda, although Putin is more blunt about it.

    When the West is happy to cynically undermine its own democracies to pursue other objectives it can hardly then blame Putin for cynically abusing democracy to pursue his objectives.

    If we want the world to listen to us as they once did, it’s not enough to expose Putin for what he really is, but we need to show ourselves as what we should be and that doesn’t mean intervening militarily or economically. The West needs to put its own house in order and walk the walk, rather than just talk the talk.

  • solly gratia

    Have we got to endure this mainstream war mongering drivel where-ever we read this week? Do you use the same copy writer as Con Coughlin? Perhaps the same pub for lunch?
    It’s simple, we don’t believe the mainstream media party line anymore; you keep banging out the same script, not realising that the very internet you use to promote it has educated us to be more critical of what we read. Especially when it comes at us from all quarters in the same shrill tones (with that little lift at the end Hague does so well), and following the same ‘scare the children with “Putin the bogey-man”‘ plot line.

  • Mike Barnes

    “An astonishing number of useless twits appear to think Russia’s annexation of the Crimea is somehow not Vladimir Putin’s fault.”

    Well it’s not Putin’s fault, and he was provoked.

    He didn’t wake up one morning and decide he fancied taking over Crimea. He did it in response to an EU funded, pro-European, illegal coup in Kiev.

    The former President Yanukovich may have been a complete scumbag but the people did vote for him, and the people in Eastern Ukraine don’t want to become European, they’d rather maintain their links to Russia.

    Are you saying that democracy doesn’t matter anymore, as long as a coup is progressive, pro-European and pro-globalisation?

    Are you telling the people of Crimea who just voted to become part of Russia they are wrong? Who do you think you are exactly?

    • Martin Adamson

      Yanukovich was indeed democratically elected. The Parliament that deposed him was also democratically elected. The Ukrainian Constitution that allows Parliament to depose the President in case of Presidential malfeasance was democratically approved.

      • littlegreyrabbit

        “The Ukrainian Constitution that allows Parliament to depose the President in case of Presidential malfeasance was democratically approved”

        There is a fairly complicated set of provisions in the Constitution that allows the Parliament to depose the President. It wasn’t implemented in the slightest.

        Judging by the votes, a considerable portion of the Parliament no longer attends – presumably on security fears.

        If you are interested in the constitutional procedure to remove the President, it is Article 111

        “The decision on the removal of the President of Ukraine from the office in compliance with the procedure of impeachment shall be adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by at least three-quarters of its constitutional membership upon a review of the case by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, and receipt of its opinion on the observance of the constitutional procedure of investigation and consideration of the case of impeachment, and upon a receipt of the opinion of the Supreme Court of Ukraine to the effect that the acts, of which the President of Ukraine is accused, contain elements of treason or other crime.”

        It is not the same as your vote of no-confidence to remove a PM.

    • Ron Todd

      He is an opportunist. He used the overthrow of the president as an excuse. He did not care if it was done by the Ukrainian constitution or not.

    • FF42

      Somewhat surprisingly you prove Alex’s point. Whether or not it was an illegal coup it certainly wasn’t any of Mr Putin’s business. He wasn’t provoked and he had no excuse to invade.

    • joeblow55

      I note there are a lot of posts generated on this site from the Russian FSB (KGB) just like this one. Ignore them for the propaganda they are. And I would say to all Muslims, Tatars and others who are part of the Putin gulag, fight back.

    • Two Bob

      Putin is a mans man and is a true leader.

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