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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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Opinion: What we need to do now Putin has invaded Ukraine

As if the world didn’t have enough to deal with, we now have a war going on in Ukraine. I’m sure like many people, I hoped that the buildup of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine was just posturing by that thug in the Kremlin, but one thing we should know about Putin, he often follows up threats with action.

He is without a doubt, the biggest threat to peace we have known in decades, an unstable despot still fuming over the fall of the USSR in the 1990s. 

The reaction from around the world has been heartening if a little late, but the response in Ukraine has been absolutely phenomenal and heartwarming. The courage and determination shown by President Zelenskyy and his people is remarkable. The Russians have the largest army in the world, and overwhelmingly outnumber the Ukrainians, but they have shown they are no push-over and are willing to sacrifice everything to remain independent.

For the entire world, it is essential that they remain independent. Russia cannot be allowed to continue with Putin’s selfish and dangerous aggrandisement.

Here in the West, it is time for us to recognise how much we, collectively have helped Putin to think he can bully anyone he considers an enemy.

The US, Britain, and EU have all allowed money laundering to go almost unchecked by the Russian mafia, we’ve seen half-hearted responses to the murder of citizens in the West, the invasion of Chechnya and Syria. Why? Because the West is addicted to money, and especially to oil and gas supplies from Russia. Societies may not ‘like’ what Putin does, but we sure haven’t wanted to stop the trade.

The biggest one to blame is America. In 2016, they elected a corrupt con artist with obvious ties to Russia as President. In four years, he destabilised NATO, pulled troops out of Afghanistan, and Germany with seemingly little thought of the geopolitical repercussions. I use the word ‘seemingly’ because it should be obvious that Trump’s connections to Putin meant he was working in Russia’s best interests and not America’s.

America has become weakened and distracted by its domestic political situation. Trump’s allies in Congress and in leadership positions around the country have been waging a slow-moving coup for years. Unpicking the threads of democracy one by one. This is a dangerous moment in our world because the main bulwark of Western security is falling apart. Much of that is because of Putin. He has successfully manipulated America and heightened its internal tensions.  

This moment should bring us to our senses. We need to help Ukraine as much as possible, preferably without a major world war. Part of that involves rededicating ourselves to the principles of democracy, freedom, equity. 

America in particular needs to look very carefully at who owns news outlets in that country. I have no idea what connection Rupert Murdoch has with Putin, but his media outlets have been undermining American democracy for a long time. It is Murdoch who controls Fox News, and therefore it is he, who is complicit in the ‘fake news’ that the channel spews out. 

We need to become less dependent on fossil fuels, not only for the health of our planet but also to avoid money going to corrupt regimes that profit from them. 

Hopefully, if Putin goes down for this abominable invasion, the West will change its engagement with Russia to one of cooperation. Help foster real democracy in a country that has never really known it. We do that by helping Russia overcome its past. By connecting with the country in the same way that America did with Germany and Japan after World War 2. 

My heart is with Ukraine right now, but we must also remember that the Russian people are also victims of Putin. They live in an autocracy, run by a petty tyrant. 

In freeing Ukraine, let’s also help Russia to free itself, and make sure we here in the West redouble our efforts to bolster democracy and equality while rooting out corruption at home as well. 


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