I was delighted to find my name amongst the MPs ‘sanctioned’ by Vladimir Putin yesterday and will wear it as a badge of honour. That a foul, murdering dictator like Putin should dislike me, or seek to attack me in some way, is good news indeed. I am a sworn enemy of his dictatorial regime, and of course would do whatever I could to end its wickedness.
We must not, however allow our determination to stop Putin to develop into some kind of general Russo-phobia. I was horrified to hear from a friend of mine with a Russian name (whose family were in fact expelled many years ago and settled quietly in a modest UK housing estate) that his children had been abused and bullied in school just because of their name. I have travelled to Russia many times and have many Russian friends. They are a kindly, warm-hearted people; and we must not allow the mad excesses of their tyrannical President develop into some kind of general hatred of them all.
Ukraine is an independent nation state, and none of her sovereignty or independence can be taken away as Russia have tried to do. Self-determination (by the whole of the Nation) must be one of the most fundamental of all principles of international law. Incidentally, please do not believe the bogus ‘referendums’ which Putin may well use to justify illegal occupation of the Donbass, Crimea, perhaps even Georgia, Moldova, Transnistria or Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Hitler used a similar argument of self-determination by the German speaking people of the Sudetenland to justify its invasion.
So I welcome the strength and clarity of Liz Truss’s Mansion House speech when she called for Putin to be expelled from every corner of Ukraine. It is hard to see how that will be achieved in the short term at least; but a clear aim of that kind sends a powerful message to the Kremlin. They have been astonished both by the unanimity of the International community in condemning this illegal invasion, as well, of course, by the stoic determination and bravery of the Ukrainian people.
But there’s another reason why I support the Foreign Secretary’s robust and outspoken approach. Intelligence is emerging from the Kremlin of the beginnings of a move towards some kind of Palace coup against Putin. (Changes in Russian regimes always occur by violent means.) However, before you instinctively welcome that, be aware that the plotters are said to be the FSB (former KGB) and generals, potentially rebelling against Putin not because they dislike what he has done, but because they believe he has been too soft on Ukraine and her allies (like the United Kingdom). They would like to see the war very much escalated into a full-scale assault on the whole of Ukraine, very probably elsewhere as well. And they would not hesitate to use weapons of mass destruction to achieve their wicked war aims. These are the powerful elements within the Russian Regime at whom Liz Truss’s speech was, I would guess, directed. They must be made to realise that we will simply not tolerate any escalation of that kind in Ukraine, or against any NATO member state.
We may hate what we see on our screens every night; but we should be aware that it could be a very great deal worse if we do not demonstrate our determination and singlemindedness to the other wicked Kremlin oligarchs. Weakness in the west is exactly what they are seeking. Appeasement never works.
My delight at being ‘sanctioned’ by Putin will, I hope, send my own little personal message of defiance.