Ukraine: Action needed to make Russia realise it cannot threaten our democracy - Bernard Ingham

Over drinks in a Moscow dacha in 1987 a Soviet general told Margaret Thatcher that the Kremlin never thought the UK would send its armed forces to recover the Falklands.

It seemed that our response had induced a certain caution in the Kremlin.

We were not as soft a touch as they thought we might be.

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It is unlikely that the Politburo was then planning any adventure against the West since Mikhail Gorbachev was trying to reform his Communist party.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin with the World Cup trophy.

In the process he brought a (temporary) end to the Cold War and freedom for Eastern Europe and the Ukraine.

Now Vladimir Putin clearly calculated that at most he would get an international slap on the wrist if he marched into the Ukraine.

This is because for much of his 20 years as the Russian dictator, the West has been as wet as a whistle.

It is true that since George HW Bush and Mrs Thatcher chased Saddam Hussain out of Kuwait we have seen wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but followed by chaos and ignominious retreat, especially recently from Afghanistan.

Boris Johnson arriving in Poland.

All this made the democracies even less inclined to make war, even in defence of freedom.

Moreover, the UN is a busted flush in deterring aggression, especially when the two dominating Communist states in the world - Russia and China - are on its Security Council with their vetoes ready if their interests are threatened.

We have also seen how a branch of the UN - the World Health Organisation (WHO) - has equivocated over the source of the Wuhan covid pandemic.

UN silence over the Ukraine speaks volumes for its palsy in defending the peace.

It may be argued that the UN has never been up to much as a peacekeeper.

But this is not the only decline in the face a Communist expansionism.

The West as a whole has encouraged the view that it is a patsy.

We can hardly argue that five successive presidents of the USA - Bill Clinton, George Bush Jr, Barak Obama, that bag of wind Donald Trump, and now Joe Biden - have encouraged Putin to think twice about recovering what he thinks is his rightful empire.

Instead, we have witnessed the steady rise in ambition and confidence of the Communist world.

Chechnya, Georgia, the Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk, plus effective control over Belarus, have come and gone.

And only the courage and sacrifice of the Ukrainian people will prevent them from falling under the jackboot.

Meanwhile, China’s designs on Taiwan and the Pacific remain on the table along with its continued buying up of developing nations.

It becomes an even clearer case of self-neglect when you look at the EU, NATO and the UK.

We Brits pride ourselves on our support for NATO as a defence treaty and we certainly pour more resources into it than EU countries.

But Europe has for too long relied on the USA to maintain NATO in working, if not fighting order while at the same time putting its economies at the mercy of Russian fossil fuels.

Worse still, the French president, Emmanuel Macron has assiduously tried to undermine NATO with his campaign for a pan-European army.

And when we come home to the UK what do we find? What was one of the finest armed forces in the world has been run down to what the military warn is a dangerous level at a time when our national finances have been savaged by the cost of the covid pandemic.

To put the tin hat on it, we, along with Germany, are living daily in danger of power cuts because of our obsession with environmentalism.

Ironically, as we enter March, a mild winter stemming from global warming, may have saved our bacon for now with a worse crisis having been averted.

But not if we then discover we cannot provide basic foods for the table because of this re-wilding fad, which is taking viable farmland out of production when ti comes to producing the sustenance needed to feed the nation.

Frankly, we are in danger of becoming victims of our desire to be with it - with every confounded modern touchy-feely trend - instead of ensuring our safety and security in a dangerous world.

We may not be easily able to reform the UN but let’s hope we and the rest of the West still have time to go back to basics: ensuring that we can defend the

realm, the currency, the weak and uphold law and order when it is needed the most.

Our objective should be to make all hostile states, just like the Russian general, think twice about our resolve to defend the democracies.