NATO show of strength could stop Russia's ruthless Vladimir Putin - Paul Andrews

Peter the Great is very much in the news today, but perhaps our Prime Minister should focus on another famous conqueror, Alexander the Great, when considering how to deal with immigration and refugees.

The story is told of Alexander’s visit to a place called Gordion on his march of conquest. Here there was a yoke tied with a knot to a cart, and a prophesy that whoever could untie this knot would rule the world.

The knot was clearly one of those insoluble puzzles which would take hours (if not days or years) to unravel, and many people had tried and failed. Alexander slashed the knot with his sword. This sorted the puzzle and, in fulfilment of the prophecy, Alexander went on to conquer the known world.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

There are always dangers in using simple solutions to solve complex problems, but conversely there can be a difficulty in being able to see the wood for the trees.

Vladimir Putin.Vladimir Putin.
Vladimir Putin.

There are many causes for immigration. Some are rooted in our post-imperial heritage. Some relate to global warming. Many people have been uprooted by the ‘Arab Spring’, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And there are the usual economic migrants who see the UK as a land covered with pavements of gold and expect to find a better life here. Immigration is nothing new. It has been going on for the last 80 years and we’ve learnt to assimilate the newcomers.

What is new is the amount of refugees from Syria and Eastern Europe. Many of these people come from a warm Mediterranean climate which most English people envy. Why should they want to exchange their beautiful lands and glorious sunshine for our damp and cold winters? The answer is one man, and his name is Vladimir Putin.

When Obama and Cameron decided to abandon Syria, the Russians walked in, in support of Assad, their discredited puppet dictator, and later on Trump worked with the Russians in the war against terror. Putin took full advantage.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He employed every sinister weapon in his vast arsenal, including cluster bombs, barrel bombs and other projectiles which had been banned internationally. Ancient cities were obliterated, civilians slaughtered in their thousands and the brave opposition was slowly ground down by a relentless bombardment which they were powerless to resist. The civil war displaced at least four million Syrians who looked to the West for support and refuge.

When the West failed them, they became determined to enter Europe at any price. This huge amount of new refugees has had a destabilising impact on Western democracies. It has been exploited by political parties of the far right. This clearly suits a dictator like Putin down to the ground.

And Putin is solely responsible for the invasion of Ukraine. At present refugees are being welcomed internationally, but how soon before these too become subject to the resentment of residents and another stimulus for the far right?

In the meantime, Russia’s inefficient and incompetent war machine grinds on, reducing cities to rubble, and destroying homes and families. On the battlefield a whole generation of young people is being wiped out to satisfy one man’s warped sense of history. The grain required to feed the world’s poorest is held to ransom by an evil blockade, while Putin laughs at us like an archetypical Bond villain.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The question is: what is the answer? How to unravel this seemingly insoluble Gordian knot? Has the fear of nuclear war paralysed good sense and sound judgment? Will we ever stop the war if we keep on asking ourselves: “What if?”

Why not just cut the Gordian knot? Send Ukraine all the weapons President Zelenskyy asks for – as many and as soon as possible. Why worry if some of these may fall into Putin’s hands and give away military secrets?

Putin’s army relies on old technology. Any device which falls into his hands now will soon be superseded before he can copy it.

What of Putin’s threats – constantly repeated? Putin comes across as a cruel, ruthless, cold-blooded and calculating tyrant, but he’s not stupid. He won’t start a nuclear war unless Russia itself is invaded.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And why waste time negotiating shipping of grain from Odessa? Nato could send its warships into the Black Sea and operate a convoy system. Would Putin really risk an attack on a Nato convoy?

My guess is that if Putin sees Nato staying united in their support of Ukraine and ready to enforce international law (if necessary by force), his response to negotiations will suddenly become far more serious and realistic.