This blank page seems awfully blank today. I’m really not sure how to begin or what I should write about. I have my usual bits of paper with scribbled notes. Most are about the heinous onslaught on Ukraine. The rest seem, suddenly, irrelevant. All-encompassing, the news bulletins every hour tell the same story of a country bombarded by an unhinged – and, seemingly, unleashed – tyrant. A tyrant who has brainwashed his people into believing they are fighting for the power of good: to release Ukraine from Nazi encumberment. They have no idea. Putin has silenced all external media organisations thus rendering his control of the narrative complete. While the BBC suspends the work of its journalists in Russia pending an assessment of the situation, legislation has, today, been passed by the Russian Parliament banning the ‘disrespect‘ of authorities and the spreading of what the government deems to be ‘fake news‘. Such ‘crimes‘ carry a jail sentence. Only tonight, watching the horrific treatment of the escalating number of brave Russians protesting against the war on the streets of Moscow, I learned that there is a five year prison sentence for those inciting others to join them. Protestors supporting calls for sanctions, meanwhile, face three years in a forced labour camp … The word ‘war‘ is now forbidden in Russia. In Putin’s world, the attack on Ukraine is a ‘special military operation’!
‘We have no bad intentions towards our neighbours … I think that everyone should think about how to normalise relations and co-operate normally.’
The words of Putin today – 4th March – in a bizarre appearance on Russian television. (Perhaps equally bizarre was the showing of a vintage performance of Swan Lake following the silencing of all independent media!). The man is completely deluded giving rise to increasing cause for concern. Capable of anything, in his mind it is as though he believes himself to be the ultimate power whose every wish shall be executed while normality pervades. Normality?! As Ukraine stands tall, desperately trying to thwart the devil, the entire world watches and waits as though helpless. That feeling of helplessness is widespread. Owned not detached, it is coupled with disbelief. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, crucially that which Putin most feared. Understandable, now. For, a NATO country under attack commands the support of its fellow members. Ukraine would not have been left to fight alone … Mere bureaucracy? No doubting the situation is extremely fragile given the bid to avert WWIII at all costs but how does one define ‘all costs’? The loss of innocent life? Are all expendable in this bid? The Ukrainian people, guilty of nothing more than the wish to live, peacefully, in a democratic, free country? As the Russians close in, Ukraine is being desecrated bit by bit to the point that, in the end, nothing will remain. As James Mates so poignantly put it today, reporting from the capital Kyiv:
‘Whoever wins this war seems likely to inherit little but a shattered land emptied of its millions of people.’
Is that what is meant by ‘all costs’?
Torn apart by war, who can erase the images of fathers fighting back the tears as they say goodbye to their children, perhaps for the last time? As the men stay to fight – many women, too – their loved ones disappearing into the distance, terrified, their futures unknown. Echoes of a past hell from which, it would seem, we have learned nothing. This is 2022 but, hauntingly, we are still in the playground! As the school bully indulges in a reign of terror, fearful of attack, the weak stand back, watch and do nothing.
I am finding this hard to write cohesively, my mind overflowing with thoughts and images. Addicted to news updates, it is, at once, devastating to watch and extremely frustrating. The Russians targeted one of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants last night – Europe’s largest. Inherited by Ukraine following the demise of the Soviet Union, it is one of four. Shelled repeatedly, a fire broke out in the Zaporizhzhia plant as a sleeping Europe teetered on the brink of a nuclear apocalypse. Dangerously close to horrors beyond our ken, thankfully, the blaze was contained – this time – with, so far, no evidence of radioactive contamination. So, a reprieve but for how long?
Putin has, surely, shown his hand. There is no horror off limits; no evil. too great. Now, almost completely isolated, there is no turning back – not within his character. Instead, like a rat in a corner, he is at his most dangerous. So it is that, ironically, the decision to leave Ukraine to the wolves – in terms of military support – may, yet, result in exactly that which was to be avoided at all costs: WWIII.
President Volodymyr Zelensky – he, who has become the symbol of heroism – once more pleaded for help in his address today. Increasingly desperate, he didn’t mince his words in his message to the rest of Europe: ‘If we fall, you fall’ … and he is right. There but for the grace of God go we and who the hell would come to our aid?! Hardly top of the popularity stakes in Europe after the fiasco that was Brexit, at least NATO claims us as one of its own. We can only hope we filled in the forms correctly …
Saturday, now, and I’m avoiding the news but the images remain. My over-riding feeling? Perhaps, disbelief. Disbelief that we are here again, seventy-seven years later and, moreover, we are doing nothing, physically, to help Ukraine despite the pleas of its courageous president. It is alien to me. Yes, there may be logic in it but, morally? To literally watch the desecration of a country and its people before our very eyes? Sanctions are nothing more than restrains of string to a deranged dictator such as Putin but still we wait allowing the devil free reign …
I wonder how it came to this? What is wrong with this world today? I might be better asking what is right?! To that, I would reply ‘little’. Roman Abramovich is, reportedly, selling Chelsea Football Club for £4billion, a huge return on his investment of £140million in 2003. Therein lies the poison: all value is monetary, no morals remain.
As the demise of Europe at the hands of rogue dictator continues to dominate the news, there are few blessings to be had other than the fact that COVID has almost sunk without a trace … or has it? Along with the rest of the world, I was shocked to hear of the sudden death of Shane Warne, yesterday, from a ‘suspected heart attack’. He was 52 years-old, for goodness sake! An acclaimed cricketer; a sportsman. The dots are beginning to join …
‘Appeasement is the policy of feeding your friends to a crocodile, one at a time, in hopes that the crocodile will eat you last.’
Franklin D. Roosevelt
The perfect analogy …
This is Trish, signing off.