Monday, June 06, 2022

The West must not give way to Kremlin blackmail

There is no risk-free response to Russia's illegal, bloody and disastrous invasion of Ukraine.

It is wise that Ukraine's allies have sought to avoid allowing the conflict to spread to a general war which might escalate to a nuclear exchange.

However, the blood-curdling threats from certain Russian politicians and the Kremlin's occasional ominous threats on this subject are largely for domestic consumption - they cannot have failed to  notice that NATO have been scrupulous in limiting their support for Ukraine to those forms which are unlikely to lead to a general war, and those in the Russian leadership who have the tiniest vestige of sanity are as frightened of any form of nuclear exchange as the West is.

It is also important to recognise that failure to maintain support for Ukraine - and particularly, failure to give them enough  military support to enable themselves to defend themselves - also carries terrible risks.

We're in this position because for the last eight years the Russian President has got away with aggression against his neighbours and flattening cities through of innocent people.

If Putin is seen to benefit from this latest assault on Ukraine, every dictator on the planet will draw the lesson that direct military aggression against peaceful neighbouring countries which pose no threat to you can be a successful policy. 

I don't know which innocent country will be next to be attacked if we allow that lesson to be learned - whether it will be Taiwan or Finland, South Korea or Poland - but I do know that the likelihood of further wars breaking out and more innocent women and children being, shelled, bombed and killed will be far greater.

The biggest need Ukraine has at the moment is the ability to respond to Russian long-range artillery, both the type which uses shells and their multiple missile launchers. The Russian army has used long-range artillery to make up for the abject underperformance of much of the rest of their military and to smash both Ukrainian positions - and the homes of Ukrainian civilians - from what has been a safe range.

The West needs to give Ukraine the ability to shoot back. And our main reaction to the threats from the Kremlin to attack more targets if Ukraine is given such weapons, should be that it shows how worried they are that it might reduce the unfair advantage Russia has over Ukraine when the latter country is already costing Russia dearly in blood and material despite that advantage.

Russia is already hitting Ukraine as hard as it can. If the Ukrainian army can shoot back at Russian long-range artillery, the Kremlin will have less ability, not more, to murder Ukrainian civilians at long range.  

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