Playing chicken!

The invasion of the Ukraine was not one of President Putin’s cleverest moves, and we are beginning to see the unravelling of this misguided strategy; clearly, he didn’t foresee quite so much resistance from the Ukrainian military and civilian militia, and now realizes it will take greater force with the backup of a nuclear threat to subdue Russia’s neighbor.

In putting his country’s nuclear arsenal on “special alert”, Putin is playing a very dangerous game; and trying to justify it on the grounds of NATO aggression will not wash. There has been no active aggression on the part of NATO, simply support for Ukrainian sovereignty. Should the West be cowered by Putin’s latest move, to ratchet up the tension? I think not. The West has the nuclear capability to wipe out Russia as the Russians have the power to destroy the West; we have known this for decades, so stop playing mind games, the stakes are too high, Mr Putin. He knows using nuclear weapons against the Ukraine would be suicide for millions of Russians, unless, of course, he has lost it, in which case start praying like mad! 

The attack on the Ukraine is going to intensify, with massive structural damage to cities and an escalation in civilian casualties. We need embedded journalists to monitor the situation, recording abuses by Russian soldiers, so that charges of war crimes can be brought against the Kremlin regime. Also, Russia should be required to pay reparations to the Ukraine. 

A negotiated settlement is still possible, given good will on both sides. However, there is understandable mistrust on the part of the Ukraine and the West. Russia has done little to instill confidence, and specters of the past still haunt the free world’s memory: Stalin’s duplicity and the invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The Kremlin has a long and arduous road ahead if it hopes to mend fences. 

About the Author
Peter John Beyfus is an historian, published author, poet, and a person who prides himself on “thinking outside the box”. I have written many essays on Jewish themes, published in various journals, including ‘Wessex Jewish News’ and ‘Westminster Quarterly’, the magazine of Westminster Synagogue, London.
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