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Tuesday, March 1, 2022

War in Europe. On 24 February 2022 at 5am, Kyiv is bombed by Russia

Kyiv is bombed by Russia

There is a famous phrase “4am Kyiv is bombed”. Every Ukrainian and Russian child knows it. That was the announcement of the German bombardment of Kyiv in 1941.

And here we are: 24 February 2022: 5am Kyiv is bombed by Russia.

  • "Vladimir Putin launched a broad Russian military offensive targeting Ukraine at about 5am local time (3am GMT) on Thursday morning after broadcasting a speech announcing a “special military operation” to “demilitarise” and “denazify” Ukraine."   

    The Guardian 

According to the UK Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, Putin has gone 'full tonto". In case, like me, your urban slang isn't up to date, this means "taken lunacy to a new level". Hard to disagree. I also noted that at Question Time in the NATO briefing on the morning of February 24th, one of the journalists called him Hitler and then quickly corrected herself. Intentionally I am sure and again, hard to disagree with her sentiment.

As I write this at the end of February, the situation in Ukraine remains unclear. The Russians are still attacking and the Ukrainians are resisting but it is unlikely this can continue for much longer. There is a massive build up of tanks just north of Kyiv. The most likely outcome at the moment looks like the Russians taking control of at least the Eastern part of the country and installing a puppet government. The Ukrainians will form a strong resistance movement and will make the lives of the Russians who are posted and remain in their country a living hell.

Much of the government and the embassies have already re-located to Lviv in the Western part of the country. President Volodymyr Zelensky and his top team appear determined to remain in Kyiv and he is doing a great job communicating with his people and the world via social media daily. His sanity contrasts sharply with the dictator Putin.

The West has just announced a package of sanctions that will make life hard and expensive for ordinary Russians and increasingly difficult for Putin and his cronies to operate they way they would wish. This could backfire and make Putin so angry that he unleashes an even wilder war. The West needs to devise a face-saving way out for Putin so that he can bring his war machine to a stop and claim to have won.

This will not be easy and I don't know what it could look like. It needs an ace team of Russia experts and psychologists to come up with a plan fit for a madman.

And in the meantime, hundreds are already dead and hundreds of thousands have already fled West to neighbouring Poland, Moldova, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

I am pleased to see that the Poles are welcoming the Ukrainian refugees with open arms (unlike recent waves of refugees from Syria). I know that they share a common hatred of the Russians.  A few years ago I was on a tour of Krakow and nearby Auschwitz. I asked my guide how hard it was for locals like him to welcome all the German tourists after the atrocities of WW2. He told me that they were less bothered by the Germans - they only persecuted them for four years. The Russians, he said, had been doing it for 500 years. 

Unless the Russian people rise up and put an end to this, it will take generations for their reputation to be restored. It may just be propaganda, but there are more and more stories on social media about demoralised Russian soldiers, who lack supplies and were told this was just a training exercise.  If much of this is true, things may change fast but how does Putin save face?

Slava Ukraini

"Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise" Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

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