Life events

Inching Closer To Conflict

At the beginning of the war in Ukraine, like most fair-minded people, untouched by Putin’s Hitler-esque internal propaganda campaign denigrating the entire Ukrainian nation, I would decry NATO’s lack of concrete action.

The absence of strong, deterrent language from NATO was at odds with the fierce defence and courageous leadership shown by so many ordinary Ukrainian men and women.

A screen grab from Russia Today around 24th February 2022. A western journalist, dressed in protective body armour, stands alone on an empty street, miles from the nearest bullet or bomb. Russia Today has now been taken off UK screens. However, the tsunami of propaganda towards Russian people continues.

As the world appeared to stand by and watch Russia’s slow but inevitable progress towards Kyiv, the lack of action from NATO’s member states emboldened Putin and his murderous regime. The wilful destruction of civilian building – hospitals, apartment blocks and social centres such as theatres – was clear evidence of war crimes.

But the ‘West’ appeared to sit back, saying it wasn’t ‘our’ war. The invitation to President Zelenskyy to speak at Parliaments the world over was at odds with the level of support offered by the very same governments.

Another screen grab from an online video showing the aftermath of Russia’s pre-planned annihilation of Ukrainian cities and towns.

And then Bucha happened.

With the exception of the Russian people, we had all been aware of the destruction of Ukraine’s infrastructure, but we had been completely unaware of the depravity and the genocidal behaviour of Putin’s soldiers in Ukraine. Suddenly the world woke up. Yes, arms had been supplied in large numbers, but the rhetoric had been diplomatically neutral.

The Bucha massacre changed everything. And now we are facing the reality of a world war. The strong language I hoped would be evident by NATO has finally started to filter into the media. And Putin isn’t happy.

9th March 2022. Being interviewed by Klan Kosova TV on the day Zelenskyy spoke to the British Parliament.

Every morning I wake up to check the latest news. The signs are not good. Standing up to Putin and it’s ridiculous propaganda machine is the right thing to do. The fact that we are inching closer to conflict with Russia is not a surprise. Historically, proxy wars are conducted by the superpowers via third party countries. Angola, Nicaragua and Afghanistan come to kind. But for the first time since The Crimean War over 160 years ago, we are as close as we have ever been to facing Russian troops on the battlefield.

So what does all this mean to people across the UK and Europe? Will we find our troops deployed on the ground in Ukraine, taking up arms against Putin’s ramshackle, ill-disciplined military forces? For now, that’s unlikely. However, it’s highly likely that members of the UK’s SAS or SBS are already on the ground, supporting Ukrainian special forces in their efforts to eliminate Russia’s senior commanders. A brilliant strategic decision designed to exploit Russia’s Napoleonic tactics and approach to warfare, and of course to undermine Russian morale.

The strong stance against Russia that I hoped NATO would deliver is finally making its voice heard. My experience of working in a NATO setting doesn’t bode well for quick, decisive action. And Putin knows it.

Russia’s inevitable focus on Transnistria, the breakaway unrecognised republic on the Eastern border of Moldova has long been a source of instability in the region. Putin’s decision to use it as a base for operations against Ukraine’s Western flank near Odessa could be a game-changer. What will the west do to prevent this development? How will NATO act to prevent a huge in-pouring of Russian troops into the region? The only way in is by air. Surely some well placed ground to air missile batteries would quickly render this military option as unworkable for Russia. But are we looking at these kinetic options to prevent Ukraine from losing access to the Black Sea?

We just have to hope that someone, somewhere in a NATO headquarters is thinking the same way.

By Ade Clewlow MBE

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