War in our time

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An elderly Ukrainian woman walks across her street towards an armed Russian soldier. She hands him some sunflower seeds and tells him that when he dies at least something good will grow where he falls.

Thirteen border guards on an island in the Black Sea are warned by the captain of a Russian warship that unless they surrender the vessel will open fire. The reply over the radio just before the guards were massacred translated as: “Go f**k yourself”.

Not a Hollywood wartime drama of dissent and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds, this is real life and it’s happening right now.

Sanctions and moves to isolate Vladimir Putin and his closest cronies on the world stage have been imposed thick and fast since Thursday’s invasion, but they’re the equivalent of telling him to sit on the naughty step for five minutes and calm down.

With the possible exception of China, he will have anticipated the reaction of the rest of the world before making his move and even with his only out and out supporters being Belarus and Syria, Putin doesn’t give a damn.

He has enough of his considerable personal wealth stashed away and doesn’t care what hardships befall the Russian people, or even that there is considerable opposition at home to his actions.

Revolution from within would be the ideal way to stop this madness, but we’ve all seen what happens when Russians disagree with their leader. Novichok on toast anyone?

Putin is set on a path to change the world order and create a new iron curtain. He knows that NATO won’t get into a war with a megalomaniac who holds enough nuclear weapons to have us all eating rat stew and drinking our own wee before the summer.

There is one option which would have an immediate and profound effect on the Russian economy. Suspending them from the SWIFT banking finance transfer system looked unlikely at first with Germany and France against such a move because of the damage a loss of Soviet business would do to their own economies.

But the position on that is softening and as I write this agreement has been reached to exclude targeted Russian banks.

And after all, those anti tank weapons being sent over from Berlin won’t be for free, not in the long term.

Unless they lose, of course, but even if Kyiv falls, Putin faces a long haul of having to deal with an unwavering underground resistance from a population that looks willing to fight to the last man – including the boxing Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, and President Volodymyr Zelensky, a man with no previous political experience whose claim to fame before being elected with a 73 per cent approval rating was as a comedy actor playing, would you believe it, the President of Ukraine, but who in less than a week has shown himself to be a more than worthy totem for his country’s fight, declining Joe Biden’s offer to get him out of the country to a place of safety (his answer: “I need ammunition, not a ride” should go down in history) and telling his opposite number in no uncertain terms that Russian forces would be met by Ukrainian faces, not their backs.

It is that determination in Ukraine’s people from the top down which ultimately may tip the scales.

For everyone’s sake let’s hope so because otherwise Putin won’t stop at Ukraine and we will have learned nothing in 80 years.

………………………………

Traditionally Saturday may not be the greatest evening for TV, but what on earth is going on with ITV’s Starstruck?

It’s a modern take on Stars In Their Eyes (more Stars In Their Minds) with a masked singer-style panel that includes Adam Lambert dressed like a gay Herman Munster and trios of working men’s club, holiday camp and cruise singers battling to be the best Cher, Tina Turner, etc.

Aren’t things bad enough in the world?

Stupid TV quiz answer of the week

Tipping Point:

Q: Which organ of the body is affected by pancreatitis?

A: The liver

Special mention to The Chase contestant who thought former Glasgow Rangers manager Walter Smith wrote the Robert Louis Stevenson novel The Master of Ballantrae.

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Edward Case

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