Ukraine: Boris’s Falklands?

What a gift for Boris this Ukraine business is! It gives him the ideal opportunity to look strong and resolute, climb into fighter jets for photo ops, talk with (or, rather, at) powerful autocrats, issue dire warnings, look Churchillian, speechify and sloganize, harness history to his purposes (‘Munich’), send in soldiers… and push all that trivial ‘partygate’ stuff aside. (‘I’m focussed on the real issues’.) And all without doing anything at all to help the situation; indeed, if anything rather the reverse, if it makes it more difficult for Putin to behave as reasonably as he’s insisting he’s already doing. If he (Putin) draws back his troops, Johnson will claim it as a victory for his Churchillian stand. If he invades regardless, it will still be said to have justified that stand. For Boris it’s a win-win situation. Not, of course, for the Ukrainians; for whom one suspects it can only be lose-lose.

Of course I have no reliable opinion on what is in Putin’s mind, let alone BJ’s; and no more knowledge of things on the ground than I read in the generally ignorant, and deeply partisan, British press. (Sweden’s is more reliable.) Putin’s case against the Ukraine’s shifting towards NATO and the EU looks fairly reasonable (or let’s say ‘rational’), in geo-strategic terms. But then I have no way of knowing how likely that scenario is. There’s a case to be made for Europe’s having ‘imperial’ ambitions that threaten Russia’s border-states. That’s what our British Brexiters claimed, after all, with respect to the EU’s ‘imperialist’ relations with the UK. This seems to lie at the root of Putin’s paranoia; if indeed that is what it is. On the other side, a case can be made for Russia’s wanting to revive the Russian Empire/USSR, especially in the Baltic States, which are – as it happens – very close to us. That may be why Kajsa tells me she’s recently spotted Swedish warships in the Stockholm Archipelago. The Russian-speaking population in the east of Ukraine also obviously poses a problem, just as the Germans in the Sudetenland did in 1938. That needs to be sorted, one way or another; but in any case diplomatically.

I have to say I find it difficult to get inside the minds of those who think in these rather simplistic geo-political terms, despite my having studied ‘great power rivalries’ and ‘empires’ all these years. (There are gradations of ‘sovereignty’, and of ‘subjection’.) Nonetheless they seem genuine on the part of many national leaders, especially the more authoritarian ones. Whether they will cause Putin to launch a ‘Sudetenland’ on the Ukraine, and then advance to confront the Swedish navy in the Baltic, I can’t possibly tell. But then neither can Boris, nor Biden, nor all those others who are predicting – or at least uttering dire warnings of – ‘the biggest war since 1945’ (that’s Johnson yesterday), in order to make our toes curl.

Let’s hope toe-curling is the end of it. And – more trivially – that the Ukraine doesn’t give the same boost to Johnson that the Falklands gave to Thatcher. He doesn’t deserve it.

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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10 Responses to Ukraine: Boris’s Falklands?

  1. Tony says:

    Perhaps the promised sanctions will be aimed at Russians as well as Russia, including all the dough donated to the Tories, removal of citizenship for oligarchs and their families, and sequestration of the assets of Putin and his cronies. But perhaps not, when they have successfully infiltrated the British establishment, with one already in the House of Lords.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mickc says:

    It rather looks like the East Ukraine problem has been solved…with “peacekeeping” a la West…but by Russia.
    This move also prevents Ukraine legally joining NATO, because it has a border dispute…of course that won’t stop it being offered, and accepted…which would be extremely foolish for both parties. But we have fools as leaders.
    And sanctions against Russia are likely to cause massive inflation in Europe, with gas prices rocketing.
    The Chinese curse of “may you live in interesting times” applies.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Putin’s speech of 21 February should remove all doubts about his intentions and motivation. Ukraine is not an authentic nation-state, he maintains, and deserves to resume its place as a component of Russia.
    It is amazing that otherwise well informed commentators have bent over backwards to take Putin’s pretexts – NATO as a threat to the Russian Federation etc – as serious grievances. Putin is cynically taking advantage of the West’s weakness to start to reclaim the territories once controlled by Moscow.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. mickc says:

    Sorry to labour the point, but Craig Murray’s blog has further information about who is likely to carry out a false flag operation…it isn’t Russia.

    He has already been imprisoned, no doubt his blog will shortly be banned, but they can’t ban all truth telling sites.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. mickc says:

    I doubt that Johnson’s Churchill act convinces anyone, including the UK electorate. He looks, to me at least, like a total buffoon, but then I have always been biased against him, for many reasons. Indeed, I believe his Brexit stance was a gamble which went wrong. He intended to lose by a small margin, as seemed likely, thereby gaining political support and more power.

    There is considerable evidence that NATO and the Western leaders undertook to Russia that NATO would not expand Eastwards…eg Jack Matlock’s blog. Putin is right on this point. Almost certainly he does not intend to revive the Soviet empire…Russia cannot afford it, but he intends Russia to be secure. After all, it’s his job.

    There is much MSM nonsense about false flag attacks by Russia. More likely is an attack by Ukraine on the Russian speaking breakaway regions with their newly supplied Western weapons and Putin supporting those regions militarily. He would have no choice. At that point anything could happen.

    Of course, the Minsk Agreement was the diplomatic solution…not implemented by Ukraine and the West.

    Incidentally Thatcher didn’t deserve her “Falklands boost”, her government caused the problem. The boost was a gift to her by Labour in not supporting the recovery of British territory with British occupants. But she always was lucky…until 1990.

    I always liked Kinnock’s riposte to a comment to him that Thatcher had guts…” it’s a pity others have to lose theirs to prove it!” Needless to say, he was lambasted by the Tory press.

    Britain should steer well clear of the Ukraine mess, as it did of the Sudetenland mess, it has no vital interests there.

    Liked by 1 person

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