SANDRA CHAPMAN: Let’s hope Ukraine can escape the vainglorious dictator Putin

It’s been a harrowing week in so many ways.
Power is what Putin cravesPower is what Putin craves
Power is what Putin craves

There I was moaning about how hard the winds had been on my young daffodils and how the cold was keeping me from tackling the weeds which want to live forever.

Then events far away took over television and suddenly there were people, young and old, struggling with bags, holding children and pets, clinging to each other, fear mapped on their faces as weapons of war reigned down near and on them as they fought for the trains that would take them to temporary safety. It was hard not to weep for the people of Ukraine.

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In previous decades those of us of a certain age have seen similar episodes in other countries, equally heart-breaking. But this episode showed us the dead lying on the streets, the children shocked into silence and the heart-breaking scenes where families had to say goodbye to the sons, fathers and husbands who had to walk away, some clutching the favourite soft toys their children gave them as they said goodbye. Big men cry too.

Putin, as evil as any megalomaniac in the past, doesn’t care, of course. He’s been called all sorts of things but power is what he craves. The rest of us, in our innocence, thought he would have been brought down days ago. But wars are not bun fights. Putin has stayed well out of the battleground sticking to the safety of Moscow where it’s more fun to entertain his generals and young ladies from the national airline, while the desperate family pets left behind by their owners in Ukraine are eating off the bodies in the streets.

I turned to the national newspapers to see what important people were saying about the catastrophe. David Frost in the Daily Telegraph wrote…”these actions come after many years of Western un-seriousness about foreign and defence policy. ….. too many Western policy makers and diplomats had built a world view based on illusions: the fantasy that every country saw things as we did, that diplomacy was best conducted by posturing and virtue signalling, and that deference to international institutions was the best solution to every problem. It is this elegant but dysfunctional and feebly underpinned intellectual edifice that has finally come crashing down under the onslaught of Russian tanks.” Could he come back and try and sort out the Protocol for us?

Those of us who thought Russians themselves, cocooned in the relative safety of their country, should try to bring Putin down brought this response from Sherelle Jacobs, also Telegraph: “It’s wishful thinking to expect the Russian people to topple Putin.”

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And so here we are into the third week and the battles in Ukraine still rage. Just look at ourselves too. The Troubles, as this generation knows them, have been going since the early 60s. Belfast in the 1970s and 80s was a dangerous place to be, yet we all pulled our weight and got on with it, queueing at the army checkpoints, keeping out of the unsafe areas of which there were many.

Of course we lost many innocents, including the unborn, with few of the perpetrators ever appearing before a court of law. Some of them became politicians.

We have to forgive, but we cannot forget the horrors of The Troubles as we try to make our country a better place for the young generation coming after us.

But there is heartache too. Many young people left Northern Ireland to find a better place to live, many encouraged by their parents who had been through it all. It has meant that grandparents don’t see their grandchildren growing up and I suspect that the grandparents hiding in the basements of bombed out homes in Ukraine may probably never see their young families again either, even if they do survive the war.

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Here in the UK we view the prospect of enormous rises in electricity, heating oil and prices at the pump as the result of Putin’s vainglorious escapade into a country which nobly fought back for its right to live without interference from Moscow.

I pray now that the abandoned pets will be rescued.

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Ben Lowry


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