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Ukraine Invasion: A Failure By The West.

Posted on 28th February 2022

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The invasion of Ukraine by Russia continues to dominate the news. The world is surprised that the Ukrainians are holding out as well as they are; personally, I expected that it would all be over within 48 hours.

According to this report on The Sun, a Chechen special forces column, including 56 tanks, was obliterated near Hostomel, north-east of Kyiv, and Magomed Tushaev, the top Chechen general leading the column was reported by Meaww as having been killed. Russia is becoming frustrated by their slow progress, and have now put their nuclear forces on special alert (here, on the BBC).

The west is sending weapons to the Ukrainians, but no soldiers (western governments are to worried that sending armed forces would escalate into all-out Europe-wide war), but some governments are supporting (even encouraging) their citizens to go to fight to defend Ukraine, as reported here on the BBC. I know a Ukrainian living in Germany who is seriously considering going back to fight for his home country; not an uncommon scenario.

Instead of sending troops, the world is concentrating on vicious and wide ranging sanctions and other non-military actions:

  • EU and UK shut airspace to Russian planes (here, on the BBC);
  • The BBC reports that, after pressure from the UK government, BP will offload its stake in Rosneft and Norwegian energy giant Equinor will start divesting from its joint ventures in Russia;
  • A number of Russian banks are now banned from the SWIFT international banking network (here, on the BBC);
  • Fifa has told Russia not to compete under the Russian national flag (here, on the BBC);
  • As a result of the sanctions, Russia has more than doubled its key interest rate to 20% after the rouble slumped by 30% against the US dollar (here, on the BBC), and Russians are queuing up to get cash from ATMs amid fears of a run on banks (here, on Mint);
  • German chancellor Olaf Scholz announced an additional $113bn for the German army (here, on the BBC);
  • Russia has been banned from the Eurovision song contest (here, on Rolling Stone).

All this begs the question: if the sanctions are proving so effective, why did the west not act with such vigour after Russian annexed Crimea? The inaction by the western nations made Russia believe that we did not care about Ukraine and what the Russians did there. If action had been taken over Crimea, the current invasion of Ukraine would perhaps not have happened.

There are parallels here with the invasion of The Falklands by Argentina. Britain, with one of the world's most skilled and experienced diplomatic corps, somehow failed to give Argentina the impression that Britain would defend the islands. It is hard to believe that Argentina got the wrong understanding by accident, so were they suckered into a war (a war which gave a major popularity boost to Margaret Thatcher's faltering government)? Were the Russians similarly suckered into invading Ukraine, by being led to believe that the west didn't care?