I continue to be concerned by the repeated mistakes and narratives concerning the situation in Russia and Ukraine.
The Russian Federation controls some twenty per cent of Ukraine at this time and it is increasing. We are where we are. I do not feel the need here to cover some of the history whilst trying to look forwards.
Ukraine is now not capable of a further military counter-offensive and she is reliant on western financial aid to provide even basic salaries of government and military personnel. That dependency is going to continue in so many ways well into the future.
There really is a need for a ceasefire and negotiation to end the terrible slaughter of Ukrainian troops on the battlefield; not helped by the political-military tactics that have been and are being deployed. The country’s population has been decimated since independence from the Soviet Union and things are getting worse. It has long had the lowest birth rate in Europe.
Russia on the other hand has been getting stronger and stronger. Economically sanctions have made Russia improve many of its industries for self-sufficiency, such as agriculture, but equally military industries have been ‘cranked-up’. The current conflict has from one angle been significantly about Russian security and her desire to not have NATO expand into neighbouring Ukraine, but for there to be a neutral buffer-zone.
I have no objection to Ukraine joining the EU; so long as it meets the criteria and it is many years away from so doing. The smaller states within the current EU Membership know full well that were Ukraine to join in the next few years it would have a significant impact on their own economies. The drive in Brussels to ‘start’ Membership talks is largely political and cosmetic. I am comfortable with that so long as no one is fooled. Ukraine has a lot to do to meet anti-corruption, transparency and freedom of speech criteria alone.
It is not that long ago that the rhetoric was that Russia and Europe were connected and that both needed each other. I still believe that is true, certainly for prosperity. It is possible and it will remain possible for a negotiated settlement regarding Ukraine. It will not be as good for Ukraine as it might have been, but it is a great deal better than the alternative.