While appreciating that historical comparisons are never exact, Andrew Massie’s apparent belief (Perspective, 19 March) that the recent Russian annexation of Crimea and Nato’s earlier action in establishing a Kosovan state free of Serbian control are comparable is quite extraordinarily obtuse.
While there was, in both cases, a linguistic and ethnic division in the area, the Albanian-speaking Kosovans had already been subjected to widespread violence, with episodes more comparable to the massacre of Glencoe than to the treatment of the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine by the present government in Kiev.
Yes, there have been claims, including those by Russian President Vladimir Putin, that the Russian minority had been subjected to discrimination and persecution. But where is the evidence of this?
On the BBC yesterday, a former British ambassador to Russia pointed out that there is none.
This in contrast to the abundant evidence of escalating discrimination against Albanians and their culture in Kosovo since the death of Marshal Tito, culminating in Serbian atrocities attested to by individuals’ names on memorials all over Kosovo.
Although one cannot deny that there may be indefensible historical anomalies that can be alluded to in the Russian recovery of Crimea and constraints on action based on realpolitik, a comparison to the Nato and later EU actions in Kosovo is simply inappropriate.
When the Cold War was over, our defences were more or less scrapped to save money.
“Not needed,” said our wise politicians.
But suddenly the bear awakened from its slumber and stretched a leg, leaving us with Foreign Secretary William Hague and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton, to wag their fingers and threaten sanctions against the second most powerful nation in the world – one that also now happens to supply much of our gas and oil. Such masterly strategy.