The despicable and cowardly downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 is a tragedy on a global scale. We are all spectators to the unimaginable grief felt by the families and friends and no words of condolences can relieve their pain. We become numbed to such horror where it persists, as in the Middle East or in Africa. But when it is so close to home, as in Ukraine, I not only feel sadness but also shame. Shame because, despite living in a civilised, tolerant society that has endured world wars and many other conflicts, Europe is again at war.
There is hope, for despite all this strife and gloom, the Scottish independence debate is a beacon: no bombs, no bullets, no missiles, just words. But beware, words have a power beyond any gun and the Ukrainian crisis also illustrates this. While Ukraine struggles with war, across the border Russia is being destroyed by one man and his campaign to save face. President Vladimir Putin will never back down. If that means bringing the country to its knees, he will do it.
As Russia becomes ever more isolated, Putin’s propaganda machine will move into overdrive. For a while he will succeed, but just as his play in Ukraine is unravelling, so it will in Russia – but on a much larger scale. With Russia’s economy crashing, its reputation disintegrating, it will not be lost on the Russian people and conflict will follow. A conflict that will touch us all as it has with MH17.