Russian slick

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The current agony in Ukraine highlights the incompetence of the EU’s “diplomacy” and in particular the over-promoted Baroness Ashton and her absurd office – High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The ludicrously premature entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the EU raised unwise and effectively impossible expectations in western Ukraine.

But to ignore the failures 
and corruption of Ukraine’s 
leadership since the Orange 
Revolution, the special status 
of Crimea, the lessons of history and ethnicity, and the mindsets of the current ex-KGB rulers of Russia despite the examples of Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Georgia, not to mention the realpolitik of Russia holding all the geographic, economic, financial, military and energy supply cards, and to expect Ukraine to move almost seamlessly out of the Russian sphere of influence and towards Europe overnight, without even any EU financial aid, displayed a worrying level of utter ignorance and naivety.

Sensible negotiations for gradually increasing ties with the EU should have kept Russian interests in the loop, including some benefits to Russia such as a renewed pledge that Ukraine would not join Nato, as we promised former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

But currently the strident rhetoric of the western democracies seems bent on exceeding even our Syrian own-goals, and as long as we follow the Blair/Brown policy of significant dependence on Russian oil and gas, Vladimir Putin will reign supreme.

John Birkett

Horseleys Park

St Andrews

If Mrs Hague’s foolish son insists on committing the UK to support the Ukraine’s right to self-determination (but not the Crimea’s, which is interesting) and the big, bad Russians call our bluff, I can just see us sailing out to meet the foe with no aircraft carriers, no aircraft to fly from them if we had, an air force now smaller than Luxembourg’s, and an army so depleted and demoralised that it would be hard put to defend the Isle of Wight.

The last time we tried something like that over the Crimea we ended up with The Charge of the Light Brigade. They never learn, do they?

David Fiddimore

Calton Road

Edinburgh