Ukraine-Russia war fears: MPs are starting to talk like characters from Oh! What a Lovely War – Kenny MacAskill MP

An old Tory buffer spoke in the Commons after a question about Ukraine, making it clear that, for him, the country wasn’t worth the life of one British soldier.

Rada students perform songs from Oh! What A Lovely War at Buckingham Palace (Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire)
Rada students perform songs from Oh! What A Lovely War at Buckingham Palace (Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

It went down like a lead balloon in a chamber where many contributions – not just from Tories but shamefully Labour and even SNP – were more akin to lines from the old hit show, Oh! What a Lovely War.

Now, I’ve no love for Putin. He is a bad man. But the idea that Russia’s the devil incarnate and Ukraine’s an angel is absurd. There are unsavoury forces in Ukraine and the actions even of the government there have often been to block settlements brokered with Russia, rather than accept them.

They’re no innocents in this. Steps have also been taken that are deeply prejudicial to many in east Ukraine who are not only Russophone but ethnically Russian.

It’s a complex situation and not just as the demographics show. This isn’t some 21st century replication of the Soviet invasion of Budapest or Prague. When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, George H W Bush assured Russia that Nato would not advance to surround it.

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But that’s just what’s happened. Not only are states bordering Russia now in Nato, but British and other Nato forces are in the Baltic states, with US involvement in Poland, Georgia and elsewhere. Russia has a right to feel surrounded and having Ukraine join Nato would be the equivalent of Canada joining the Warsaw Pact when it existed.

Invasion is buried deep in the Russian psyche not just Hitler or Napoleon but back to the Mongol hordes. Putin not only has a point, but this plays to his agenda. This justifies and even strengthens him at home.

Moreover, pressurising simply him forces him closer to China. The art of diplomacy should be to divide, not unite, your enemies.

Russia isn’t invading western Europe and whilst actions must be taken to ensure Ukraine’s rights are respected, Ukraine and Nato must act to respect both the rights of ethnic Russians and Russia. A war in Ukraine? Not in my name.

Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian

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