Russia's war on Ukraine: Horrific prospect of victory for Vladimir Putin should galvanise support for Ukraine in the West – Scotsman comment

Imagine Vladimir Putin standing triumphant amid the ruins of Kyiv’s Independence Square, basking in the adulation of a crowd of hand-picked, far-right nationalists, who chant his name as they celebrate Russia’s victory over Ukraine.

Putin, whose grip on power is now absolute, tells his flag-waving supporters, bussed in for the occasion, that the reunification of the former Soviet Union has only just begun and he will act decisively to “protect” Russian-speakers in other “fake countries”. This victory, he says, is over Nato, not Ukraine, and shows that no one can stand up to the might of his “glorious” military machine.

A parade of impeccably drilled soldiers goosesteps through the square, led pointedly by mobile nuclear-missile launchers as the crowd is whipped up into a frenzy that makes everyone taking part feel as if they are invincible. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is said to be in prison, awaiting a show trial. And tensions are growing on the borders of Nato members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, where already there have been claims of territorial incursions by both sides.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

By raising such a horrific vision of the future – one reminiscent of the infamous photographs of Adolf Hitler in Paris in 1940 – we do not mean to encourage defeatism. Quite the reverse. Despite Ukraine’s recent successes on the battlefield, it is still locked in a struggle for its very survival with a formidable enemy. The world’s democracies must guard against any sense of complacency about just how dangerous the situation remains and what could happen if the West fails to provide sufficient support.

Military planners in Nato countries should be working hand in hand with the Ukrainian armed forces to ensure they have all the weapons and equipment necessary to defend themselves. The fact that Zelensky had to appeal for “ammunition, ammunition, ammunition" during his recent tour of Europe suggests either that this is not happening or that the necessary logistics system is still not in place.

Ukraine also needs financial support. While the UK has been struggling economically because of the high price of energy and the cost-of-living crisis, our troubles in no way compare to the suffering of the Ukrainian people – the loss of tens of thousands of lives, injuries to many more, and the forced flight of millions of refugees. Its economy has also been devastated; experts estimate Ukraine's GDP fell by a third in 2022, while the cost of rebuilding towns and cities devastated by Russian shells and missiles is likely to run into hundreds of billions of pounds.

It is a sign of Ukrainians’ resolve that they have already rebuilt some buildings destroyed in the war, with photographs from Getty Images showing a block of flats in Kyiv in March last year with a wall blown off, exposing the rooms behind, and the same building this month, fully repaired and pristine – a beacon of hope.

The world’s democracies must demonstrate similar resolve not to allow Putin to succeed in his attempt to destroy Ukraine. Contemplating a Russian victory should galvanise support in the West for Zelensky and his fellow citizens for that reason alone. No one should be forced to live under such a bloodthirsty and cruel tyrant.

A Ukrainian soldier flashes a V-for-victory sign during the defence of Kyiv in March last year (Picture: Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)A Ukrainian soldier flashes a V-for-victory sign during the defence of Kyiv in March last year (Picture: Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian soldier flashes a V-for-victory sign during the defence of Kyiv in March last year (Picture: Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)

And their struggle matters not just to Ukraine but the world as a whole. Putin’s clear ambition is to rebuild the Soviet empire and he will not stop at Kyiv. Furthermore, as Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said recently: “If President Putin wins in Ukraine, this would send a message that authoritarian regimes can achieve their goals through brute force. This is dangerous. Beijing is watching closely. And learning lessons that may influence its future decisions.”

We may not be actually fighting, but Ukraine’s cause is our cause and their war is our war. Slava Ukraini.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.