Ukraine needs a winter peace drive as casualties mount and economy is trashed – Kenny MacAskill

There’s undoubtedly great truth in the heroism of Ukrainian troops and their people.

A man pushes his bike on a snow-covered street next to destroyed residential buildings in Borodyanka, near Kyiv, earlier this month (Picture: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images)
A man pushes his bike on a snow-covered street next to destroyed residential buildings in Borodyanka, near Kyiv, earlier this month (Picture: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images)

But there’s a limit to what can be sustained or endured. It’s one thing for President Volodymyr Zelensky to be bullish, it’s quite another for front-line soldiers to sustain their morale or a people survive the civic catastrophe that has befallen that land.

It’s also quite another for politicians in other lands whose soldiers aren’t dying and whose people aren’t freezing to be cheerleaders for a conflict where the price is being paid. It’s why the talk of overtures for peace must be an opportunity seized as both sides settle down for winter.

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Talk from ebullient Tory MPs and other vociferous advocates of war is of a spring offensive that will finally liberate Ukraine and bring down Putin. Whilst both those things might be welcome there are other scenarios not least a Third World War and Armageddon.

But, more importantly, there’s the collapse of Ukraine, whatever may be said by their president. We’re getting a highly sanitised perspective through the western lens. Read the information from other sources, whether from Asia or even within America and you get quite a different picture.

I recently saw coverage of Ukraine acknowledging 10,000 to 13,000 combat deaths. There's evidence from the EU and American military that the death toll far higher than that. Whatever the figure, it's a tragedy and Ukraine is smaller than Russia and less able to sustain the mutual carnage.

Compounding the casualties is the economic and social collapse in that land. A third of the population has fled or been displaced: 6.5 million in Ukraine and eight million elsewhere in Europe. Not all the latter figure will be women and kids. As many Russians have shown they won’t die for Putin’s war, there’ll be young men in Ukraine who think there’s better things to do in life than dying on the front.

Nato may be fuelling the war machine but the infrastructure’s being destroyed by Russia. Ukraine’s economy is reckoned to have shrunk by a third and GDP has gone through the floor. Rebuilding will take years and requires peace. It’s why rather than a spring war offensive, we require a winter peace drive.

Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian

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