However, the Kremlin’s complaints about ‘Nato expansionism’ were little more than an excuse for Putin to launch a war of aggression and conquest in the style of any number of similar tyrants, ever-thirsty for power and glory, from throughout history. It deserved the same consideration as the obviously false claim that Russia’s “special military operation” was necessary to “denazify” its democratic neighbour – none at all.
Ukraine was attacked because Putin wrongly thought it was weak and would be easily overcome. He would not have started this war if Ukraine had been in Nato and the thousands of people who have lost their lives, on both sides, would still be alive today.
Predictably, the Kremlin responded to remarks by Finland’s leaders that the country should apply for Nato membership “without delay” with typical threats to take “retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature”, claiming Russia’s national security was at risk.
But Finland is hardly going to invade Russia, and Nato has shown that it is not willing to intervene militarily in Ukraine, despite the mass shelling of cities and slaughter of civilians, because it does not want direct conflict with Russian forces, which would risk a Third World War. So it’s not going to invade either.
Putin is whipping up fear of an outside enemy in order to try to keep his country united behind him and justify his campaign of mass murder.
As Boris Johnson rightly said yesterday, Putin has “grossly violated human rights, international law; he's guilty of absolutely barbaric onslaught on a totally innocent country” and any attempt to normalise relations with his regime would be a serious mistake.
The UK Government’s decision to sign mutual security pacts with Sweden and Finland was also the correct one, offering a Nato-style commitment to come to their aid. Until both countries’ come under the formal protection of the Nato umbrella, other member states should do the same.
Nato is not threatening war, but helping to keep the peace. Putin is the warmonger, the child-killer, and his lies can never hide that.