Ukraine War: West's sanctions and weapon supplies will not lead to victory over Vladimir Putin's Russia – Kenny MacAskill MP

There’s been less on our TV screens about the Ukraine war. That’s not just due to the Westminster mayhem but because it’s not going as well as hoped.

Teachers and staff members remove debris in the MV Lomonosov gymnasium in the centre of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, after it was hit by a Russian missile (Picture: Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images)
Teachers and staff members remove debris in the MV Lomonosov gymnasium in the centre of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, after it was hit by a Russian missile (Picture: Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images)

The Ukrainians are getting ground down and news coverage is about heroic defence by Ukrainian troops and Russian atrocities against civilians. No doubt both are true, but it doesn’t solve the problem of Russia simply grinding them down. Luhansk, now Donetsk and then the rest of the Donbas.

Ukrainian soldiers’ courage alone won’t stop that, and sophisticated Nato weaponry can bleed the Russians but not stop them.

What then of sanctions? Well, they’ve impacted on some Russian oligarchs and undoubtedly had some effect on Russia itself. But they’re no more going to work than the military strategy.

As TV coverage has lessened, it’s also the case that reporting on it depends through whose lens you watch it. Whilst there’s rightly little sympathy for Russia anywhere, the outrage felt by the West isn’t shared in many other countries.

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Some of that’s doubtless Iraq and the history of empires but also no doubt just little interest. No wonder that, despite supposedly global sanctions, China’s happily buying Russian gas and Indian refineries are awash with Russian fuel.

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Russia has been driven to, and now chosen to, look east. A replication perhaps of the Old Silk Road or the new Chinese ‘Belt and Road’. But there are plenty economies there and elsewhere in the world willing to trade with them. Indeed, Dmitry Trenin, a key Russian foreign policy advisor and viewed until recently as one more liberal in the elite, made that clear in recent statements.

It’s not just China and India that they’re now looking to but Turkey, Iran and other lands, to the east and south. The view there on the Ukraine war’s vastly different from Europe’s. There’s a likelihood that, as with the war, sanctions will become a slugfest, but Russia will transition its trade.

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Where does that leave Ukraine? Will the Donbas just lie devastated behind a new Iron Curtain? It’s certainly beginning to look that way and that’s before a cold winter sees EU countries come under pressure to ease sanctions. The economic strategy seems as bereft as the military one. Poor Ukraine, deluded by false and self-serving elites in the West. We need peace now.

Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian

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