Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s legacy may be being revised in films but the shadow of appeasement and war still haunt Europe. The Russian President scents weakness over Ukraine as he seeks to write Ukraine out of the history books. He seems to believe the West is vulnerable and weak. New leaders in America and Germany, a French President facing re-election and a UK Prime Minister who is morally challenged and fighting for his political life, may have led Putin to dismiss any warnings from the West over Ukraine as just not credible. He could also conclude that Ukraine lacks the capability to deter the Russian threat, once the world’s previously third biggest nuclear power unilaterally disarmed.
Putin has to be convinced that any attack on Ukraine will cost him more than he gains. That needs to be communicated through effective sanctions against Putin and his entourage. For a decade London has been the laundromat for Russian dirty money. Russian oligarchs have spread their influence including into our political system. The government has ignored warnings in official reports and legislation has been announced but then not introduced.
Chamberlain played down the Czech crisis as “a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing”. We cannot say that about Ukraine. So now seems like a key moment to stand up to authoritarian states who break both international law and their word, stand by our NATO allies – a military alliance set up by the post-war Labour Government to defend democracy – and stand by the people of Ukraine.