As Putin continues his descent into public madness, one must begin to wonder exactly what world leaders intend to do about it beyond having taxpayers flood the internet with images of them stood sombrely before country flags, or lighting up our buildings with colours. Will the countries who foisted nuclear disarmament on Ukraine help them in their hour of need, or are we such that abiding by our very word is something we cannot trust?
When the Soviet Union collapsed on 26th December 1991, Ukraine was in possession of the third largest nuclear stockpile in the world. From 1994 and the start of the Nuclear Non Proliferation treaty talks, discussions were had with successor states from the Soviet Union and the elected leaders to convince them that nuclear disarmament would mean true security and peace. These talks were spearheaded by Russia, the UK and the US.
Promises were made that if Ukraine surrendered its nuclear armaments, I.E let them be absorbed by Russia, who promised to dismantle them and discard safely the uranium etc that each warhead composed, they would receive protection and financial restitution. The US also helped to ratify the start treaty, and to safely dismantle Ukraine’s nuclear capabilities, all the while promising safety for the country for it’s compliance.
To understand the depths of the betrayal by Russia, one must only google the Budapest Memorandum: the U.S., and the U.K. agreed to respect the “independence and sovereignty and existing borders of Ukraine” after the country agreed to give up its nuclear stockpile. Ukraine was also promised that its territorial integrity and political independence will be maintained and that the signatories will not use economic coercion against Ukraine to their own advantage.
Russia has committed unforgivable breaches of the accords and guidance it has signed to respect Ukraine: this is even more serious than a straightforward declaration of war, it is the disrespect of hard-fought legislation that ensured that this situation would never occur. Russia’s Putin has always been the strong-man that idle thumb twiddlers Johnson and Trump want to be, and this is the behaviour of one such as he: breaking accords that were hewn in stone before he ascended to power and crippled Russian freedoms further.
But let’s look to the other two main signatories of the accords, and start breaking down why our response so far has been gallingly lacklustre.
The President: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it...The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/25/us/politics/trump-ukraine-transcript.html Part of Trump’s attempt to extort newly elected Zelenskyy
The US President, Donald Trump, was accused of Economically coercing Ukraine in the encroaching Russian skirmishes on its borders and this led to his first impeachment. President Zelenskyy was the height of polite when dealing with Trump and his “if you do what we want we’ll give you the aid we promised you” – tantamount to extortion. The US president had no right whatsoever to force Zelenskyy’s hand- the US OWED Ukraine those weapons without strings. The dilution of serious political discourse means that, not once during his trial, were these accords, promises or the legislation signed mentioned, legislation that meant that they were bound with no strings whatsoever, no delays, to give Ukraine arms to defend their sovereignty.
The UK’s role in failing Ukraine
When it comes to UK involvement, it should have started in 2014 when Russia originally started to encroach on Ukraine but was the usual copper shilling talk of collaboration and assistance, all wooden words and no substance. As escalation continued to the point that Ukraine were requesting arms and armament to defend their borders they were failed by a UK too wrapped up on claiming it’s own imagined sovereignty from its fellow EU collaborators to assist, the sleeve pulling of your friend trying to attract your attention for something important as you discuss something noncommittal. Our refusal to enmire ourselves in international relations again failed when the UK prime minister never once mentioned the Budapest Memorandum in response to the US president’s deceitful behaviour towards Ukraine.
All of these four disparate strings lead us to now. As Russia’s hand is around the throat of Ukraine and Ukraine fights back relentlessly to loosen it’s fingers, the US and UK can be found offering sanctions to Russia and… what else?
Of course, those quick to temper will ask whether I want us to leap in and begin the world war proper and the answer to that is, obviously not. But let me tell you that the actions taken are nothing- nothing to what was promised to Ukraine if they followed along with nuclear disarmament.
We also seem to be hitting the wrong people in the chest with whatever punches thrown: Anti Russian sentiment has swept the UK, with many people forgetting that some people left Russia to avoid the black cloth of Putin’s ever more sinister regime. Those linked to Putin’s Russia and Russia themselves should of course be sanctioned with the heaviest barriers possible to levy punishment upon the Russian oligarchs powering this war including Putin himself. And when it comes to sanctions, a worrying lackadaisicality seems to permeate the messages from Westminster: had we been in lockstep with the EU it’s possible that we’d have done real, speedy damage to the Putin regime and Russian actions towards Ukraine. Instead we have our foreign secretary desperate to play dress-up at every given opportunity.
Liz Truss has been using the forment of war to sell herself as the next Iron Lady, forgetting perhaps that she’s more akin to a warm slice of processed cheese than any type of metal. Truss’ insistence on being photographed in tanks, with Russian fur hats and stood proudly in front of flags whilst foreign diplomats call her thinks akin to stupid or a warmonger are truly a deep look into a rotten cabinet: filled with the maggots of Johnson’s political punditry and the sycophants working to hold the shaking wood up as it continues it’s slow motion crumble to the floor.
Truss’ stupidity has been aired for the world to see as, due to her idiotic commentary, Russia stepped up it’s readiness to deploy nuclear retaliation: if ever there was a sign that she is out of her depth it is this.
Then we come to Priti Patel, Home Secretary whose current role should solidly revolve around ways to waive visa restrictions on Ukrainian refugees. Patel linked an article recently on her twitter, clearly fervently hoping that the last bastions of conservative supporters wouldn’t read and only mindlessly cheer at her efforts to help Ukranians: the literature linked proved that the UK is doing less than nothing, including (as later defended in a now deleted tweet by Patel’s colleague)… offering fruit picking visas or allowing people with family in the UK to flee.
In all it appears the UK will offer 100,000 Ukrainians the “right” of abode in the uk. Ukraine has a population of 44.13 million people.
Countries like Ireland have thrown open their doors. EU member states are negotiating swift action to allow Ukrainians to enter their countries. The UK is asking, “Well what can you do for us while you’re here”.
And at the head of the rotten snake that is UK government, Boris Johnson.
We’ve seen for ourselves the depths Johnson will go to in his desperation to distance himself from the dirty actions and money that so motivates his party: changing parliamentary rules to allow his fellows to keep their lucrative second jobs recommending companies who were ill equipped to give diagnostics during the pandemic, protecting a health secretary who was sleeping with an appointee to his team and is now on some ill advised sympathy tour. Johnson has utterly besmirched international relations: promising to lay down the worst of sanctions and barely scratching the surface and as always cosplaying the concerned leader as he flits from country to country, dishevelled and heavy breathing down the mic as terrified journalists beg us for help.
I’m not a diplomat, nor am I a politician. But I am an Englishman and I was told from day 1 at my grandfather (a deeply, deeply patriotic man) that we would always do what is right and abide by our words with deeds.
We promised years ago that we would assist Ukraine in maintaining it’s sovereignty: we are failing.
We promised protection for those from Ukraine: we are failing.
Our predecessors would reel in shame
The Brits of the past who are so often dredged up by anti maskers or by those telling us we need to face poverty and hunger with blitz spirit, would be even more ashamed of our shambolic response to the Russian encroachment on Ukrainian territory than they would be of our glib sublimation to a government who, last night, stripped us of the right to “protest loudly”. A peoples who promised to work collaboratively with another nation to keep it safe and prosperous has been too busy negotiating it’s way out of the extrication of the EU bloc at our own cost.
The EU seems united in it’s efforts to defeat the enemy of Putin. The UK’s populace is still reeling from the survival of a PM who couldn’t follow the law, still arguing about whether you can call yourself the best country in the world if 13% of the population is paid below the minimum salary for survival. But as the UK continues it’s now fully wilful descent into the quagmire of plainly Putin enabled corruption pouring sinuously across the floors of Westminster, one must wonder: if we don’t abide by the accords we sign, accords that do not weather or change with time or with EU status- what do we abide by? What are we? And is this- corrupt, lazy and poor- the legacy of Britain under Johnson?
Forget not, of course, that this is the government who can’t even follow its own manifesto promises: “the cost of covid” they say, trusting in a populace too beaten down by years of nationalistic jingoism to realise that all of the covid debt has been repurchased and isn’t actual debt in the pockets of the nation. Johnson can’t be trusted to adhere to the promises that let him ascend to the highest office, nor to the litigation he seconded for our “new relationship” with the EU member states.
Do we truly believe that he can be trusted to lend aid to an ally who we were bound in honour and duty to assist? And if not: how do we ensure we do what is right by our friends and fellows abroad in spite of a man in charge who we as a populace, cannot trust to do the right and honourable thing? If we cannot trust in our government to abide by long agreed promises, how can we trust them to do right by us? The answer, I fear, is that we cannot.
Daviemoo is a 34 year old independent writer, radicalised into blogging about the political state of the world by Brexit and the election of serial failures like Trump and Johnson. Please check out the rest of the blog, check out Politically Enraged, the podcast available on all streaming platforms and share with your like minded friends! Also check him out on ko-fi where you can keep him caffeinated whilst he writes.