“I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. But perhaps there is a key – that key is Russian national interest.”
Winston Churchill, October 1938
The Ukraine crisis started with differences, which became a conflict, which became a war, and which now risks becoming total war.
Churchill, who was undoubtedly one of the first international statesmen to recognise the post-war threat posed by the USSR, (and who coined the phrase “An iron curtain has descended across Europe” also wrote concerning Joseph Stalin’s tightening of his grip on the eastern half of the Europe that, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”
What then of President Putin? In his zeal to restore Russia to prominence, he surely does not want a return to the days of communistic collectivism – but he does want the pyramid of power with his own position firmly at the top of it.
Amongst many key developments within the past week:
Lithuania’s president, Dalia Grybauskaite, declared that Russia was “practically at war with Europe”. The Polish foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, tweeted: “If it sounds like a war, if it kills like a war, it is a war.”
Poroshenko said: “We are hoping that in the very next days, starting from Monday, we can demonstrate real progress in the peace negotiations. Why? Because we are too close to the border where from there would be no return to the peace plan. “Thousands of the foreign troops and hundreds of the foreign tanks are on the territory of Ukraine. There is a very high risk, not only for peace and stability for Ukraine, but for the whole peace and stability of Europe.” Many are saying this is a last ditch attempt to avert a major escalation of the war. Humanly speaking, or rather, in the light of what has happened at similar junctures in the past, the chances are not looking good. But let’s join together in praying not only for the conference in Minsk but for all that happens in the immediate days ahead.