Letters: Cuts in Western defence spending encouraged Putin to invade Ukraine

·9-min read
The Russian president Vladimir Putin - Getty Images
The Russian president Vladimir Putin - Getty Images

SIR – The war in Ukraine represents a failure of Western deterrence. Under-investment in conventional forces by consecutive governments since 1989, together with American strategic impatience, ensured defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Vladimir Putin concluded that the West had neither the stomach nor the capability to challenge him.

Without technologically advanced conventional forces in sufficient quantity, our options are limited to strong language or nuclear war. General Sir Patrick Sanders, the Chief of the General Staff of the British Army, is to be commended for his courage in pointing out our current shortfalls (report, June 30).

The Government was happy to spend £400 billion to paralyse our economy over an illness with a mortality rate of less than 1 per cent. It seems markedly less keen to invest in the tools to deter a nuclear war, with a potential 100 per cent mortality rate.

W J P Hennessy-Barrett
St Martin, Jersey

SIR – The undeniably experienced General Sir Patrick Sanders says that further cuts to Army numbers would be “perverse” – not an ambiguous term. The Prime Minister, with no military standing whatsoever, says a further reduction of 10,000 is fine.

A simple question: which one is right, particularly given the implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? This is probably the most dangerous time for national security for years, but the PM thinks a further reduction of our already inadequate Armed Forces is justified.

Charles Holden
Micheldever, Hampshire

SIR – With Finland and Sweden now set to join Nato (report, June 29) and Ukraine on the path to join the European Union, Mr Putin – the self-styled master strategist – has been completely undone and will hopefully pay for the many war crimes committed on his orders.

General Sir Patrick Sanders and Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, reminded us that we are at a 1937 moment with potential for war in Europe again (report, June 28).

If this is the case, we will once again require the fortitude and sacrifice of the men and women of the British Armed Forces. Let’s hope ministers do not quibble about pay rises. After all, many in the Armed Forces do more and receive significantly less than those who are now striking.

Col Hamish de Bretton-Gordon (retd)
Tisbury, Wiltshire

SIR – Various governments and bodies express their determination to defeat Russia and ensure that Mr Putin pays the price for his atrocities.

These are just words – and increasingly empty ones. No one has defeated a tyrant by speaking to him, and the tragic loss of life and destruction will continue. There may not be the stomach to deal with this and we all may worry about nuclear escalation. But if not now, then when?

Colin Watson
Burghfield Common, Berkshire

Personal preference

SIR – “You’re welcome to close your accounts if you don’t like pronoun badges, Halifax tells customers,” you report (June 30). The Halifax should know that when I was a child I was told by my mother that to refer to a lady as “She” in her presence was very rude.

If I did so, she might retort with the then well-known phrase: “Who’s She, the cat’s mother?”

Stephen Bryan
Brancaster, Norfolk

SIR – I assume, should I work for the Halifax, I could use the pronoun “One” and all its subsequent options.

Nigel Thomas
Elham, Kent

Home education

SIR – Your report on the changes to the Schools Bill (“Nadhim Zahawi U-turns on ‘enormous grab for power’ over schools”, June 30) fails to mention that clause 49 of the Bill singles out home-educating families, requiring them to register and submit to investigation by local authorities. This despite the fact that the Government has no evidence of a systemic problem with home education or that the current laws fail children.

The proposed legislation, which drives a coach and horses through human rights, data protection and equality legislation, has been widely criticised in the House of Lords. One amendment list ran to 60 pages.

This power grab on home-educating families is ideological. Whitehall instinctively distrusts anyone it cannot tag and monitor, and that now extends into the privacy of the family home.

Tristram C Llewellyn Jones
Church Stretton, Shropshire

Babes in the House

SIR – You report (June 30) that Alicia Kearns, the Tory MP for Rutland and Melton, argues that a baby being cared for in the Commons risks distracting MPs. Their mobile phones do a far better job of that than a baby could.

Brian Armstrong
North Shields

High not dry

SIR – It is not just the height of mirrors that is unsettling in lavatories (Letters, June 28), it’s also the positioning of hand dryers. They are often too high, so when drying your hands most of the water runs down your sleeves.

Robert Ward
Loughborough, Leicestershire

Doctors mustn’t strike

SIR – Patients come first. It is against all that I stand for as a doctor to withdraw my services for better remuneration (Letters, June 30).

The British Medical Association is not only asking doctors to go on strike but is also undermining even further public confidence in the profession.

It needs to persist in putting a good case for a reasonable rise, certainly not the 30 per cent reported, and should withdraw the threat of strike action.

Dr René Tayar
Tadworth, Surrey

SIR – The surgery that I use has five partners, seven salaried GPs and looks after 15,500 people. It is closed for an hour each lunch time, and is open a total of 43½ hours a week.

It also provides a restricted non-urgent routine service on two evenings and Saturdays. Home visits are only available for the seriously incapacitated and the surgery’s website currently states: “Due to high demand, the surgery has reached capacity and safe working levels.”

In a recent six-week period GP availability recorded on the surgery’s website shows the 12 GPs worked an average of 11 out of 43½ hours available – 26 per cent of the time. The two full-time GPs worked a minimum of 22 hours and maximum 38 hours while the 10 part-time GPs worked a minimum of 8½ hours and maximum 17 hours. These working hours are indicative of a pattern throughout the United Kingdom, judging by the widespread difficulty in seeing a doctor.

According to the surgery’s website, the GPs’ average salary is £67,471. The NHS provides the surgery with a minimum of £2.7 million a year, which, after £800,000 for GPs’ salaries, leaves £1.9 million for overheads, staff wages and (in addition to their salaries) a partnership share for the five partners.

The self-seeking BMA demand for a 30 per cent increase in GPs’ pay should be seen in this context as unacceptable.

Robin Thompson
Ely, Cambridgeshire

SIR – You report (June 30) that the BMA is to lobby the Government to supply free abortions to American women denied one following the recent ruling by the US Supreme Court. This is the organisation mobilising for a strike of doctors, and whose members have refused to see patients face to face.

That it wants to circumvent rules for foreign patients in order to end human lives free of charge is beyond parody. We are deep into a dystopian society I never thought I would see in Britain.

Dr Chris Topping
Pilling, Lancashire

No BA refund

SIR – Earlier this year my British Airways flight to Belfast was cancelled – three times in succession, as it turned out – and I applied for a refund. The amount involved is some £90.

This must be done by telephone, not by email or online. After countless hours on the telephone and four broken promises, I am still waiting for the credit to my card.

Is my experience unusual?

Louise Stoupe
Hillsborough, Co Down

Tee time

SIR – I see that Rolex watches are in great demand and supply is limited.

I sold mine two years ago at a substantial profit. I now wear a battery golf watch which is more accurate, illuminates at night when I wake up, and tells me how far I am from the deep rough to the green.

Tim Oldfield
Wye, Kent

When thirst collides with the price of a pint

The Gatehouse Public House, Dereham Road, Norwich, Norfolk - The Historic England Archive
The Gatehouse Public House, Dereham Road, Norwich, Norfolk - The Historic England Archive

SIR – Beer was on offer at the Test match at Headingley for £6.10 a pint (Letters, June 29). I declined it.

Malcolm Watson
Ryde, Isle of Wight

SIR – I was charged £6.60 in Tremadog in Wales. I still haven’t got over it, and my wife is fed up with me regaling all and sundry about how outraged I was.

Kev Croot
Colchester, Essex

SIR – I recently purchased a pint of bitter in St David’s for £7.20.

Richard Leeson
Surbiton, Surrey

SIR – Passing through Hull this week I met up with an old friend and we had a pint of Ruddles Best Bitter in the Admiral of the Humber close to the railway station. It was at the amazingly low price of £1.49 a pint.

Bill Mason
Eccleston, Lancashire

Scottish Nationalist lesson from the Protocol

SIR – Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, has asked for a ruling from the Supreme Court on whether her Referendum Bill is within Holyrood’s powers, despite constitutional affairs being reserved to Westminster.

It is curious that the Scottish Nationalists have not made more of the enactment of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The British Government was forced to argue in the Belfast High Court last year that, following the Withdrawal Agreement Act, Article 6 of the Act of Union 1800 no longer applied. This represented a fundamental constitutional change for Northern Ireland, which was never asked for consent, nor was it explicitly voted on in Parliament, yet the judge decided in favour of the Government.

An appeal saw the matter referred to the Supreme Court, which will consider it on November 30. It is conceivable that the Supreme Court could rule the Northern Ireland Protocol to be unlawful.

Scottish Nationalists should have been doing a jig at the ruling in Belfast’s court last year, but then perhaps they would have had to look closely at the damage the Protocol has done to Northern Ireland, not just in trade terms, and think hard about the real consequences of Scottish independence.

Anne Cattermull
London SW17

SIR – Boris Johnson should call Nicola Sturgeon’s bluff and let the whole United Kingdom vote on Scottish independence. Independence will save the cost of supporting Scotland, and the loss of Scottish MPs will probably ensure that Labour never wins again.

As a bonus, Mr Johnson will probably remain Prime Minister.

John Frankel
Kingsclere, Berkshire

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