Letters: The Russian ogre, the West, and Ukraine: a fairy tale for today

·7-min read
Calls have been made for President Putin to be indicted on war crimes, but what about western actions in Afghanistan?
Calls have been made for President Putin to be indicted on war crimes, but what about western actions in Afghanistan?

CAN it only be nine months since the fall of Kabul to the Taliban after 20 years of illegal invasion by NATO forces led by the USA – an invasion justified by the lie that the Taliban were implicit in 9/11?

Have we forgotten the bombing of wedding parties, schools and hospitals by the US? (“Accidental”, unlike deliberate Russian actions in Ukraine, of course). Have we forgotten rendition and the mass torture chamber of Guantanamo?

We have now turned a blind eye to Afghanistan, a country left behind and facing mass starvation. Criminally, the USA is keeping half that impoverished country’s gold reserves for itself.

Have we forgotten the US/UK invasion of Iraq under the equally mendacious pretext of seeking WMDs, when the real objective was to secure control of Iraq’s oil?

Have we blanked out the torture of prisoners by the USA at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, and the extra- judicial killing of captive and civilians by US and UK forces which remain unpunished, as we now sanctimoniously accuse the Russians of identical actions?

Most of all, as the media and politicians call for Putin to be indicted for war crimes (but not, of course, the far-right Ukranian Azov Legion, which is undoubtedly guilty of such), have we forgotten that the proponents of “our” wars, Blair and Bush, remain unpunished for their crimes?

Some half-million civilians were killed in Iraq, many in the ‘Shock and Awe’ bombing campaign which, 20 years later, still leaves much Iraqi infrastructure unable to function.

Are we now to believe that these same Nato/US/UK forces have turned into knights in shining armour coming to the aid of “gallant little Ukraine”, faced with an attack by the ogre of Putin’s Russia? It is a fairy tale for children.

One condemns Putin’s invasion in the same way as one does the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan – but US-led NATO is, for economic and political reasons, pursuing the replacement of Russian oil and gas in the European market with their American equivalents.

It is also seeking the further weakening and encirclement of Russia, a policy NATO has pursued since it was established.

This is a NATO proxy war, where the Ukraine will be devastated, Russia weakened and NATO – at least in the medium term – strengthened, as it fights to the last Ukrainian.

As is becoming clear despite wishful thinking to the contrary, Ukraine cannot win this war without direct NATO intervention, which would mean a nuclear war.

The only solution to avoid prolonging this agony is a peace conference which establishes the right to an independent and neutral Ukraine, with the population of the Donbass (in a UN-supervised plebiscite), given the choice of whether they wish to belong to Russia or to Ukraine.

Ian R Mitchell, Glasgow.




MARK Smith (“The latest ‘unionist pact’ is a positive sign for Scotland”, May 23) might like to know that from 2007 to 2011 the SNP was in coalition with the Lib Dems on the City of Edinburgh Council and in coalition with Labour from 2012 to 2022, two full electoral terms.

The deal in South Lanarkshire Mr Smith mentions, by-passing the SNP, indicates not maturity but calculation by Labour at UK level.

The SNP/Labour coalitions over the 10-year period were stable and effective, despite what political opponents feel bound to say to the contrary. What has apparently changed is Labour’s view of a coalition with the SNP.

It is here that UK politics have intruded. It was common enough for it to be said in council debates (I was an SNP councillor throughout this period) that we left the constitutional issue “at the front door”.

Labour’s shying away from another coalition in Edinburgh is surely based on its consideration of the next UK general election, when any working with the SNP will be taken to be electorally damaging, particularly as described by a stridently Tory press.

What would again be the most logical outcome after this month’s local election in Edinburgh is hostage to UK-level, never mind Scottish-level, political calculation.

This is what gets in the way of the political maturity that Mr Smith wants to see.

Alasdair Rankin, Edinburgh.




I AM not a professor, just a simple surveyor. I suppose I could add FRICS to my name as I am entitled to do, and that might give me the gravitas to make my comments more believable. Unlikely.

So Professor Wardle’s letter (May 24), when you get down to it, is just a moan about the SNP. His comment about seeking an administration “that is competent, accountable and capable of encouraging economic growth” rings true, but for all governments, especially Westminster. Why stop at the SNP?

Also, in a broad letters page yesterday we had Donald Lewis comparing his company’s boards to an elected government.

I think the reality is that the controls and decision-making of a commercial board of management cannot be compared to the public accountability of a political government – nor should it.

I finish with John Milne’s letter which made complete sense until his last paragraph: “by all means criticise the obvious incompetence of the SNP” (my italics).

A good important point washed away by the very bias that prevents “political maturity”.

Ken Mackay, Netherlee, Glasgow.



I WILL not attempt to refute Professor William Wardle’s letter to the length at which he writes.

He makes many assertions which, I suspect, display his prejudices rather than his understanding of the actual state of Scotland’s politics, economy and potential future.

“Facts are what they are and should be capable of shaping judgement” he writes.

Robert Burns put it much better when he wrote; “facts are chiels that winna ding and downa be disputed”.

However, if I had even a millionth part of the genius of Burns I would, perhaps, have been able to come up with a line that suggested that "facts and assertions are different things and downa be conflated".

John Jamieson, Ayr.




LISTENING to Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Féin vice-president, on BBC Radio 4 yesterday morning, I was struck by the similarity in her approach and Nicola Sturgeon’s to their respective UK break-up ambitions.

Both seemingly want to keep the constitutional debate front of stage, essentially to moan on about their relationship with Westminster, while not risking a referendum that each could very easily lose.

Both also are very focused on Boris Johnson, undoubtedly a Marmite figure, ignoring that the personality, or even possibly the actions, of the prime minister du jour are largely irrelevant when dealing with the interwoven relationships between nations going back hundreds of years.

Sturgeon is longer in the tooth in a leadership position largely focused on anti-UK rhetoric. So she’s obliged to claim she wants to hold a referendum next year, to try to keep her endlessly patient followers supporting her – yet most of us know all that she wants is to pick a fight with Johnson over whether she’s allowed to hold a referendum, and relish being denied one.

So should we expect much gurning about the constitution over the coming years from Sinn Féin and the SNP, but little action?

Martin Redfern, Melrose, Roxburghshire.




THE Northern Research Group of Tory MPs are demanding a “minister for the North”. We in Scotland could give them Alister Jack, as he in both invisible and, as far as can be ascertained, has done nothing of note for Scotland.

The North of the great country of England should also suit him better as he is on record as claiming that Scotland is not a national entity (one of Europe’s oldest), but is only a “regional variation”, to the north of the North.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.



THE publication of the delayed Partygate report is nothing but another grey day for UK democracy. Unlike many, I care not a jot whether Sue Gray’s report further muddies the muddiest of politically polluted waters or tells us what we already know. We are ruled by a liar whose only consideration is what is best for himself.

What I care about is that another day goes by when public attention is diverted from real issues such as growing poverty, pollution (and the deepening climate crisis) and the – as yet – not fully realised economic harm of Brexit. Anyway you cook it, it’s a win for Johnson.

Amanda Baker, Edinburgh.

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