Walking around London this lunchtime with my family, my stomach tightened as it struck me that we may conceivably now be sliding towards a war with Russia. A war with consequences that could end up destroying everything we value. Not physical assets – they can be replaced – but those we love and hold dear.
The poverty of the West’s response to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine is breathtaking. Sanctions are announced, then re-announced, in the hope that perhaps the crisis on our borders may just resolve itself, with Putin deciding he has tweaked our tail enough. Such an outcome, however desirable, is pie in the sky.
Let’s be clear that Putin holds the West, its leaders and its values in contempt. We are weak; he is strong. We want to accommodate; he wants to dominate. He is surrounded by cronies and gangsters, a number of whom want to test NATO’s resolve by invading a Baltic state such as Latvia or Estonia. His testosterone-fuelled inner circle, having successfully stolen and murdered their way to fortunes, now want to replicate this success on a larger stage.
And our response? A rapid reaction force of 4,000. Yes, four thousand troops to stave off potential invasion. Perhaps it would have been better if our leaders had said nothing instead of showing such a lack of resolve.
Meanwhile, appeasers and apologists take to our domestic airwaves to explain away Russia’s actions. They seem to have forgotten that history does not reflect kindly on those who sought to justify the actions of Nazi Germany in the run-up to 1939. Even worse is the odious propaganda of Russia Today, that dreadful organ of Putin’s Kremlin.
Regardless of the impact on our economy, Putin must be stopped and his country returned to the iciest of iceboxes. The assets of the oligarchs must be confiscated in London, New York, Paris and beyond. NATO must stop talking in terms of thousands of troops and start talking about tens of thousands. The communiqué from this week’s summit must state in unambiguous terms that any Russian tank, muzzle or boot that so much as strays into a NATO country will be immediately liquidated.
The threat from Russia is why NATO came into being and why this mutual guarantee of defence remains so necessary. The first duty of each nation state that comprises NATO is to protect its citizens. This comes before any other matter of domestic interest, be it health, welfare or wealth creation. A failure to act now could have cataclysmic consequences. Dealing with Russia is the burden the West must once again learn to carry.
Charles Walker is the Conservative MP for Broxbourne