How psychologically well-prepared are we in the West for the consequences of a long, drawn-out conflict in Ukraine? Not very according to Major General Jonathan Shaw, former director of special forces in the British Army. And whatever the headline damage being done to Putin’s forces including a possible retreat from Kyiv, the underlying realities on the ground are more sobering:
“First, the real battles are in the south. The seemingly inevitable fall of Mariupol will release Putin’s southern troops to encircle the best of the Ukrainian forces, the Joint Force Operation, who are holding the Russian army in Donbas. Russian quantity has a quality all of its own. If you deal in mass destruction, tactical incompetence matters less.
Meanwhile, the curse of the 24-hour news cycle is that we can obsess over the dramatic and the visual at the expense of the important. This focus on what is happening on the ground distracts us from the real battle: that of values. Putin believes that the West is morally degenerate, that its support for democratic values is weak, and that its populations are more interested in their quality of life than Ukraine."
We laugh at the cack-handed propaganda being used in Russia towards its own people, but the Western media too is failing adequately to spell out the wider policy implications for all of us at home. For example
“All sanctions create collateral damage and the collateral damage threatened by Western sanctions on Russian exports of energy and food is off the scale. Twenty-three countries in Africa are dependent to some degree on Russian wheat; Benin is 100 per cent reliant.
And the Middle East is threatened with social disorder of a scale not seen since the Arab Spring. China, India and Pakistan have just signed deals with Russia for both energy and food. So for much of the world, the values we uphold are at best secondary or, in the case of China and Modi’s India, irrelevant.
But beneath the facade, how robust are we in support of our own values? So far, the West has talked the talk, but is yet to walk the walk.
Put simply: as long as the West pays Putin $1.1 billion a day for oil and gas, he will continue to judge us weak and spineless, more committed to our standard of living than constraining Russian aggression.”
Are we in the West prepared to go toe-to-toe with Putin in order to defeat him and suck up the pain that goes with it? We need to brace ourselves for a long, hard slog.
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