Alex Massie Alex Massie

The west has a choice: abandon Ukraine or punish Russia? It should choose the latter.

An astonishing number of useless twits appear to think Russia’s annexation of the Crimea is somehow not Vladimir Putin’s fault. The poor Russia despot – no longer much too strong a term, by the way – is not responsible for his actions. He was provoked!

Not simply by the Ukrainians, who should, it is implied, have known better, but by the west. It’s our fault and Putin is simply acting logically and rationally. He has every right to reassert Russia’s ancient prerogatives and if we hadn’t penned him into a corner he wouldn’t have needed to at all.

Twaddle of course but the kind of stuff that’s not hard to find. Plenty of people – by no means confined to those you would not expect to know better – appear to be swallowing this nonsense. This is not a matter of right or left since you can find MPs from all quarters prepared to give Putin’s absurd “referendum” some credence. Meanwhile, the anti-EU monomaniacs are happy to blame the crisis on Brussels and quietly – or not so quietly in fact – are thrilled to see someone tell the EU where to shove its (supposed) expansionary dreams.  If that means cheering on Putin then so be it. Any ally in a storm.

Another theory asks us to believe Putin’s invasion and annexation of the Crimea was forced upon him by the west’s expansion into Russia’s sphere of influence. We should never have offered Ukraine any kind of guarantee. We should not have extended Kiev any kind of friendly hand. We certainly should not have allowed former members of the Warsaw Pact the opportunity to join NATO. By doing so we provoked Russia. What else would we expect? It’s all our fault.

Of course Russia has no security concern in the Crimea. It was not threatened, nor were the rights or safety of ethnic Russians on the peninsula.

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