The first few weeks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine went so badly that it was tempting to see the withdrawal of troops from around Kyiv as the beginning of the end. The loss of the battleship Moskva has humiliated Vladimir Putin further, undermining any lingering hope he may have had of being able to claim total victory in time for Russia’s military celebrations on 9 May.
But it would be a dangerous delusion to think that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is destined to be a failure.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, told the House of Commons that it did not occur to him that the gathering in the Cabinet Room on his birthday (for which he had been issued a fixed-penalty notice) could amount to a breach of the rules on coronavirus. ‘That was my mistake and I apologise for it unreservedly,’ he said. He packed his bags for a visit to India to coincide with a Commons debate on whether he had misled parliament.
As you may have heard (if you haven’t, I’m losing my narcissistically self-promotional touch) my new TV show Piers Morgan Uncensored launches soon and will air daily in the UK, America and Australia, thus fulfilling my long-held ambition to become a global irritant. The title provokes mirth among those who feel I’ve never shown any sign of being censored. But my enforced removal from Good Morning Britain last year for refusing to apologise for an honest opinion that Meghan Markle is to veracity what Vladimir Putin is to humanity was cowardly corporate censorship, and I’m confident that if Princess Pinocchio writes to my new boss Rupert Murdoch demanding my head on a plate – as she did to ITV’s CEO Dame Carolyn McCall – she won’t be quite so successful.
Commentators talk much about the morale of the Ukrainian troops and the edge that this has given them over the Russians, even in a technology-dominated conflict. Ancient warfare was a matter of hand-to-hand fighting, where morale is absolutely crucial – ‘defeat in battle always starts with the eyes’, said Tacitus – and the imperial Roman army offers a masterclass in how to generate it.
That army was, uniquely, professional.
Park the issue
Gladstone Park in Brent may be renamed as a result of the former PM’s connections with slavery. Local children have suggested Multi-Faith Park or Diversity Fields.
– Gladstone often used to stay as a guest of Lord Aberdeen at Dollis Hill House, which is in the park. Lord Rosebery was also a regular guest, as was Lord Randolph Churchill, father of Winston. Mark Twain also stayed. The park was named after Gladstone because when it was purchased for public use in 1899 he had recently died.
Sir: We have heard much over the years from the overseas aid lobby about the value of soft power. Now the chips are down, we see how empty those claims were. Aidan Hartley (‘Russia’s special relationship’, 16 April) outlined how African nations have lined up to support Russia rather than Ukraine or the West, exposing how wasted the UK’s investment in soft power has been. The same applies to aid given to Pakistan and India.