I seem to always agree with Christopher Booker:
Quite one of the oddest and most frightening stories of the year has been the ludicrous and persistent misrepresentation in the West of the reason for the tragic shambles unfolding over Russia and Ukraine.
This has been presented as wholly the fault of the Russian “dictator” Vladimir Putin, compared by Hillary Clinton and the Prince of Wales to Hitler, for his “annexing” of Crimea and for fomenting the armed uprising in eastern Ukraine. Almost entirely blotted out has been the key part played in triggering this crisis by the remorseless urge of the EU to draw the cradle of Russian identity into its own empire.
It was entirely predictable that Russia and the ethnic Russians of eastern Ukraine would respond as they have done. So, too, was the wish of the vast majority of Crimeans, 82 per cent of them Russian speakers, to rejoin the country of which they were part for most of two centuries – let alone Russia’s reaction to the prospect of seeing their warm-water ports taken over by Nato.
The real significance of this unholy mess is that it marks the moment when the remorseless expansionism of the EU, founded to eradicate nationalism, finally ran into that implacable sense of national identity personified, for all his failings, by President Putin.
He and his people may now be paying a terrible price. But there was no way that poking the Russian bear like this, with such silly boasts as David Cameron’s declaration that he wished to see “Europe stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals”, would not arouse just such a reaction. As I wrote last March, the EU’s reckless bid to absorb Ukraine will eventually be seen as as much an act of fateful self-delusion as its equally reckless launch of the euro…
And quite often with Peter Hitchens too (writing last December):
…I seem surrounded by people who actively want a war with Russia, a war we all might lose. They seem to believe that we are living in a real life Lord Of The Rings, in which Moscow is Mordor and Vladimir Putin is Sauron. Some humorous artists in Moscow, who have noticed this, have actually tried to set up a giant Eye of Sauron on a Moscow tower.
We think we are the heroes, setting out with brave hearts to confront the Dark Lord, and free the saintly Ukrainians from his wicked grasp.
This is all the most utter garbage. Since 1989, Moscow, the supposed aggressor, has – without fighting or losing a war – peacefully ceded control over roughly 180 million people, and roughly 700,000 square miles of valuable territory.
The EU (and its military wing, Nato) have in the same period gained control over more than 120 million of those people, and almost 400,000 of those square miles.
Until a year ago, Ukraine remained non-aligned between the two great European powers. But the EU wanted its land, its 48 million people (such a reservoir of cheap labour!) its Black Sea coast, its coal and its wheat.
So first, it spent £300 million (some of it yours) on anti-Russian ‘civil society’ groups in Ukraine.
Then EU and Nato politicians broke all the rules of diplomacy and descended on Kiev to take sides with demonstrators who demanded that Ukraine align itself with the EU.
Imagine how you’d feel if Russian politicians had appeared in Edinburgh in September urging the Scots to vote for independence, or if Russian money had been used to fund pro-independence organisations.
Then a violent crowd (20 police officers died at its hands, according to the UN) drove the elected president from office, in violation of the Ukrainian constitution.
A year ago, there was just one potential flashpoint with Russia: Ukraine. Now there are two: Ukraine and Syria. What happens when a US warplane is shot down over Syria by a Russian surface-to-air missile? Particularly if the US president is Hillary Clinton (who has compared Putin to Hitler).
Oddly enough, I’d be less concerned if the US president was Donald Trump.
With the Syrian regime in peril, Putin began his effort to help Assad take the fight to the rebels. Most of the mainstream presidential candidates opposed Putin’s actions.
But Trump has, in effect, offered to hold his coat as he fights it out with the Syrian rebels.
I gather that inside the Beltway this is considered a shocking position.
But I have yet to meet a single conservative here in New Jersey who wasn’t happy to hear that Putin was prepared to put boots on the ground where we Americans certainly don’t want to tread.
Or if the next UK prime minister was Boris Johnson:
Am I backing the Assad regime, and the Russians, in their joint enterprise to recapture that amazing site? You bet I am. That does not mean I trust Putin, and it does not mean that I want to keep Assad in power indefinitely. But we cannot suck and blow at once.
The best thing would be a coalition of Russia, USA, Britain, and France ridding Syria of the Islamic State, returning Syrian refugees from Europe, and staying on to oversee the emergence of a democratic Syria.
But a great many people still see Russia through Cold War eyes. For them, the Cold War never ended. And Ukraine and Syria are simply new arenas in which to conduct that war. And so for every one Donald Trump or Boris Johnson, there seem to be ten unreconstructed cold warriors in Europe and the USA.