We’ve all been horrified by the nightly news reports from Ukraine. Somehow they’re even worse than the awful pictures from Syria a few years ago: not because the human suffering is any different, of course, but because Russia is directly invading a peaceful democracy, rather than indirectly propping up a dictator in a civil war, and the battlefields are the same places the Nazis fought over 80 years ago. The lessons from history are all too clear: if we don’t teach Putin that aggression doesn’t work, he will keep pushing. The question is how to make sure he loses without sparking World War 3.
That’s why I (and others, to be fair) have been making such a fuss about sanctioning Russian oligarchs. The emergency legislation to set it up is going through Parliament as I write this and, since it’s doing things that I’ve been wanting for years, I hope everyone will understand why it’s important.
The central, crucial point is to show the oligarchs who prop Putin up that war will make them immediately and dramatically poorer. If they and their families can’t spend their cash, board their yachts, live in their posh flats or travel anywhere either, they’ll start to notice the difference pretty soon. For a semi-mafia regime that’s built on networks of favours to oligarchs and cronies who’ve got rich at taxpayers’ expense, being unable to line their pockets could be a death knell.
Economic sanctions aren’t the only weapons, of course. We’re giving the Ukraine Government the defensive weapons they need to destroy Russia’s tanks, artillery and planes, and many other western democracies are doing the same. Last week President Zelenskyy addressed Parliament on a video link, quoting Churchill’s famous ‘we will fight them on the beaches’ speech in the same rooms it was first delivered. The parallels are clear. We must not flinch.UK Parliament Disclaimer: this e-mail is confidential to the intended recipient. If you have received it in error, please notify the sender and delete it from your system. Any unauthorised use, disclosure, or copying is not permitted. This e-mail has been checked for viruses, but no liability is accepted for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this e-mail. This e-mail address is not secure, is not encrypted and should not be used for sensitive data.