The situation in Ukraine is distressing for Australians, overwhelmingly so for those with loved ones there. Russia's invasion is an illegal act of aggression that must be condemned. The urgent priority now is to end the fighting and protect innocent lives.
However, several recent letter writers appear to see the situation as no more complex than the work of an evil dictator in Moscow. Such messages suit Western leaders very well, especially those with domestic difficulties, but they do nothing to protect the Ukrainian people. For that, some questions and deeper understanding are needed.
How would the US react if enemy military installations were creeping ever closer to its border and its protestations were ignored? Is continuous NATO expansion wise and in the interests of the Ukrainian people? Does the US history of invasions provide any right for it to preach? None of this makes Russia's invasion anything other than a ruthless criminal act, but context is important if we are to learn any lessons.
There are particular perils in the Ukraine war - 15 operating nuclear power reactors with vast quantities of highly radioactive waste, and nuclear weapons. All the nine nuclear weapons possessing states, and supporters such as Australia, believe that these horrific weapons should be used in some circumstances. Militarism has brought us to a precipice. The world needs urgent action for a ceasefire and peace in Ukraine, and the abolition of nuclear weapons, not hypocrisy and grand-standing.
The Russian invasion caused disbelief and shock that such naked aggression could happen in the modern world. The 21st century wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are today generally regarded as terrible mistakes. The nations are coming together in a cooperative effort to avert the threat of climate change. It seemed that in the modern world a new Age of Reason might be dawning. The invasion of Ukraine seems to belong to another century.
So far the reaction has been strong, universal, and wise. No threats of aggression against the nuclear superpower that is Russia; the only nuclear threats have come from embattled Putin himself. Trudy Rubin (UN's future on the line in Ukraine, February 26) asks the question, should we suspend Russia's membership of the United Nations?
At first this suggestion seems shocking, as the UN in pursuit of peace seeks inclusion to achieve the common purpose. Yet a decision by the UN General Assembly to suspend Russia's membership would be powerful, isolating and putting huge pressure on the Russian leader.
"In the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity". How we react discloses who we are. Much depends on how we face the crisis in Ukraine.
If we didn't already know that Putin was a killer and madman we do now with his killing of innocent people in Ukraine and not too subtle threat of the nuclear option.
While economic sanctions to date are good, all democracies should ban Russia at state and individual level from participation at all global events whether sporting, academic, cultural etc until such time as Ukraine is returned to self-rule as a democracy. Non-Russian participants should boycott these events if a Russian citizen is involved in any way (including tennis).
There is no doubt China is closely monitoring unfolding events as a possible template for any action it may wish to consider taking against Taiwan.
Before Alex Mattea (Letters, February 26) condemns the Ukrainian leadership because many Ukrainians welcomed in the Nazis in 1941, he might consider that these people were labouring under Stalinism, the ideology and policies enforced by Russia's notorious leader, Josef Stalin. Due to his excessively cruel practices, he's often compared to Adolf Hitler. During his rule, millions of people died through execution, starvation and torture.
He should also consider that Ukraine has a democratically elected president of Jewish heritage whose first language was Russian. To say, as Putin did, that this man and his government requires "denazification" sets a new low for Kremlin prevarication.
Ukraine poses no security threat to Russia. None. Neither does NATO.
Putin has confirmed beyond any reasonable doubt that he is a pathological liar as well as a thief, kleptocrat, tyrant, and murderer. For months he has been saying that the Russian forces gathering on Ukraine's borders were not the spearheads of an invasion; now Russia is conducting a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by land, sea, and air.
Putin is taking one huge gamble which I doubt will pay off. In a book on World War II (whose title I have long since forgotten) the author made the point that the Third Reich, when invading Ukraine, blew their chances of success by alienating the Ukrainians, treating them as enemies rather than as potential allies.
The Ukrainians were sick of Stalin by that time and wanted him gone. Instead, the Ukrainians fought.
We don't know at this stage in the conflict just how fiercely the Ukrainians will fight in defence of their homes and land. But I think we can safely assume that Putin has underestimated them, and so the Russian armed forces will underestimate them.
The Russian armed forces will be bloodied in a similar way to both the Russians and the American (plus NATO) in Afghanistan. And when the Russian armed forces are bloodied, Russia's leaders tend to fall. (The Tsar escaped in 1905 because it was only the navy: the Tsar didn't escape in 1917 because it was the army).
I doubt Putin will continue to (dis)grace the international scene for long. I have no idea how they will retire him, but I'm certain they will.
I note that this newspaper allows a lot of pro-Russia and anti-American sentiments to be published in its letters section and in some reports.
The report on the Ukraine peace rally on Saturday noted there was a lone protestor who crossed Canberra Ave to try to provoke participants until the police led him away. The report said he was thought to have made offensive gestures. It would have been better had you accurately reported he was giving the Nazi salute towards protestors who then howled him down with cries of "fascist".
Please don't lean too far one way to try to correct what you might perceive to be a bias against Russia. On this subject, Alex Mattea stated that Ukrainians welcomed Nazi forces as they entered Ukraine. (Letters, February 26). He fails to mention they believed the Nazis were a better option than the Russian communists who oversaw an artificial famine that claimed between six and 12 million Ukrainian lives. Their optimism was dashed as many of them, my parents included, were forced into being slave labourers in Germany.
I am puzzled about suggestions an Australian Labor Party government would be any less capable of managing the defence of our country than a Coalition government. We had Labor governments for most of the periods of the greatest wars in the world's history. There seems to be general agreement that Curtin in particular was a most able war time leader.
For someone who accuses others of twisting history Alex Mattea (Letters, February 26) shows remarkable skills in it himself. He notes that some Ukrainians welcomed the Nazis in 1941, but failed to mention that was just a few short years after Stalin's purges and his policy of manufactured starvation to subjugate the Ukrainian population had resulted in the deaths of millions.
Given the very recent experience and vivid memories it's perhaps no wonder some thought the Germans might be the lesser of two evils. Regardless, none of that provides the slightest justification for Putin today.
Michelle Grattan ("Faraway fight bolsters PM's pitch", February 26, p46) raised the prospect of Scott Morrison's winning an election with a campaign based on the war in Ukraine and issue of national security - what some would call a "khaki election".
Ms Grattan also mentioned issues that could be used to damage the government, such as the rising cost of living, stagnant wage growth and aged care, but there are many other failings that could and should be considered. These include the rampant rorting of public funds to benefit marginal Coalition-held or vulnerable Labor-held electorates; the susceptibility to bribery; and the compulsive lying, which is beginning to threaten Donald Trump's record.
Surely Australian voters have more common sense than to vote to return such a government and its leader to power.
Lots of world leaders can get into a fight, realise they're in trouble and abandon ship. Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine knew Putin was targeting him for death; he told an American who offered him escape "I need ammunition, not a ride". So far in his short career he has stood up to two thugs, Putin and Trump. A great pity he wasn't around to stare down Hitler; he and the Ukrainian people are united in courage.
It is hard for Australia to do something meaningful as a small voice on the far side of the world. Still, every little bit helps. Let's banish the Russian ambassador, take back the embassy and use it as a facility for disadvantaged Ukrainians in Australia.
Australia should support any move to expel Russia from the UN.
Let's hope that the rise on energy prices sparked by the Ukraine invasion gives Australia the opportunity to hike the price of the natural gas we sell to China above the ridiculously low level we agreed to over 20 years ago. What's good for the goose, etc.
George W. invaded a nation without justification.
Bravo Ian Jannaway (Letters, February 26). Now go tell it to the Iraqis.
This is not a "just war".
An expert on post-USSR Russia once said: "Governments change. The lies stay the same". (James Bond in Goldeneye, 1995).
Given the armed citizenry of Ukraine may be forced to conduct a guerrilla resistance against their invaders, it would be most useful for them to receive large numbers of rifle and pistol silencers from their supporters. Nothing is more unpleasant for an occupying force than being constantly fired at from an unknown direction.
There's a well known saying "united we stand, divided we fall". So, why are Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton trying to divide Australia by tearing down a hitherto robust and successful bipartisan approach to national security? Oh, hang on. Could it be this is not about national security at all, but rather their desperate attempt to deflect attention from their many stuff ups in order to win re-election no matter the cost?
I found it very sad that a protester at the recent anti-vaccination, anti-mandate protest in Canberra stated "I've got no job to go back to, no home to go back to" (Letters, February 24). A wealthy country like Australia shouldn't have a resident in such a situation.
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