I am currently having an email exchange with my MP about the Ukraine conflict. I have been intending to write something on this for some time, as several people have said they do not really know much about it. I do not pretend to know everything, but I live with a Russian who was born there, whose mother is originally from what is now Ukraine and whose family is living in Lugansk. Naturally he is concerned about his Ukrainian cousins. At the times when it has been possible, he has been in direct communication with them.
I suspect I would be breaking some law if I put my MP’s replies on here, so I won’t. But I think it will be obvious what they were from my answers. Here is my first mail.
In today’s Guardian I read the following comments made by David Cameron in relation to the conflict in Ukraine.
“We have got the intelligence, we have got the pictures and the world knows that. Sometimes people don’t want to see that but that is the fact.”
When will he be publishing the intelligence and the pictures of the Buk missile that shot down MH17 last July?
“If there was major further incursion by Russian-backed forces and effectively Russian forces into Ukraine, we should be clear about what that is. That is trying to dismember a democracy, a member of the United Nations, a sovereign state on the continent of Europe, and it’s not acceptable.”
While offering military help to Ukraine, we are also told that the solution to the crisis is not military, which all sides would agree with.
It seems that there is still a very poor understanding of why the conflict in Ukraine exists at all, and a poor observation by the OSCE who apparently never manage to determine who fired the shots, obliging us to be content with ‘both sides blame the other’. If there is a front line, and we are led to believe there is, then it should be pretty obvious who is firing, no?
Instead of offering military help, could we not encourage the Ukraine government to give the Eastern Ukrainians the same language rights as Russian speakers in New York enjoy? Why is this unreasonable? Reinstate their pensions? And could we not encourage their politicians to refrain from referring to them as sub-human and wanting them gone? Is that unreasonable?
In conveniently forgetting that this is why there is a war, and working toward fixing this cause, we cannot blame Russia for everything. For obvious reasons Russians and Mr Putin cannot sit by and watch their relatives be treated like this; if the South West of France (which has many English speakers) were suddenly discriminated against after a change of government in Paris, I’m sure Mr Cameron himself would not stand by and do nothing (I know this analogy is not perfect!).
My husband is Russian, half Ukrainian, and has close relatives in Lugansk. The younger ones (under 35) left while it was still possible, and are now in Kiev, 2 male cousins lying low to try and avoid being forced to join the army and help destroy their own region and city. The older ones are still in Lugansk, one narrowly escaped being killed by a bomb because she happened to be downhill from it when it struck and so the shrapnel went over her head. She cannot believe that the West are still swallowing the Ukrainian line that it is Russian terrorists who are bombing her city and this is what the Ukrainian army are trying to prevent. They cannot believe why it is not reported who bombed the hospitals, schools and maternity units that have been destroyed, and why we in the West cannot use a minimum of logic to deduce that if what we are told is correct, the Eastern Ukrainians are bombing themselves, which is plainly ridiculous! Obviously observations from the OSCE should be helping this situation, but for some unfathomable reason there is no information, which rather contradicts Mr Cameron’s claim that we have the intelligence.
It is convenient to see Russia’s actions as trying to dismember a democracy, but in failing to pinpoint and deal with the cause we are giving them no option. Eastern Ukrainians do not want to be in Russia, contrary to what constantly referring to them as ‘pro-Russian’ implies. Even John Humphreys on the Today programme yesterday morning demonstrated that he hasn’t understood that! But in failing to deal with cause of this conflict we are fuelling a situation in which the East of Ukraine continuing to be a part of Ukraine is increasing unlikely. Needless to say that providing military help to Ukraine will increase the likelihood of my husband’s relatives’ quality of life degrading even further. And will not promote domestic bliss here either.
Yours sincerely, me.