Letters: the admirable strength of Ukrainians

The bravery of Ukraine Sir: Few articles could resonate as strongly as that of Svitlana Morenets (‘Scrambled logic’, 20 April). She brings the agony of her brave countrymen and women home to us, and the effect of dithering and equivocation by the West. As a volunteer with a refugee charity, I weekly admire the character of our Ukrainian clients, mainly older ladies who spend their time bringing us delicious homemade cakes, volunteering in charity shops and signing up to English classes at the local college. Tom Stubbs Surbiton, Surrey Well out of the EU Sir: I have huge respect for Lord Sumption as one of the few people with the

The cost of European peace

After six months of delay, the US Senate has finally passed a $60 billion foreign-aid package which will send urgently needed ammunition and military equipment to Ukrainian soldiers. It may well be the last such cheque to be signed in Washington. Donald Trump is favourite to be the next president of the United States and the senators closest to his brand of ‘America First’ politics, J.D. Vance of Ohio and Josh Hawley of Missouri, led the opposition to the Ukraine package. Their argument, crudely put, is that Europe should bankroll its own defence. The American money confirmed this week gives Europe about a year to adjust to this new reality and

Why does the West protect Israel but not Ukraine?

When Israel and its allies shot down hundreds of Iranian drones and missiles, they demonstrated what an effective air defence looks like. The slow-moving Shahed-136 suicide drones were not hard for the Israeli, Jordanian, British, American and (probably) Saudi air forces to find and eliminate. Even Iran’s cruise missiles were thwarted. It was an overwhelming victory for Israel and a humiliation for Iran. In Ukraine, all this was watched with desperation and even anger. While Israel boasts robust air defence systems and, with its allies, can deploy hundreds of combat aircraft to repel Iran’s attack, Ukraine must ration its defence munitions. Kyiv is forced to choose which cities to protect. Ukraine’s

Macron vs Putin: this summer’s Olympic battle

Dixmont, Yonne Last summer, Emmanuel Macron lashed out at France’s constitution because it prevents him from running for a third consecutive term in office. It is, he told his entourage, a ‘disastrous stupidity’. The majority of the French people would disagree. Macron’s approval ratings are dire, and a poll at the start of this month revealed that the youngest president in the history of the Fifth Republic has the support of only 7 per cent of the under-35s. Should anyone be surprised? Immigration is out of control, farmers have marched on Paris and teachers are at the end of their tether because of classroom intimidation. Anti-Semitic acts have surged since

Will Biden support Ukraine’s attacks on Russia?

This time last year, Volodymyr Zelensky was touring western capitals, calling for weapons and money to launch a decisive summer offensive. Nato eventually provided Leopard and Challenger tanks, Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, M777 howitzers, Himars rocket artillery and Patriot air defences – but too little, too late. The much-vaunted offensive went nowhere, despite a mutiny by the Wagner Group and widespread disarray in the Russian army. Instead, Soledar, Bakhmut and Avdiivka were seized. Today, Russian missile assaults are intensifying, not receding. In March, Russia hit Ukraine with 264 missiles and 515 drones. A relentless bombardment of Kharkiv is making Ukraine’s second city uninhabitable. In response, Kyiv’s most successful strategy to

Can David Cameron charm the Americans?

David Cameron is stateside today as the Foreign Secretary tries to muster up support for the US to send aid to Ukraine. While Cameron plans to discuss other urgent issues on the trip, such as the situation in the Middle East, the priority is to make the argument for the US to step up funding to Ukraine; senior Republicans are accused of blocking a £49 billion package for Kyiv. The push comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned on Sunday that his side would lose to Putin if American aid was withheld and Ukrainian air cover is not improved. Will the charm offensive work? The last time Cameron tried to

Portrait of the Week: hate crimes, surprise knighthoods and flaming rickshaws

Home The Hate Crime and Public Order Act came into effect in Scotland, making it a crime to communicate or behave in a manner ‘that a reasonable person would consider to be threatening or abusive’, with the intention of stirring up hatred based on age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or being intersex. The Scottish government offered online training to 500 Police Scotland ‘Hate Crime Champions’. The author J.K. Rowling named ten people who call themselves women that she called men. Police Scotland said complaints had been received about her, but that but no action would be taken. Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, said: ‘We should not be criminalising

How Ukraine plans to revive its birth rate

In my village in Ukraine, there aren’t many families left intact. The funerals of those who have been killed in the war have been taking place with crushing regularity. It feels like everyone’s loss. Today, in house after house, you can find parents whose children have either died or are still fighting with no indication of when they may return. It’s almost impossible for couples to start families – men are deployed to the front line with little hope of any leave. If they return alive, most are maimed in some way.  There is, though, a spark of hope for these young Ukrainians. Ukraine has quite an advanced network of

Portrait of the week: Lee Anderson defects, Ireland rejects and Kate photoshops

Home Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, said that Britain needed to build new gas-fired power stations to ensure energy security. GDP grew by 0.2 per cent in January. The number of people of working age classed as economically inactive rose to 9.25 million, compared with 8.55 million in February 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics. Among those aged 16 to 34, economic inactivity was rising; among those aged 35 to 64 it had fallen. Long-term sickness accounted for 2.7 million people not in work, 600,000 more than four years ago. The National Health Service employed more than two million for the first time, more than a third of public-sector workers.

The fresh, forceful voice of Frantz Fanon

‘If I’d died in my thirties, what would be left behind?’ is the question that keeps coming to mind reading this timely new biography of Frantz Fanon, the psychiatrist and philosopher who became an icon to leftist revolutionaries across the globe. ‘Would I want history to judge me by what I wrote at 36?’ For that was the absurdly young age at which Fanon died of leukaemia in 1961, leaving two key works to his name: Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth. Not a huge legacy, then, in sheer numbers of words. But it was enough to seal his reputation as both a chronicler of one

Would I die for Britain? No thanks

The West’s military posture has moved from ‘thick’ to ‘suicidal’. The recent speech of General Sir Patrick Sanders, the head of the British Army, in which he suggested that Britain needs a ‘citizens army’ to see off Russia, has forced the Government to deny that it wishes to introduce conscription – in advance of a great power conflict that Grant Shapps says is perhaps five years away. The media is casually debating ‘would Britons refuse to serve?’, on the basis that Gen Z is too neurotic to fight. The better question is ‘should we serve?’, on the grounds that our generation of leadership is so staggeringly dumb. What did Phil

Ukrainians can’t trust Putin’s hollow promises

Ukraine’s parliament will soon vote on much-needed conscription regulations which would draft an extra half a million recruits into the army. The categories of eligible men will be expanded, the draft age will be lowered from 27 to 25, and any man caught attempting to evade it will face harsh sanctions or imprisonment. Volodymyr Zelensky has stopped talking about victory coming any time soon. His New Year’s message was grim: everyone must either fight or help through work. Ukrainians are braced for another year of war. But talk of ‘peace’ or ‘compromise’ is still seen as code for a surrender which would reward rather than punish Vladimir Putin’s atrocities, cede

Must we live in perpetual fear of being named and shamed?

You should feel thoroughly ashamed of reading this infamous rag. Or else you might decide to revel, shamelessly, in its critics’ prim disapproval. From political squalls to global wars, David Keen argues that a ‘spiral of shame’ and shamelessness now traps individuals and societies in arid cycles of pain, rage and revenge. Manipulative actors – ‘advertisers, warmongers, terrorists, tyrants and charlatans’ – sell us ‘magical solutions’ to the anguish of the shame they themselves stoke. But they merely pass the burden to other groups, leaving us with more suffering. Keen writes: ‘Such actors do with shame what the Mafia does with fear.’ The author teaches conflict studies at the LSE.

No one wants to talk about Ukraine any more

Apologies for this seasonal downer. Had the website such a listing, this column would surely soar to number one in The Spectator’s ‘Least Popular’ roster. For just now, few topics are a bigger turn-off than Ukraine. Following Russia’s invasion, I got caught up in the same waves of emotion that washed over most western publics, and I say that with no regret. After relentlessly battling the prevailing cultural winds these past few years, I was relieved to feel a sense of solidarity for once. Most of us were revulsed by the gratuitous aggression, allied with an underdog whose bite proved surprisingly fierce, thrilled by a former comedian’s unexpected rise to

The US Senate is playing into Putin’s hands

The news this week that Republicans in the US Senate had voted together to block a supplemental funding bill that included provision for $61 billion for Ukraine was greeted with predictable dismay in Kyiv and glee in Moscow. Ostensibly this was a bid to force the White House into prioritising more spending on securing the Mexican border. However it also reflects a real sense on the part of some within the GOP that the United States is either throwing good money after bad in maintaining support for the conflict, or continuing to subsidise a backsliding Europe that really ought to be taking the lead on this crisis. After all, while

The Ukrainian war can only end in a peace deal

Kyiv In Ukraine, the political mood has become sombre and fractious. As the front lines settle into stalemate, Russia ramps up for a new season of missile and drone attacks, and vital US support for Ukraine’s war effort crumbles under partisan attack in Congress, one existential question looms large. Should Volodymyr Zelensky continue to fight endlessly in pursuit of a comprehensive defeat of Russia which may be unattainable – or should he consider cutting his losses and reaching a compromise? At the war’s outset, the Ukrainian President had a clear answer. ‘I am sure there are people who won’t be satisfied with any kind of peace [with Russia] under any

Is this where world war three starts?

Daugavpils You can tell quite a bit about a place by the number of national flags on display. One or two on public buildings here and there is a healthy genuflection to a moderate and comfortable patriotism. But groups of the same national flag every five paces, on every building and festooning the parks and boulevards – well, there’s something going on, isn’t there? You’re in a place where trouble is surely just around the corner, a place where the national authorities may not feel entirely secure. What sort of trouble? Well, one wouldn’t want to be over-dramatic, obvs, but in this particular case, world war three. The Russian invasion

Europe needs to step up on Ukraine

Vasyl, a burly, tattooed infantry commander who lost a leg to a Russian mine on the eastern front, sits swinging his remaining leg on the edge of the treatment table in the ‘Unbroken’ rehabilitation clinic in Lviv. He’s been inside the Russian trenches 50 times, he tells me. His stories are reminiscent of the first world war. I ask him what Ukraine needs for victory. Answer: ‘Motivated people.’ His T-shirt proclaims ‘no sacrifice, no victory’. After we shake hands and I wish him luck, he suddenly jumps off the table and starts skipping at amazing speed, his blue skipping rope whizzing around under his one foot, while he looks at

Ukraine’s fight has been eclipsed by the ‘Other War’

The first indication that this was a literary festival like no other came with the request to provide ‘proof of life’ questions in case of kidnap. I’ve been to some unusual festivals – earlier this year I found myself discussing war-rape, ancient and modern, with the classicist Mary Beard on a barefoot island in the Maldives – and had some unusual festival encounters, such as the woman who asked me to sign a book to her dead husband, adding that he was reading it when he died. This, however, was my first in a war zone. There was a polite warning from the Lviv Book Forum organisers: ‘If there is an