I have been to Moscow, St Petersburg and Tomsk (in Siberia). Never been to Ukraine nor any other of the former USSR satellites. The closest I got was talking in my best French with a group of Ukrainians.
Now Putin has launched his attack not just across the two eastern regions but from the North and South and now Kyiv the capital of Ukraine.
Thousands have already left. Many in the country are collecting petrol and heading for what they hope will be safety.
In my life I have seen Russia step back from the Bay of Pigs in Cuba, but also suppress the Hungarian uprising in the late fifties. The fear of Nuclear War in the seventies and eighties, the nineties conflict in the former Yugoslavia and the attack of Afghanistan. And the taking of Crimea this century following interventions in Chechnya and Georgia.
We had believed that peace would prevail through the EU and NATO. Who knows now what will happen?
Yet again our leader has been too late and far too light to have helpful sanctions.
Watching, reading and listening to the latest news from Ukraine I stopped and remembered the days when Rageh Omaar was the BBC Senior Foreign Correspondent in Iraq.
Now as ITV International Affairs and Assignments Editor, he is giving us a clear view of Ukraine, rather different from Baghdad. Now there are over 150,000 Russian soldiers spread across the North, South and Eastern Ukraine.
Putin’s plot appears to be to degrade banks, businesses and foster panic instead of peace, also attacking key places such as Kharkiv. His highest aim is to put in place a puppet regime.
Whilst the Ukraine situation could linger on for weeks or even years, Putin will have created devastation for Russia.
Rageh implies that Russia could collapse. We think the links with Johnson won’t help either whether or not he continues as PM. Ukraine is an enormous country, larger than any other in Europe.
The large Russian energy firms (Gazprom and Rosneft) provide the heart of the Russian export economy. In 2019 39% of Russia’s budget was from oil and gas, whilst they provide 60% of its exports.
Across the World, nations are furious about Putin’s attack on Ukraine. Football refusals from Poland and Sweden, Germany supplying arms, Russian people demonstrating in over 50 Russian cities and in most countries too.
Editor’s note: if you want to support Ukraine please take a look at these links: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/feb/24/how-can-britons-help-the-people-of-ukraine