Monday, 23 May 2022
Lord Robertson began by describing Russia as an immensely complicated entity. It was important to distinguish fact from fiction. The 9 May Victory Day parade in Moscow was impressive, but had nothing to do with the facts on the ground in Ukraine. The Ukrainians - part of anti-Nazi fighters in the Second World War- were now fighting Russia. And the Russian Army was apparently no longer capable of fighting against people who didn’t want them.
The parade prompted three observations: victory in the war was not Russia’s alone, but equally we should recognise Soviet losses; there was a danger of conflating Russia and Putin – the Putin clique was not representative of his people; Russia was given insufficient credit for allowing a peaceful transfer of power in Poland and a peaceful conclusion of communism. The contrast with China and Tienanmen Square was stark.
Putin gave a totally dishonest characterisation of Ukraine: because of his emotionalism and messianic obsession with Russia. But the West should avoid provoking the thin-skinned Putin into even more reckless behaviour. He appeared convinced that NATO was a threat; but if so, why had he moved all troops away from the NATO frontier?