The levels of depravity among Russian troops are sickening. Their violence and abuse of children, women and the elderly make for harrowing reading. The suffering that they have needlessly inflicted on the victms of Putin’s illegal war is truly unimaginable. From a safe distance here in the UK, we simply cannot begin to comprehend the horrors inflicted.
Boris Johnson did the right thing in travelling to Kyiv and promising to stay the course with our Ukrainian friends. We must hope that this is one promise he does keep.
The eye witness accounts of war crimes in Ukraine have been appalling. Putin has suffered a humiliating defeat in the battle for Kyiv but the war is far from over and he will now turn his guns on the Donbas, knowing that his political survival is entwined in the outcome.
Putin is desperate to present his people with some sort of victory, following the atrocious bloodshed that he has caused.
He has put his country back decades; there will be long-lasting economic damage and the hydrocarbons that continue to fund his war machine will gradually have to be sold elsewhere, for Europe is weaning itself off them.
Putin’s act of destruction in Ukraine has also been an act of self-destruction. He badly misread the task of invasion, the reaction of the West and the ability of his forces. He has also not realised that this would be a very modern war, where war crimes would be revealed through technology like drones and satellites.
This week brings the 50th day of the conflict, but Putin has, in that short time, unleashed huge damage both to the Ukrainian people but also to the Russian standing internationally. He will never recover.
The Toby Neal feature in today’s paper is a timely reminder of the brutality of war and how warfare can turn people against each other in the most inhuman possible way. The story of Wolfgang Rosterg is truly tragic. It is also important it is told as a reminder that those identified as the enemy are human beings. Russia has suffered huge losses in the war. Many of those were conscripts who had no idea what they were going into.
There will be a time when those in charge in Russia will hopefully be brought to account. And one day the people of Ukraine and Russia will have to get on as neighbours, who have a huge amount in common historically and culturally. Like the UK and Germany, which are today close allies, common decency will eventually prevail.
Yet Putin has caused a lifetime’s worth of damage and suffering. It will take time to find peace and heal.