Star comment: Putin's barbarism must not prevail

The war in Ukraine puts our problems in perspective.

The shopping centre in Kremenchuk, Ukraine
The shopping centre in Kremenchuk, Ukraine

The shocking scenes following the Russian missile strike on the shopping centre in Ukraine are a stark reminder that the conflict – and the terrible cost of the conflict – are continuing.

While we may have become numbed to the horrors of Russia’s War of Aggression in the Donbas, we cannot avert our gaze from the burning blazes in a shopping centre. It is like the ones that so many of us visit on a weekly basis. Those who died could have been us. Those who are maimed could have been us.

Russia’s attack was a deliberately provocative act, to coincide with the G7 summit, as it seeks to push a narrative that it’s the West versus the rest of the world. It is nothing of the sort. Putin is an outlier, a monster who is killing thousands of people to pursue a perverse ideology in his lust to return Russian boundaries to those long consigned to the history books.

At home, the cost of living crisis, rail strikes and the political soap opera in Downing Street may have drawn attention elsewhere, but the war in Ukraine puts these in perspective. It is a reminder that now – perhaps more than ever – we must continue to do all we can to support the people of Ukraine in the face of such senseless violence.

People are dying each day as Putin’s murderous army continues its march. Some liken today’s position to Europe in 1937. We must remain vigilant. We must stay the course. We must not let Putin’s barbarism prevail.

There has been clear accord at the G7, though there are costs associated with helping Ukraine to defend itself and many are feeling the pinch. The costs, however, will be far higher if Putin wins. We are in a new era and we must be willing to defend ourselves and others.

All aspects of society are being affected by the cost of living crisis. The Local Government Association has warned that local services are facing funding cuts as a result.

Some cynics might wonder what services are left to cut, but there is little doubt that the very difficult tightrope already walked by local authorities will become ever more challenges as rising costs place their financial viability under pressure.

This is not an issue that will go away any time soon. There is a multi-billion pound local authority deficit, across the UK, and services that we didn’t imagine could be further reduced are now in the firing line. There will be more reductions in community provision as councils and the Government look to balance the books.

The backdrop, of course, is spiralling inflation, high energy prices, rampant fuel costs and low wage growth, leading to small disposable incomes.

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