The World War 2 commemoration in Moscow has provided another chilling reminder of the military power that President Putin currently holds. He justifies his aggression by claiming that the West threatened Russia. This rationale was put forward by Peter Hitchens when we opposed each other at the RA Butler Debate on Anglo-Russian relations before Lockdown. It is the flawed excuse of the killer who claims that because a person insulted him, he is justified in hitting them with a hammer. However, pre-emption is not one of the three permitted reasons to go to war in international law (self-defence; a treaty such as NATO’s Article 5; or a UN resolution in response to something like genocide).
The irony is that it is the West’s weakness, not its military threat, that has enabled Putin to invade his neighbour. Not only have we run down our military so we can no longer sustain a fully capable armoured division abroad, but our decisions about Libya, Syria and Afghanistan have demonstrated to Putin that we run away from difficulties overseas. Since China, India and most of Asia are still providing him with economic sanctuary, we really need to change tack if we are to win this one.