So this appalling war grinds on and the parallels between Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Putin continue to haunt. Both Hitler and Putin think they are better at running a war. Vlad the Bad has now sacked 8 generals and according to Sir Jeremy Fleming, Head of GCHQ and the UK’s Intelligence Cyber and Security Agency, his advisors “ are afraid to tell him the truth”. The reality is that demoralised Russian soldiers are refusing to carry out orders and sabotaging their own equipment. They even accidently shot down one of their own aircraft. On the Russian side, the blame game in the face of the monumental catastrophe has started in earnest. I find it hard to imagine that Putin doesn’t realise what an enormous miscalculation he has made by invading the Ukraine, most obvious of all underestimating the fortitude of the Ukrainian people and the continuing charismatic leadership of Zelensky. So what next ? The Russians are hardly to be trusted and whilst there is some talk of withdrawal there is yet to be seen evidence on the ground, indeed they are continuing the shelling of civilian targets. The suspicion being that they might withdraw to regroup and then focus on the Donbass region. What of the peace talks? There have been some optimistic signs but then they have the bizarre poisoning of Abramovich. It’s like something out of the Middle Ages or an episode of Game of Thrones.
There is no escaping the consequences of this war. One man’s delusional quest for empire is causing chaos, the most awful of which, apart from the immediate carnage, is the mass displacement of the Ukrainian people. This in turn will have financial consequences including here and the Cabinet have already been advised that the State’s €2.5 billion contingency fund ear-marked to deal with a future upsurge of Covid may have to be accessed to deal with the refugee crisis.
However, one financial fact looms over everything. Germany is sending €800 million a day to Moscow to pay for gas. That is financing the war. Cut off that revenue and Putin is in deep trouble. It might even topple his regime. We are heading into summer. It might even be possible to turn off the tap. Finally, what I suspected. Evidence is emerging that the Chinese are secretly helping the Russians evade sanctions.
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