Posted on 28th January 2023

The view of Slane Castle from the hill

It feels good to be alive.  Snowdrops form a vigorous white ribbon along my daily walk.  The air feels fresh and Spring is just around the corner,  unlike East Asia which is the midst of a cold snap which has brought travel chaos to the Lunar New Year holiday and killed several people in Japan.  According to Sang- Wook Yeh, a Climate Professor at Hanyang University in Seoul “ Climate change is, indeed, deepening and there is a consensus amongst global scientists that this kind of cold phenomenon will worsen going forwards”.  It is at times like this that I really appreciate Ireland’s temperate climate, so if you’re out walking this weekend, enjoy what we have.

It was President Zelensky’s birthday this week and he got a wonderful birthday present when Germany finally relented and said they would give Ukraine 14 Leopard 2 tanks.  Also they said they would give their authorisation for other European countries to transfer their tanks to Ukraine.  This could be a game changer and is certainly crucial if Ukraine is going to mount a successful Spring offensive.  Vlad the Bad is not happy.  Russia’s Ambassador to Germany described this decision as “ extremely dangerous” and that it takes the conflict “ to a new level of confrontation”.  If the US sends Abrams tanks Kremlin’s spokesperson Dimitri Peskov told CNN they will  ” burn down just like all the others”.   However, on Wednesday following the announcement of the shipment of the British Challenger2 tanks, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wrote on Twitter “ Together we are accelerating our efforts to ensure Ukraine wins this war and secures a lasting peace”.  However, on Thursday Russia unleashed a series of missile strikes against Ukraine.  They managed to shoot down most of the kh-55 missiles but some hit their targets.  War is a grim and terrible business.  According to estimates released last Sunday by the Norwegians, the Russians have suffered 180,000 killed or wounded, the Ukrainians 100,000 military casualties and 30,000 dead civilians.  There is no question more will die.  Zelensky has publicly thanked the West for the military aid and took the opportunity in a interview on Sky News to call Putin “ a nobody”.  This has infuriated the Kremlin.

As I see it, Putin is losing this war and like many despots before him, he sees no other way than to pour masses of unfortunate conscripts into the conflict in a vain attempt to prop up his decadent regime.  For the moment his grip on power is holding.  He has the apparatus of the State Security Services answering to him.  However, the best and the brightest of Russia’s youth are leaving the country.  Nobody likes to live in a sinking ship even if it takes a while to go down.

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