Ukraine crisis is a wake-up call for the West

UKRAINE: Hopefully they will drive the Russians out of their ravaged country.

UKRAINE: Hopefully they will drive the Russians out of their ravaged country.

AS a columnist you ask yourself, in the wake of Putin’s merciless invasion, whether you had better write about Ukraine, because it is all anyone wants to read about, or whether you had better not, because it is the one thing nobody wants to read about.

I have avoided writing about Ukraine, not because I don’t care, but the opposite. I have close friends there whose future is frighteningly uncertain since the primary fear is what a cornered Vladimir Putin might do. There is a sense that nothing makes sense, nothing can be predicted, because he follows no logic that standard politicians would apply.

But then this former KGB agent is no standard politician. Just look at how carefully he’s polished his public image as a ‘caring’ man of adventure, frequently appearing bare-chested for cameras. He’s been shown wrestling heroically with a python after it ‘escaped’ from a Moscow zoo. Tranquilising a tiger, putting a tracking collar on a polar bear and using a crossbow to extract tissue from a whale.

He’s posed topless riding a horse in Siberia and flown on a fighter jet, a bomber and an amphibious firefighting aircraft. He dived into the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea and, amazingly, immediately ‘discovered’ fragments of two ancient Greek urns – later admitted as a total set up.

Indeed, Putin’s more recent stunts seem to have misfired and ended up the subject of fun rather than flattery. Like his attempt to lead white Siberian cranes towards their winter habitat when he flew a microlight dressed in white to fool the birds. And finished up looking more like a character from Bowie’s Space Odyssey phase.

As for the brave Ukrainians, their best prospect is that they’ll eventually drive the Russians out of their ravaged country and we in the West can then help rebuild. Ukraine’s agony has bought us time. Hopefully, the West will use that time to ready our defences, so that Russia (or China) will no longer be able to dismiss our capability to look after our interests.

Meanwhile ‘Slava Ukraini!’

Nora Johnson’s psychological crime thrillers ‘The Sentinel’, ‘No Safe Place’, ‘Betrayal’, ‘The Girl in the Woods’, ‘The Girl in the Red Dress’, ‘No Way Back’, ‘Landscape of Lies’, ‘Retribution’, ‘Soul Stealer’, ‘The De Clerambault Code’ ( available online as eBook (€0.99; £0.99), Apple Books, paperback and audiobook.All profits to Costa del Sol Cudeca cancer charity.  

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Nora Johnson

Novelist Nora Johnson offers insights on everything from current affairs to life in Spain, with humour and a keen eye for detail.