Greenock Telegraph 28th January 2022

As a child growing up in the sixties the Cold War was a regular news item, and the picture was painted of a free Western Europe backed up by the USA. While behind the iron curtain was the cold heartless communist regime with Moscow at its centre and spreading throughout the United Soviet Socialist Republic. Locally the tensions and misconceptions were heightened by the presence of the American naval base in the Holy Loch. The USSR posed a threat to the freedom of the West. This was an excuse for arms race and a proliferation of nuclear weapons. But the Cold War ended, the Berlin Wall was torn down, and countries that had been consumed were once again free and recognised as independent sovereign nations. Amongst others Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, and Ukraine all emerged from under the control of Moscow. Russia embraced the accumulation of great wealth and infiltrated the economies of many countries, often with money of dubious sources. They were no longer perceived to be the enemy, not while they could pay top dollar for London property. Not while the tills rang out in Mayfair and Knightsbridge. And yet Moscow has grown uneasy over western influences on Russian domestic affairs. Their nervousness’s has resulted in incursions into Crimea after the Ukraine politically moved closer to Europe. And eight years later Crimea is annexed, the Ukraine is under threat, and we need to act. We must impose trade restrictions and hit the money men where it hurts then most, in their wallets. Russian individuals must be cut off from using the SWIFT banking payments system, a measure that will have real and measurable impact if imposed.

Ukraine is an independent sovereign nation and should be recognised and respected as such. This is not the Cold War reds under the beds, mentality. One premise of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act is that state borders should not be changed by force and although Ukraine is not part of NATO it must be protected. Diplomatic channels should be working night and day to avoid conflict as the continuation of Ukraine to function free from threats and external influences is paramount to avoiding a war on European soil.