Readers' Letters: It's time to deploy defensive armed forces in Ukraine

I am more than disappointed by the reaction of western democracies to the continuing aggression by the Russian army in Ukraine.
Ukrainians soldiers pass an improvised path under a destroyed bridge as they evacuate an elderly resident in Irpin, 16 miles north-west of Kyiv, yesterday. (Picture: AP/Efrem Lukatsky)Ukrainians soldiers pass an improvised path under a destroyed bridge as they evacuate an elderly resident in Irpin, 16 miles north-west of Kyiv, yesterday. (Picture: AP/Efrem Lukatsky)
Ukrainians soldiers pass an improvised path under a destroyed bridge as they evacuate an elderly resident in Irpin, 16 miles north-west of Kyiv, yesterday. (Picture: AP/Efrem Lukatsky)

People talk about diplomacy and sanctions being the answer. But how can diplomacy be an answer when Sergiy Lavrov, Putin's puppet foreign minister, continually lies in meetings and press conferences, with total impunity.

Sanctions may have an effect, but not for an indeterminate period of time. Meanwhile, Ukrainian people are being murdered, cities destroyed, and millions are losing all their possessions while fleeing the carnage.

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If we are to put our faith in diplomacy, why can there not be immediate focus in bringing other world democracies into a concerted union that goes beyond Nato, and begins to put defensive armed forces into Ukraine ?

On a further point, recalling similar Russian atrocities in the recent past, why do our political experts in our media not focus on the predecessor of the current President of Ukraine. Viktor Yanukovych was voted out of office in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea. He had always been pro-Kremlin, and he then fled the country, now living in wealth and comfort in Russia.

Our western governments are failing not only the people of Ukraine, but their own people as well. Success in Ukraine simply encourages the Kremlin to go further in the future.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

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Not our fight?

Many countries, including the UK, have sent arms, missiles and emergency supplies to Ukraine. But no-one is willing to attack Putin's forces. The reason given is that we dare not risk starting World War III.

What does that mean? Have we surrendered to Putin without a fight? Are we going to allow him to seize other countries like Finland and Sweden, for example, and let him get away with it because we dare not risk World War III? Where will we finally take a stand against Putin if not now?

The United Nations General Assembly voted by a large majority to condemn Russia’s invasion and demand an immediate withdrawal of its forces. That was a week ago. There has been no withdrawal. Instead, there has been an increase of the onslaught against the people of the Ukraine. The West has retaliated with economic sanctions against Russia. Those sanctions are a clear statement of opposition, but they are slow to take effect and they do not save the people of Ukraine from bombs and shells.

The West must take action now to drive Putin’s army out of Ukraine. We are witnessing a massacre and the only way to stop it is by smashing the army, Putin's army, which is murdering innocent people in their hundreds.

Les Reid, Edinburgh

Dangerous view

Victor Clements’ criticisim of Nicola Sturgeon's frankly extraordinary opinion that Nato should not rule out a no-fly zone over Ukraine hits the nail on the head (Letters, 11 March). In this, we must presume, Sturgeon is being true to form and adopting a different stance to Westminster, simply for difference's sake.

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Yet she's also at odds with almost every sovereign nation leader in the western world. In fact, dangerously at odds since her views, if they were of any consequence globally, would risk provoking a third world war.

However, we must be grateful Sturgeon has merely a domestic remit (albeit vitally important) and is of zero significance on the world stage. Hitherto, I'd thought Sturgeon's virtue-signalling over witches was errant nonsense; now I wish it was her exclusive focus.

Martin Redfern, Melrose, Scottish Borders

Bullies’ charter

When confronted by a bully it is not a good strategy to immediately declare that you will never fight back.

Not making such a declaration does not mean one condones violence, or intends to use violence, irrespective of the views, politically-motivated or otherwise, of some less objective letter-writers to this newspaper when referencing recent comment of the First Minister of not ruling out a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Of course no sensible person wishes to see the disastrous conflict in the Ukraine escalate, but when Russia is now talking about the use of chemical weapons it would seem either arrogant or naïve to presume that Putin will not continue to further test the boundaries of Nato’s common military resolve, which in turn will result in many more people suffering the dire consequences of war.

Finland is not a member of Nato so would those criticising the comments of Nicola Sturgeon suggest that Nato now declare that as long as that remains the case it will not declare a ‘no-fly zone over Finland and if you lived in Finland would you be grateful for such a declaration at this time?

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

Double standards

So it’s forbidden for the West to send armed personnel to the Ukraine or impose a no-fly zone because that would be "foreign interference”, but it is okay for Vladimir Putin to hire Middle Eastern “volunteers” to replace Russia's horrific battlefield losses and as deniable assets for any pending “dirty warfare” (for example, chemical and biological weapons)?

It's long past massive worldwide intervention to nip this insanity in the bud before events spiral long past the point of no return.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Red tape

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In 1794 Napoleon said that Britain was “a nation of shopkeepers”. However, Britain is now a nation of bureaucrats, amply borne out by the current handling of Ukrainian refugees.

David Hollingdale, Edinburgh

Visas safeguard

The Dublin Agreement is that refugees are entitled to haven in the nearest safe country. For Ukrainians Britain is never that.

However, I agree that compassion requires us to bend those rules a bit – but never so much as to permit any well disguised enemy or crook to slip in; nor to accept able-bodied Ukrainian men of military age too cowardly to stay and fight for their homeland. Visas are an essential safeguard.

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

Fitba’ crazy

I agree with the push for Scotland to be recognised as “the home of football”, but not, perhaps, the area of Glasgow that wishes to claim it for itself (Scotsman, 11 March). To the best of my knowledge, the oldest football in the world was found in Stirling and dates from Mary Queen of Scots’ time, so Stirling has a few centuries’ lead over Glasgow.

However, the story of football is illustrated best in The Steel Bonnets by George MacDonald Fraser. He tells how the Border Reivers, who were as clannish as the Highlanders, were a menace for a long period in the 15th and 16th centuries, even creating an area without recognised government on the borders of England and Scotland called "The Debatable Lands" as neither Scotland nor England effectively ruled them.

The Reivers' violent conduct spawned such well-known terms as "freelance", meaning a "moss trooper" with a lance for hire and blackmail, which is self-explanatory. Many families were “bereaved” after an encounter with these ruffians who often left the menfolk dead and the cattle rustled.

Where did they plan their devilment? Often, they would meet their fellow Reivers at football matches, which were wild affairs with little or no rules. As a descendant of the Grays, which is a Borders family, like the Dicksons, Elliots, Armstrongs and so forth, I would say that the right to claim historical ownership of football is firmly in the Borderlands of Scotland and England.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Nuclear option

Calum Miller (Letters, 10 March) believes more fossil fuels, fracking and nuclear are what Scotland needs for energy security.

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That’s absurd. To survive, we need to radically decrease, not increase, our burning of fossil fuels. Even before the war in Ukraine, global oil and gas prices were higher than renewables. Fracking, as seen in the US, results in earthquakes and contaminated ground water.

Nuclear power, apart from the unsolved problem of toxic nuclear waste, is uneconomic. A German study of nuclear plants constructed around the world since 1951 found the average plant made a loss of 4.8 billion Euros. Small modular reactors (SMRs) won’t save the day. There’s just one in Russia, and SMRs in Wales and Cumbria have both folded. That’s why the UK Government is forcing consumers to bear the costs of nuclear, not private companies, with its Nuclear Energy Financing Bill.

Renewables generate nearly 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity and there’s capacity for far more. Scotland possesses a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal power, and ten per cent of its wave power potential. Renewables projects can be developed quickly and are six times cheaper than gas generation. Yet the UK’s privatised Ofgem has prevented new renewables projects by charging Scottish generators £7.36/MWh and just £0.49 in England and Wales.

Westminster controls energy policy and would rather subsidise nuclear power and Big Oil than develop Scotland’s vast renewables potential.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh


I share the surprise expressed by many contributors that the First Minister should have felt obliged to apologise for the treatment of witches in the 16th and 17th centuries (Scotsman, 9 March).

The principal protagonists in their persecution at the time were the Church and the monarch, and it was to them that I would have expected the witches to turn for contrition.

James Scott, Edinburgh

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