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Europe’s darkest hour

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Putin’s sucker punch to the West could be seen coming from space, but the pugilists in the ring didn’t think he would risk a hammer blow at the heart of democracy in Europe.

Russia’s bully-boy tactic to bulldoze its way into Ukraine for the Kremlin’s version of regime change was predicted months in advance.

Moscow pretended it was still open to resolving its fear-of-NATO issues through quid pro quo diplomacy.

In reality, it planned the invasion of Ukraine months ahead; for years, it has been Vladimir Putin’s obsession to restore the Soviet empire.

Ukraine escaped its sphere of influence to fraternise with the West and liberal democratic ideals.

The former KGB officer believes the Cold War never ended, and the Berlin wall didn’t come tumbling down along with the Soviet satellite states.

Russia’s henchman didn’t need an excuse to invade the country; rather than say Ukraine didn’t deserve to exist as an independent, free-thinking country, he branded them “Nazis” and “US puppets”.

He would rather his puppets were dancing to the Kremlin’s tune than have a voice to decide their future.

Many in the intelligence community may have thought Putin was bluffing, that he wouldn’t tear up the rule book and behave as if WWII never ended.

NATO allies and Europe were inadequately equipped to combat Russia’s fake diplomacy, and its prowess for misinformation spiked with cyber attacks.

There were strong words, bravado, and threats about the consequences if Ukraine’s sovereignty was violated.

Water off a duck’s back; Putin was determined to redraw the map of Europe where the Soviet Union controlled Eastern Europe and frolicked behind the iron curtain.

This is the glorious past that Putin wants to recreate, a step back in time when Communism had all the best slogans and moral certainty.

But somebody forgot to tell Putin the empire crumbled because the Kremlin wasn’t very good at it; fear and coercion were so last century.

A totally unprovoked war against its neighbour is not something the Russian people have sanctioned; they were not part of the conversation.

Authorities have quickly silenced protests in Russia against the war, ensuring the monopoly of media extols Putin’s version of the truth.

And once stormtroopers stomped on Ukrainian soil, the West was almost shocked to see the type of warfare they thought had been confined to the history books.

The wall had come down, defeated by the urge for democracy in not resolving differences with armed aggression.

Wasn’t this supposed to be peace in our time?

A decidedly ramshackle response to Ukraine being blitzed exposed the West’s so-called solidarity.

They boasted about tough sanctions, but the EU and Washington put the brakes on when it came to biting the bullet, not going as far as the UK did.

Heavily outgunned and outnumbered, Ukraine needed more than vocal support to stop the Russian tanks.

NATO bystander

NATO was content to be a bystander while everyone else also watched the Russians fire countless missiles.

Putin counted on the West doing nothing; he is determined to occupy Ukraine and instal a government of his choosing.

Isn’t the whole idea of NATO to defend Europe against Russian aggression?

Ukrainians are seeing their homes and their future disappear in front of their eyes because an unhinged dictator believes they have no right to exist.

Certainly, most Russians don’t want Putin’s blood on their hands; they don’t want to be labelled as pariahs unwelcomed wherever they go.

Politics in Europe is changing by the hour; Putin has evolved into the terminator – he is back to reunify Russia forged by war.

Ironically, he justified his invasion of Ukraine, saying it was the refuge of “Nazis and drug addicts”, but he sounded like the world’s most infamous Nazi.

Cyprus also finds itself in an awkward place, as it strives to be everyone’s friend and not take sides unless it is to give Turkey an ear-bashing.

Nicosia has witnessed what solidarity means in practice, and few would lift a finger to stop Turkish tanks from taking the rest of the island.

Russia is doing exactly what Turley did in 1974 – sending ‘peacekeepers’- Cypriots are still paying the price today.

Many would argue that Cyprus was a victim of the Cold War as the Americans were not fond of another Castro (Makarios) in the Med, neither were the US-backed fascists in Greece.

It’s not so much history repeating itself as coming back from the dead.