John Halewood-Dodd column

John Halewood Dodd.
John Halewood Dodd.

I have been following recent developments in the Ukraine avidly as less than six months ago I was in Independence Square in Kiev along with my mates and thousands of other England football fans for the World Cup qualifier.

We were made to feel extremely welcome and it was clear that many locals were eager to forge links with the West.

We had no idea that such aspirations would lead to the violence, death and mayhem that we have witnessed in recent weeks.

Even more worrying is that this may be a drop in the ocean compared to what may happen if a resolution isn’t found to the current crisis.

It is a very complex situation, and I apologise in advance if my assessment over simplifies, as my understanding is that the Ukranian government had suggested that they were to develop links with the West and then reneged, no doubt following Russian influence.

This led to mass demonstrations in Kiev, a stand-off followed, and as there seemed to be little room for compromise the violence escalated and dozens lost their lives.

As things deteriorated Victor Yanukovych, the Ukranian President, fled to Moscow claiming that Kiev was now in the hands of an illegitimate government of far right extremists with “xenophobic anti-semitic and neo-fascist views.”

The Russians were quick to respond with President Putin ordering his forces into the Crimean area of the Ukraine. There has been no additional bloodshed since then but things are obviously extremely tense.

The UN, very much influenced by the US, are threatening Russia with economic sanctions if they fail to withdraw their military personnel, but how effective this would be is questionable.

Russia is obviously a major power, both militarily and economically, and it appears that President Putin is unperturbed by such threats.

Personally, I don’t envisage things escalating into a Third World War, as some have suggested, but there are real concerns that if attempts at a diplomatic resolution fail then the consequences for all, especially in Europe, will be extremely far-reaching.

Let us hope that a compromise is reached so that there is no further bloodshed.