Today did not start well – which is rather an understatement. I had set my alarm to 6.15 in order to go shopping early and when the 6.30 news came on, I found that Russia had launched a full scale invasion on the Ukraine. I say full scale but in the first few hours it seemed that a two pronged attack was in place from Crimea in the south (what a surprise) and from the Russia-friendly Belarus in the North, supplemented by some missile strikes on military facilities in the vicinity of Kiev. As the day progressed, it started to become evident that Russia intended to take over not only the two self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk but probably were intent on a decapitation of the Ukraine and were prepared to install a puppet government in Kiev. But more of this later.
When I got to the larger Aldi supermarket in Bromsgrove, I realised that to my dismay I did not have a £1 coin or a trolley token to release the shopping trolley. A queue of about 10 had already formed and although I went down the queue, nobody was prepared to exchange my two 50p pieces for a £1 coin (which, I must say, I found rather incredible) So I had no alternative but to go back home, avail myself of a couple of £1 coins (one to use, one to keep permanently in the car) and then went off to the smaller Aldi that I used to frequent some three years ago now. I spent quite some time looking for items which were not where I expected them to be but one of the delights of Aldi’s is the ‘middle aisle’ where hardware and household goods (often high quality but remaindered) are sold off. I actually bought Meg a pair of pyjamas which she needed and also an extending bamboo cutlery drawer which is a bit more useful than the one we have in use at the moment.
After we had got unpacked and breakfasted, Meg and I went by car to pick up our newspaper and then we decided to go to Aldi’s to pick up a second pair of pyjamas as useful things tend to go extremely quickly – as Aldi say ‘Once it’s gone, it’s gone‘. We managed to locate the pile buried amongst other items and bought a second pair, albeit a size smaller but we trust that this will do. I also bought some leather gloves which happened to be in the vicinity, and not to be outdone Meg bought herself a pair of knee-length socks as well. Afterwards, we went to the park but it was bitterly cold and we did not want to linger. Nonetheless, our park friend Seasoned World Travller spotted us from afar so we had a brief chat about our reactions to the Ukraine invasion. But neither of us wanted to hang about chatting for too long as we were assailed by an icy wind, with lots of sleet and/or snow inside it. Then we came home and had ourselves a quick curry, necessary in view of the weather.
Needless to say the airways were dominated by the Ukraine invasion and we followed this quite intently, as well as viewing the feeds of the reaction of the PM and the Leader of the Opposition from Parliament, which was interesting to see. One the one hand, the channels are eager to report what is actually happening as it is the first time that a European country has invaded another neighbour since 1939 – 83 years go. And secondly, when I consulted the web, I found the following Question and Answer. Question – Why did Germany invade Poland? Answer – Germany invaded Poland to regain lost territory and ultimately rule their neighbor to the east. The interesting thing about this pithy piece of history is that you could just substitute the countries ‘Russia‘ and ‘Ukraine‘ and the sentence would still hold good. I am sure that when we get as far as Newsnight tonight, some of the military analysts will be available to air their opinion. Thinking through some of the longer term possibilities, then if the Ukraine does manage to hold off Russia, then they will surely want to join Nato as soon as they can. On the other hand (and more likely), if Putin gets away with Ukraine, he may well go after some of the much smaller Baltic states such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. These three are members of NATO and the EU since 2004 and wish to be even more integrated into the NATO alliance. There are reports that the populations in these three countries are almost literally ‘trembling in their boots’ because they used to be under Soviet rule for decades and if Putin manages to regain Ukraine for Russia, then he will almost certainly go after them. So whichever way one plays out the scenario, it looks as though Russia and NATO are going to square up to each other for another version of the ‘Cold War’ The first one lasted from 1947 until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 which is some 44 years.