Letters: Ukraine crisis puts Nato at a crossroads


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The Independent Online

Your editorial of 3 September is bewildering. You seem to recognise that Nato expansionism is the cause of present Russian behaviour, but advocate a response which is more confrontational still. Unless there’s a last-minute change of heart in Newport, you are likely to get your way.

They intend a course of action which is maximally likely to lead to an armed clash between Nato forces and Russian forces. They will put Nato bases in countries adjoining Russia, knowing this is exactly what will wind up Russia further, and not just any countries adjoining Russia but countries with belligerently anti-Russian governments; and not just belligerently anti-Russian governments but also large Russian minorities who already feel repressed and discriminated against. These will regard the arrival of Nato troops as deliberately flaunting their repression in their faces, and an invitation to respond in the same way as the Russians in Ukraine.

On the hundredth anniversary of 1914, our best hope is that the sane Germans will restrain the British hotheads.

Roger Schafir

London N21


The letters published on 3 September regarding the Nato summit in Newport this week “showcased” (to quote one of the writers) a rather narrow-minded attitude to the event. There is a different view.

International meetings always cause disruption whether they be political or sporting; it goes with the territory. As pointed out in your editorial, the current tension over Ukraine means that major decisions have to be taken by our political leaders that could change the military situation in Europe. One way or another, we will all be affected by the outcome of this meeting.

As I listen to the helicopters flying overhead, ferrying participants to the meeting, I feel that history is being made a few miles away at  Celtic Manor, and am delighted that it has established itself on the world stage as a suitable venue for these events. The temporary inconvenience that we have to deal with is trivial compared with the fate of the people who live in the countries they are discussing.

We are privileged to have lived during such a long period of peace in Europe. We should not become complacent and complain if occasionally our comfortable lives are disrupted for a few days.

Peter Lewis



I am not usually an apologist for David Cameron, but Peter Giles’s snide comment on the history the Prime Minister  was taught at Eton (letter, 2 September) prompts me to suggest that it is Mr Giles who should study his history books more deeply.

He claims that Russia has never been an expansionist European power; how does he account for the fact that in 1914 Russia included Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and the whole of Poland? At the end of the Second World War all those countries except Finland were back under Soviet domination.

I suspect I may be older than Mr Giles, but in my lifetime Russia has been responsible for the Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, the Katyn massacre of 1940,  and the brutal suppression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956, and of the Prague Spring in 1968.

Like most Europeans we had always sought to draw a distinction between the long-suffering population of Russia and her appalling rulers, and had assumed that on the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 a new democratic country would emerge.

Instead we get Mr Putin, who repeats Hitler’s tactics when invading Czechoslovakia of claiming to rescue the German minority and then Mr Chamberlain’s shameful response. So on this occasion I find myself in agreement with David Cameron. 

Chris Preston



It beggars belief that even a newspaper as well-balanced as The Independent should join the media frenzy for aggressive action in Ukraine.

Unlike many world problems, this one is easily resolvable. The west should push for elections region by region in the country, allowing the inhabitants to join Russia or stay with a western-oriented Ukraine.

The Russians will agree with alacrity. With good reason, they think parts of eastern Ukraine will vote to join Russia. The Kiev government will refuse and then all western support should be withdrawn.

We created this situation with the unwise extension of Nato into Eastern Europe, now we should disengage before the things get out of control.

Lyn Brooks

Ongar, Essex

School lunch served up by the nanny state

I am not at all sure if the £1bn free school meals scheme that came into effect this week is “one of the most progressive changes to our school system for a long time”, as claimed by Nick Clegg. Putting aside the cost of the scheme, I am more concerned that it is likely to encourage state dependency among many families.

It is well known that many children go to school without any breakfast. Some will argue this is because of financial hardship, while others will argue this is due to parental irresponsibility. I align myself with the latter group because it has been proven time and again that good healthy meals can be prepared for as little as £2 a day. Therefore I believe that the Government’s free school meal scheme will allow some parents to delegate their parental responsibilities to the nanny state.

Many parents will now “legitimately” send their children to school without any breakfast, with the knowledge that the children will be fed by the state. In fact for many children this will be the only meal that they will receive during the whole day.

I am afraid this new scheme will bring up a new generation of young people fed by the state with hot healthy meals, but they will grow up without knowing how to choose and cook good healthy meals at home and how to become self-sufficient.

Rana Choudhury

Cheam, Surrey


Protect Syrians from British fanatics

Stan Labovitch balances the protection of civil liberties with protecting British citizens from terror (letter, 3 September). However, there is another duty to protect.

British citizens are among the many foreigners currently butchering Syrian citizens in their own land. British politicians and the British media, with their warmongering statements and biased coverage, have also in effect acted as recruiting sergeants for Syrian rebel groups over the past three years.

There is a responsibility to protect Syrians from the British, not just dump on them every swaggering fanatic who is capable of sacralising his own sadism.

Peter McKenna



Elizabeth Morley makes a cheap and mischievous point (letter, 3 September) when she asks about the status of British Jews returning after a stint in the Israeli army.

While jihadists of Isis, al-Qa’ida, Hizbollah, Hamas, Boko Haram etc have mercilessly murdered countless thousands worldwide and will undoubtedly spread their wings even more strongly in Britain if allowed to, Jewish natural sentiment towards Israel has never affected in any manner whatsoever the loyalty of British Jews to Britain, and there has never been a single case of a British Jew harming anyone else for religious reasons.

Alan Halibard

Bet Shemesh, Israel


US opposition to trade treaty

The trade minister Lord Livingston’s suggestion that opposition to the TTIP trade deal is motivated by anti-American sentiment is somewhat ironic, given the scale of opposition to TTIP and its sister treaty the TPP in the US. The withholding of “fast track” negotiating authority from Obama by a hostile Congress could well prove the single most important factor in defeating this corporate power grab.

Nick Dearden

Director, World Development Movement, London SW9


Spanish a true world language

I would remind David Head (letter, 1 September) that one can travel from the Bering Strait to Tierra del Fuego with a knowledge of just two languages, English and Spanish. Unlike German, which is spoken mainly in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, Spanish is a world language and has been since the end of the 15th century with the Spanish colonisation of Central and South America. 

Rosemary Morlin



Baffled voters in Scotland

I recently took the opportunity to ask two young men at Glaswegian call centres which way they were going to vote in the independence referendum.

The first answered: “I can’t be bothered with all that nonsense.” The second said: “I haven’t really got the facts I need to make up my mind ... people who don’t vote will be counted as Noes, won’t they?”

If such understandable attitudes are widespread, what hope is there for a representative outcome to the referendum?

David Mitchell

Cromford, Derbyshire