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When it comes to Russia, there are only two possible outcomes

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Sunday 17 March 2024 19:40 GMT
We must get tough, or get peace – although the latter may not last long
We must get tough, or get peace – although the latter may not last long (AP)

Much more must be done by the West to produce a united and coordinated response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, within the framework of a coherent strategic plan. If there is such a plan, it is neither apparent nor effective, and must now anticipate reduced commitment by the US if Donald Trump is re-elected. That would be unfortunate, but Europe would benefit in the long term by reinforcing its own military capacity to the point where it becomes able to support Ukraine’s needs, and ultimately defend its own borders effectively, with less reliance on America.

Ukraine cannot win with the present level of slow, fluctuating, reactive and inadequate military support. If the UK and its allies do not endow Ukraine with superior strength and enable it to exert overwhelming force (the two things Putin really understands), then peace negotiations are the only way to stop the killing. The price for this would probably mean permanent loss of territory for Ukraine and an emboldened Russia – bringing with it the potential for further conflict.

Funding the support required to transform Ukraine’s military capabilities may involve a degree of economic hardship for the UK and other allies, but the alternative if Putin prevails could be much worse. Russia is on a war footing with 40 per cent of its budget devoted to military expenditure (around 10 per cent of its GDP) and is rearming and remobilising. Funding is only one half of the equation for the West; unity and cast-iron resolve are the other vital components.

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