Peter Young: Boris in Ukraine – brave or reckless?

What to cover in a weekly column should be decided in advance to allow time for research. As the world watches the war in Ukraine materialize in all its horrific reality, I had planned to write today about the failure of the United Nations—the body whose primary function is to maintain world peace—to take meaningful action to stop it. But, despite the continued coverage of this issue, it seemed important to draw attention mainly to the unexpected news, which was revealed at the weekend, about the visit of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Ukraine.

For obvious security reasons, planning for his trip to Kyiv on Saturday was kept a secret, so it was a complete surprise to the general public. This followed a previous visit in the same week by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Although Moscow withdrew its forces from Kyiv to redeploy in the eastern Donbass region, this was a high-risk visit that included a tour of the capital with the Ukrainian president. Reportedly, Mr Johnson himself was intent on making the trip despite the risks of going into what is still a war zone and is the first G7 leader to travel to Kyiv since the Russian invasion on February 24. Travel by train from Poland.

The prime minister’s trip came shortly after the announcement of more significant military assistance from the UK to Ukrainian forces including anti-tank, anti-aircraft weapons and so-called “suicide drones”. As happened after the discovery of mass killings of civilians in different parts of the country – atrocities described as nothing less than evil and whose perpetrators must be held accountable. Johnson himself said that because of these war crimes, Putin’s reputation would be “permanently tainted,” as Russia becomes increasingly isolated in the global community.

He and President Volodymyr Zelensky are said to have established a close working relationship with regular contact through phone calls after the latter’s sincere and highly effective speech last month via video link to the UK Parliament in Westminster.

In their face-to-face meeting on Saturday, the prime minister said he wanted to discuss the UK’s long-term support for Ukraine. He put in place a new package of financial and military aid and pledged to provide 120 armored vehicles with anti-ship missiles. He praised Zelensky’s assertive leadership, telling him “the Ukrainian people are a lion and you are their roar”, with the Ukrainian leader praising him in return by replying that the UK would “make history” and calling Boris Johnson. “One of the fiercest opponents of the Russian invasion, a leader in sanctions pressure on Russia and defensive support for Ukraine”.

But all this comes against the background of the continued need for NATO unity in the West’s response to Putin’s unwarranted and unwarranted attack, as well as a coordinated approach to ending the EU’s energy dependence on Russia. Equally important were NATO’s self-imposed restrictions on any action that could precipitate a wider war, including restrictions on the type of military involvement in the form of equipment, weapons, and other types of support.

It appears that these limits may have been crossed by some individual countries by providing individual support – including, for example, tanks and rocket launchers provided by the Czech Republic. Of course, details of military support, weapons, and equipment are not available to the general public. But after Boris Johnson’s visit, questions were raised in the British press about whether Britain was in line with the overall response to NATO or if it was breaking the organization’s unity.

Critics also question the purpose of his visit. Was it just to show solidarity or was he hoping to achieve something specific? For those responsible for his safety, that must have been a security nightmare. Did the British Prime Minister show real courage and leadership as a statesman in a global crisis or was it just a public relations stunt? Was it heroic or reckless and unnecessary?

Opinions differ on the need, efficacy, and wisdom of Boris Johnson’s willingness to travel to Kyiv in such potentially dangerous circumstances. Personally, I think he should be commended for taking this initiative. Meanwhile, a quick examination reveals that the many comments from readers published by British newspapers in response to their articles appear generally so positive that the Prime Minister is seen by many as taking pride in Britain through his direct involvement. Furthermore, historians remind us that despite the threat to his personal safety, Churchill would regularly travel to hot spots during World War II to see for himself what was happening, and thus be better prepared to make military decisions to hasten the end of World War II. the war.

But, despite the differences of opinion, one thing is certain – it has been demonstrated, at least, by the so-called Brexit hardliners, who have argued that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU would lead to national isolation in a country led by a clown. To be off the mark.

The structure of the United Nations must reflect global realities

Returning to the collective failure of the United Nations with its 192 member states to take effective action to end the Ukraine war, it is generally agreed that this is the largest crisis of the organization’s authority – practical, moral and legal – since the US-led invasion. Iraq in 2003. The United Nations Secretary-General described it as one of the greatest challenges to the “international order and global peace architecture” ever.

To many, it is shocking that the principles enshrined in the United Nations’ founding Charter in 1945, primarily intended to support peace between sovereign states, have been torn apart by Russia, with the Kremlin ignoring the Secretary-General’s pleas for an immediate end to hostilities. . At the same time he brutally ignored the applicable humanitarian laws of war.

In the 1930s, the League of Nations gradually failed because it was unable to maintain world peace, not least because the United States never joined it. Then the United Nations emerged from the ruins of World War II, the apparent motive among its signatories being that the horrors of the worst and most destructive global conflict in history “must not be repeated.” The preamble to the United Nations speaks of the determination that future generations must be saved from the scourge of war, and that it is necessary to maintain international peace and security.

These commitments have been ignored by Putin’s regime, and China has also failed to abide by the UN Charter, while countries like India have been sitting on the fence in response to the Russian invasion. At the beginning of March, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution demanding that Russia immediately end all military operations, but this was ignored by the Kremlin. Three weeks later, I passed another resolution insisting on the entry of relief agencies and the protection of civilians. This was similarly ignored.

The 15-nation Security Council – five of which are permanent members (the United States, Britain, China, Russia and France) and have veto power over its decisions – has already proven its impotence. In the days following the invasion, a resolution was passed condemning it to failure after being rejected by Russia. In addition, the UN Security Council is unable to initiate action in response to President Zelensky’s call for him to take measures to stop the genocide. However, at least the UN Human Rights Council, which voted last week to suspend Russia from the council, has launched an investigation into the invasion and war crimes.

Others, who know more about the history of the United Nations and are more familiar with its procedures, may disagree, but I think that there is a broad school of thought, if the Organization as it is currently created is unable to act decisively when the rules-based international order has been broken, which is not More than just a shop to talk about and in need of repair – although the UN, of course, does a lot of good work in other areas through its specialized agencies.

One idea is to expand the permanent membership of the UN Security Council to countries such as Japan, Brazil, India, South Africa, and Germany and remove the veto. This has been under discussion for years. But looking at the bigger picture, many people believe it is time for a new founding conference like that in San Francisco in 1945 in order to relaunch the United Nations as an organization to work in ways that reflect the global balance of power and priorities. of the twenty-first century.

President Biden goes on to say before the Russian invasion that it would “lead to massive loss of life and human suffering” and that the United States and its allies would respond “in a united and decisive manner.” This is what happened. But because of Russia’s veto, the UN can do more than condemn that country rather than take tougher action against it. In Britain, there are now calls for Russia to be stripped of its veto and even removed from the Security Council. Evidence is that more and more people consider it unusual for one country with nuclear weapons to decide to annex another and the United Nations can do nothing useful to stop it – even given the risk of escalation of hostilities through military action and initiating a broader conflict.


Augusta at its best

The commentator asked while playing the weekend what is the most prominent event on the golf calendar in the world – is it better than this – and he wasn’t exaggerating. For golf lovers, there can be few experiences better than witnessing a final sunlit day of the annual Masters Championships at Augusta National in Georgia where winning is the pinnacle of golfing achievement.

In general, it is unparalleled in environment and atmosphere, and this year was no exception. So what a joy it was to follow the excellent TV coverage, especially the closing stages on Sunday afternoon.

The fact that Irishman Rory McIlroy seemed to come out of nowhere to challenge the eventual winner, Scotty Scheffler of Texas, made it all the more interesting to us from across the pond. Although he ended up with three strokes behind him, what a stunning performance by McIlroy on the 64th card – matching the lowest score ever for a Masters final round – including an amazing vault shot on the last green.

In 2019, Tiger Woods returned at the age of 43 after a string of injuries and personal issues to claim a stunning one-stroke win and claim his fifth Masters title. This year, after recovering from serious injuries from a nasty car crash, he not only entered but played well enough to make the cut, though his game faltered on Saturday because – he said – he missed a lot of shots. This was the 25th anniversary of his memorable victory in 1997 when he was just 21 years old – and apparently, due to his constant walking difficulties, it was such a miracle that he even managed to participate.

At the risk of repeating what I wrote in this column three years ago, even those with little interest in golf or knowledge of the game will surely acknowledge the high quality and excellent organization of this amazing annual sporting event that attracts huge numbers of spectators. The master’s program is a great example of the best that America has to offer.

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