Iain Dale 7pm - 10pm
If the West does not enable Ukraine to prevail against Putin, all of our other problems will seem trivial
15 September 2023, 17:15
The juxtaposition of the ‘axis of evil’ meeting in eastern Russia this week, perhaps to peddle nuclear technology for ammunition, and the Western world's armies meeting in London at the largest military supermarket on the planet is more than ironic.
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Putin, perhaps, is offering Kim Jong Un a nuclear dream in return for ‘plough shears’ while the most sophisticated tech and drones that do horrifically precise destruction to Russian hardware are on offer to the highest bidder in east London.
It may all seem rather banal, but if the West does not enable Ukraine to prevail against the ‘Tyrant’ everything else vexing us at the moment will be irrelevant.
But is the Kremlin taking Kim for an idiot? Probably, as it did the equally tyrannical regime in Tehran in the exchange for military capability to elongate the war long enough for the US and Europe to lose interest, and politicians to concentrate on their own survival rather than that of Ukraine.
For somebody who rarely sets foot outside the Kremlin, relying on allegedly at least two doppelgangers to represent him further afield, the fact he is travelling thousands of miles to meet the plump ‘tinpot’ dictator may suggest desperation.
It is clear that Russian troops are getting through biblical amounts of ammunition with not much impact or effect, but to go to North Korea presumably to buy back ancient Soviet era artillery shells looks extremely bad for the Kremlin.
At the same time the military procurers of and for Ukraine, have been looking at the latest and cleverest means of destruction at the DSEI arms fair at the ExCel in east London this week.
Perhaps Putin believes that a nuclear-capable despot in the Far East will so distract and worry the US and NATO that its focus and efforts in Ukraine will diminish. But this is all based on the Putin nuclear lie or rather deceit.
He has threatened Ukraine and the West with nuclear attack from the get-go in order to keep NATO at arm’s length, but the greater his threats, the greater NATO’s involvement and resolve.
Putin seems to ignore, and Kim probably does not understand, that the nuclear epitaph of mutually-assured destruction has kept the peace for 75 years and will do so for another 75.
Why would Putin want to destroy the planet if he has put so much store in a land grab in eastern Europe? He might be evil beyond comprehension, but he is not a deranged fool as some would believe. I’m not sure the same is true for the North Korean dictator, but he is likely Putin’s lap dog and will dance to the Kremlin’s tune.
Certain US generals are suggesting Ukraine has another 30 days' decent weather to push home the counter-offensive. Let’s not forget that the dreadful winter storms of eastern Europe are going to sap the fragile morale of the Russian conscript far more than the determination of the Ukraine soldier to kick them back to Russia.
As NATO generals review all their latest hardware in London this week, let’s hope some of the Western leaders and politicians’ also come with their chequebooks open on behalf of Kyiv.
Had they done this a year ago, F16s would be patrolling the skies of the Donbas and Putin would be digging salt in the mines of eastern Russia, rather than drinking vodka with Kim and filling up his military trains with North Korean ammo destined for the schools and hospitals of Ukraine.
After 19 months the West has surely learnt that the Russian military threat must be dispatched as soon as possible and the best way to do that is by enabling Ukraine to kick them back to Russia. Such is the damage already to the Russian war machine that it will pose little threat to NATO for a decade or more.
The most dangerous threat is in the east, and it is not North Korea that NATO and the West must focus towards.
With Chinese spies apparently working in plain sight in the House of Parliament, Beijing’s penetration may be much deeper than first thought. We can probably bully Russia militarily in future, but China could be a very different proposition and should garner as much of our attention as the defeat of Russia in Ukraine.