Many years ago, I worked on a Russian rig supply ship in Vietnam. My suspicious translator initially thought I was a capitalist spy, when he realised I knew the English equivalent for the Russian writing on the bridge instruments. I just knew ships.
Over the next few days it was gratifying to see the scales of a lifetime of indoctrination gradually fall from his eyes as, through casual conversation, I destroyed all the myths about the West that he had been taught.
When we see a photo of a bombed hospital, we can’t from this distance guarantee the perpetrator, leaving room for it to be used as propaganda. But the Russian soldier is not stupid and, as he fights his way into Ukraine, there will come a time when he asks himself why he is greeted by bullets and not, as he has been told by Putin, crowds of enthusiastic liberated people bearing flowers. The truth about the lies he has been told will eventually filter back to more and more Russian civilians.
It is said that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. Putin has been following an almost a mirror image of Hitler’s actions and look how well that went for him. Before invading Russia, Corporal Hitler massed his troops on their borders claiming they were just on training exercises. This was followed by claims that they were being attacked to justify their actions. Sound familiar?
It is hubris. Neither Hitler then, nor Putin now, cared about how much is destroyed or how many are killed, wounded or displaced.
Some of Hitler’s generals were so concerned by his actions that they tried to remove him. Do not those in charge of the army, who know the truth, not have the same obligation to history and humanity?
Graham Lascelles, Wootton.