Welsh Europeans must stand with Ukraine – their fight is our fight too
Neil Schofield Hughes
For those of us who consider ourselves European, this is a desperately dark day. An illegal war of aggression is launched against a European democracy, by a power denying that country’s right to exist: it strikes at the heart of the very idea of liberal democracy.
And for we who have been part of the general European movement in Britain – who opposed Brexit, who see the catastrophe that Brexit was always going to be unfolding before us, and who argue that we must remain close to the EU and one day return – it is a reminder that Europe is far more than the 27 Member States of the European Union.
At the same time, we need to understand the links between Putin’s aggression against Ukraine and the history of Brexit. We need to remember the close ties between the British Right and Putin’s Russia (and how far the pro-Brexit Left was driven by a sort of post-Soviet nostalgia – the latter-day ‘tankies’ who make excuses for Putin now just as they did for the Soviet Union that invaded Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968).
And we need to recollect how the campaign to leave the EU was funded, and how many of those involved in that campaign have taken to social media in recent days to defend Russia’s aggression against Ukraine; and to understand – it’s a matter of public record – how far the Conservative Party that delivered Brexit is awash with Russian money.
Brexit and the attack on Ukraine have the same roots – ideological, financial and practical. Brexit was part of Putin’s strategy to destabilise the West, to undermine its ability to resist Putin’s imperial ambitions. And, with Boris Johnson unveiling a sanctions policy that essentially signals to Russian money that London remains open for business, who is to argue that he has not succeeded?
Europeans in Wales and beyond must join the dots. Brexit and the attack on Ukraine are inextricably linked (and Westminster politicians who talk about “making Brexit work” should reflect on the ideological nature of the project they – no doubt inadvertently – are appeasing).
The attack on Ukraine is an attack on every European. The European Union remains the most successful peace project in modern history: the values of the EU, set out in the Lisbon Treaty, of democracy, internationalism and freedom of expression; those are the values that aggression against Ukraine violates.
Ukraine’s fight is our fight too.
Neil Schofield Hughes is Chair of Cardiff For Europe, a board member of Wales for Europe, and one of Wales’ representatives on the National Council of the UK European Movement. The piece is written in a personal capacity.
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