Britain is at war with Russia. It may appear unimaginable. Your politicians might not perceive it. But imagine me — Vladimir Putin thinks the buddies of his enemies are the bitterest enemies of all.

Britain has loyally supported Ukraine for the reason that begin of the Russian invasion final February. And the dictator will always remember or forgive you for it.

Today, many Mail readers is perhaps worrying that, by growing armed assist to Ukraine, Britain and Nato are escalating the chance of all-out war with Russia.

But you could have to overcome that worry. Putin feeds on weak point.

BORIS BONDAREV: Britain is at war with Russia. It might seem incredible. Your politicians may not understand it

BORIS BONDAREV: Britain is at war with Russia. It may appear unimaginable. Your politicians might not perceive it

That’s why Boris Johnson’s cri de coeur within the Mail this week was so very important.

In sometimes Shakespearean language, the previous Prime Minister referred to as on the West to stiffen its sinews. That’s simply the spirit the world wants now.

I communicate as a deeply patriotic Russian. For 20 years, I labored within the Russian diplomatic service, earlier than resigning in disgust final May as a protest in opposition to the invasion — the one Russian diplomat to have achieved so to date.

I see how deluded Putin and his henchmen are, and the way they continue to be satisfied, regardless of every thing, that the West is too weak to resist their aggression.

But the reality is that for so long as Putin stays in energy, Europe won’t ever be protected from the specter of war with Russia, its state-backed terrorism or the spectre of nuclear annihilation it represents.

That’s why the combat should go on.

Putin holds 1000’s of strategic and long-range nuclear weapons in his arsenal. Their use is perhaps unthinkable to you — however not to him and his cronies.

This devastating armoury threatens all Nato nations, particularly the U.S., which has supplied extra provides to President Zelensky in Kyiv than some other ally.

Britain has loyally supported Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion last February. And the dictator will never forget or forgive you for it. Putin is pictured on January 25

Britain has loyally supported Ukraine for the reason that begin of the Russian invasion final February. And the dictator will always remember or forgive you for it. Putin is pictured on January 25

Germany, too, by agreeing this week to ship 14 Leopard 2 tanks (matching the 14 Challengers despatched by the United Kingdom), has taken a courageous and irrevocable step.

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It’s a daring gesture. But Zelensky has made it clear that a few dozen tanks won’t be sufficient. He wants at least 300.

The West has the potential to provide them — and it should achieve this with out hesitation.

Why? Because this is not a small war. Putin can name up an nearly limitless variety of conscripts as cannon fodder.

But though he’ll throw away big numbers of different males’s lives, that is not the identical as a military.

When the invasion started early final yr, the world overestimated Russia’s energy.

Several of my colleagues at the Russian Mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva believed the absurd claims of Putin’s generals that the ‘particular navy operation’ could be over inside 96 hours at most.

‘Now the West will take discover,’ they mentioned with satisfaction. ‘The Americans are cowards and the Europeans are weak. They don’t dare oppose us.’

That proved a delusion. Ukraine was doughty and defiant, and plenty of Western leaders, with Boris Johnson at the forefront, swiftly demonstrated their resolve.

But now, regardless of the most recent navy choices, that early willpower is turning to complacency. Instead of pouring out assist, even the UK is reluctant to commit all the help Kyiv wants. Germany hesitated for weeks earlier than deciding to ship its Leopard tanks.

Ukraine can not afford such delays if it is to win. For now, it is defying the chances. It could be a horrible mistake to underestimate Russia this yr — because it plans a devastating contemporary offensive within the spring — because it was overestimated in 2022.

I made the same mistake as Putin was getting ready for war. I underestimated his capability for crimes in opposition to humanity.

Throughout my profession, I’d had a rising sense that the corruption in my nation would finally overwhelm us. Ruled by a megalomaniac, ate up propaganda, with venality crippling each facet of our financial system, Russia was slowly being strangled.

But I believed within the resilience of the Russian individuals, and I hoped desperately that our nation may get well — even when it took one other 20 years and the remainder of my profession.

I used to be born in Moscow in 1980, right into a deeply patriotic household. My grandfather had been a hero of the Soviet Union, a fearless basic who led a Red Army rifle division in opposition to the invading Nazis throughout World War II, which we Russians name the ‘Great Patriotic War’.


Though I by no means knew him, he was an inspiring presence in our household: the tales of his braveness had change into legends. That’s why I felt so sickened when Russian troops marched into Ukraine final yr.

In 1944, our military was one among liberation, driving out the fascist murderers. But now, in 2022, we have been the invaders. My grandfather would have been appalled.

But in contrast to somebody dwelling in a democracy, I couldn’t make a easy gesture of protest. If I spoke out, I might lose my job and be exiled from my nation, which might by no means once more be protected for me.

Zelensky has made it clear that a couple of dozen tanks will not be enough. He needs at least 300. Here Ukrainian servicemen fire a gun towards Russian positions on January 24

Zelensky has made it clear that a few dozen tanks won’t be sufficient. He wants at least 300. Here Ukrainian servicemen hearth a gun in the direction of Russian positions on January 24

At the Mission in Geneva, I may inform nobody how I felt. Fortunately, 20 years in diplomacy is good coaching for sustaining an expert smile. Perhaps a few of my colleagues shared my unease, however we stored it from one another.

The solely particular person I may belief with my secret was my spouse, Stanislava. She, too, had been more and more disillusioned: she labored within the semi-private sector, with connections in industries supplying the navy complicated, and the corruption and incompetence she encountered have been blatant.

Last January she determined to stop, pre-empting my very own determination.

She understood how irritating I discovered it that my communiques to Moscow may by no means inform the reality. There have been no open lies or fabrications, however information had to be wearing layers of cautious wording.

Putin hears solely what he needs to hear, so no senior functionary ever needs to be instructed one thing which may displease the president.

At each layer of Russian officialdom, subordinates are chosen not on benefit, however for his or her loyalty, usually from amongst family and friends.

This, above all, is why the generals promised Putin that his invasion of Ukraine could be welcomed with cheers and flowers.

They half-believed it themselves — as a result of it was harmful to imagine anything.

The sooner they — in addition to Putin’s kleptocrat associates — realise the war is misplaced, the earlier the dictator shall be gone and his regime will crumble.

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During the previous few years, I’ve been repeatedly amazed to see what number of diplomats — together with some who’ve lived within the West for years — take it without any consideration that democracies aren’t any totally different from Russia.

In the Kremlin and in Russian embassies, officers confidently declare that collective energy and freedom are illusions.

They think about Joe Biden can cellphone a state governor and situation orders, similar to their very own president does. They imagine the judges do because the chief of police tells them, and that the chief of police is within the pay of organised gangs.

It was an enormous reduction for me to inform my boss that I couldn’t condone the war in Ukraine. But earlier than I may try this, Stanislava and I had to consider Simeon.

Simeon is our cat. He got here to us as a stray kitten on the streets of Moscow, and early final yr he was nonetheless in Russia, the place associates have been taking care of him.

We weren’t ready to depart him behind. After returning residence to save him in early 2022, my spouse discovered that all flights to Switzerland from Moscow had been halted. She flew as a substitute to Kaliningrad, a Russian metropolis between Lithuania and Poland, took a taxi to the border, and tried to cross on foot.

A Lithuanian guard turned her again, claiming our pet’s paperwork weren’t so as. The climate was bitterly chilly, and it took two days earlier than Stanislava was lastly in a position to depart Russia.

She landed, exhausted, in Geneva — with our beloved Simeon.

In May, after we had achieved every thing we may to safe our security, I issued a press release, declaring my opposition to the war.

Yes, my spouse and I are actually at risk from Putin, however so is everybody in Europe. We all need to stop pretending: the continent is at war. Now all that issues is that the correct aspect wins.

Boris Bondarev was a diplomat within the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2002-22, latterly as a counsellor at the Russian Mission to the UN Office in Geneva.

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