As the war in the Ukraine continues unabated, there are two facets of this horrific and unnecessary conflict that stand out for me. I voiced my concerns to Camp over a pint of beer, looking out at the peaceful paradise of Howe Sound and the picturesque harbour of Gibsons. So far removed from all the hurt and wars and yet, thanks to our up-to-the-minute coverage of all that goes on in this world, unable to escape the fact that we are all connected.
‘The first thing that strikes me is, while the Ukrainian economy is being devastated and its infrastructure demolished, Russia’s cities and industries have not been bombed and attacked, and despite sanctions, are able to stumble along. Families are ripped apart and uprooted and the remaining 35mil Ukrainians are traumatized and face a potential famine because they cannot plant, harvest and process their wheat and crops. Secondly, while more and more heavy arms flow from the west into the Ukraine, Russia finds itself in a war not against NATO but against the west’s military and arms industry and capability, including leading technology and advanced systems which have not been used in the theater of war before. The kind of war Russia was not prepared for and is certainly loath to be up against.’
Camp nodded. ‘In 1994, Ukraine gave up all its nuclear weapons. In return it received solemn ‘assurances’ in the Budapest Memorandum that Russia, the UK and the US would refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine. How did that turn out?’
‘Yes, it seems that all these lofty agreements from the Geneva Convention, that establish international legal standards for humanitarian treatment in war – a bit of an oxymoron there – to the Minsk Agreement, guaranteeing Ukrainian state borders, are so much wasted paper. Atrocities are being committed and recorded, mostly by the invaders and occupiers, which will all go unpunished, I fear.’
‘One solution which has been suggested by Fareed Sakaria, a CNN anchor, is a reproachment between MBS, Mohammed Bin Salman, the ruler of Saudi Arabia, the Arab Emirates, Israel, Egypt and the US. In return for pumping more oil which will bring down the global energy prices and stopping the war in Yemen the US guarantees protection. This would stabilize the middle-east and help to ween Western Europe of Russian fossil fuel. That would hurt and cost Russia.’
‘Meanwhile gas supplies are being cut off by Russia, the war is heating up, more heavy weapons are being supplied to Ukraine and Putin has threatened to pull all the stops, including nuclear options. Does this war have an end?’
‘No, I don’t think so,’ Camp said, shaking his head. ‘It will be a long, drawn-out war of attrition that will bring no peace to anybody. Putin will never step back or admit defeat of any sort.’
‘It is unbelievable that we are even talking about a mechanized war in Europe, all because of one man’s hubris and hate. Putin is a misanthrope of the worst kind, willing to sacrifice all for his own delusional ambitions.’
‘Does anybody consider the carbon footprint this war is having on an already beleaguered climate? How much fuel do you think a tank uses? 2-3 gallons per mile or 10 liters per kilometer,’ Camp answered his own question. ‘An armored division can use as much as 600,000 gallons of fuel a day.’
‘Not to mention all the other support vehicles, helicopters and jets. I’m trying to cut down my own fuel consumption and ride my e-bike every chance I get. Kind of seems silly in the big picture.’
‘Well, my friend, you and I can only do so much but even if it’s symbolic, we must do what we can. I’m walking to the store now and hardly ever use the car. Good for my health, Muriel says, and saves on fuel.’
‘Ready for another one?’ Vicky said, and without waiting for an answer, exchanged our empties. ‘That was my joke of the day.’
We laughed. Vicky nailed it once again. Without laughter, this vale of tears is just not acceptable.