War of Attrition

            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?’

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Apocalypse Now?

            I walked into the pub and saw Vicky polishing glasses at the bar. ‘I hear you had the covid,’ I said. ‘Yeah, it wasn’t too bad. A couple of days of headaches and congestion. It scared me though but I soon got over it. Troy, my son, probably brought it home from daycare. He never had any symptoms though. I now have two jabs and one recovery. Should be good for a while.’

            Everything seems so normal here: The pub, the lovely view, the beer. Meanwhile Europe is at war and the death, destruction and lasting impact on the world, the environment and the crippling psychological impact and devastation of Putin’s brutal war are ongoing. Ukraine is suddenly Aleppo or Srebrenica or worse. 

            When Camp walked and sat down, I knew that the war in Ukraine was the elephant in the room. No way we could not talk about that catastrophe. He plunked down his newspaper, I think it was the Globe and Mail, and sighed. ‘It doesn’t look good,’ he said.

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It was a cold and clear sunny day, with a faint promise of spring in the crisp air but reluctant to let go of the hand of old man winter. At the top of my agenda, indeed what kept me awake most of the night, is the bully-war, presently under way in the Ukraine. It’s not a pleasant topic but one that needs discussing, even though mine and Camp’s opinion feel so futile and inconsequential and yet I had to get it off my chest. Camp was already seated when I walked in. I took off my mask and sat down just as Vicky placed a frosty mug in front of me.

            ‘You want to talk about Putin’s invasion, don’t you?’ Camp said before I could utter a world. ‘It’s what he has always wanted, to be master of the universe and to bring back the USSR.’

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