Opinion with North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale: The Russian invasion of Ukraine

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale

As the song says, “When will they ever learn……”?

In 1956, when I was a thirteen year-old schoolboy, Russian tanks rolled into Hungary as a `peacekeeping` force to crush the anti-Soviet revolution led by Imre Nagy and to `liberate` the country from the breath of freedom that it had enjoyed for a long weekend. Imre Nagy was whisked off to Moscow for “discussions” and was never seen again alive. I remember sitting in our kitchen in Poole listening on an old valve radio to the voice of Budapest Free Radio screaming “For God`s sake help us…. For God`s sake help ……“.

Neither the Americans, who had wound up the revolutionaries to believe that they would support the new regime, nor anyone in the “free” western world lifted a finger to assist. Nagy was murdered in the Lubianka prison, I spent a bit of time fund-raising and collecting clothes and blankets for Hungarian refugees and life in Dorset returned to normal.

In 1968, a dozen years later, there was the `Prague Summer` when the Czechoslovakian people rose up against Soviet oppression and under the leadership of Alexander Dubcek declared that they had had enough of Soviet rule and wanted a taste of democracy. On August 20th (I remember the date because it is my birthday) the Russian tanks, manned by Mongolian troops imported to put down the revolution, screamed into Prague and again crushed the dissent. Dubcek was sent off to serve as a postmaster in a remote village and the game was over.  On the Sunday of that weekend fifty thousand people filled London`s Bayswater from the gates of the Russian Embassy back to Marble Arch in protest.

The pro-Russian student firebrand Tariq Ali spoke from atop a loudspeaker van in praise of the Russian `luberation` of the Czech and Slovak people. They then made the mistake of handing the microphone to me and within seconds fifty thousand people were chanting “Dubcek, Dubcek”.  But again, the West stood by and watched, no support was offered, and the revolution died.

The pattern of oppression has been consistent. Russia annexed two states of the independent Republic of Georgia in 2008 and again the `free` world watched and did nothing. In 2014 the Neo-Soviet Union walked into the Ukrainian Province of Crimea, brutally purged the Tatar community and declared Crimea, with its underground nuclear submarine bases in Sevastopol, to be a part of Russia. The West`s reaction? Diddly squat.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe removed the voting rights of the Russian delegation and the Russians walked off taking with them several millions of Euros in unpaid contributions to the costs of running the Assembly. Scroll forward four years and the PACE (the parliamentary assembly), strapped for cash, voted to let the Russians back in and pay again, with no further sanctions.

I am proud to say that the British delegation that I had the privilege to lead at time voted, with the Baltic States and a handful of other delegates, to deny the Russians re-admission. We did so because it was blindingly obvious that the `assurances` offered by a Kremlin Delegation that included Mr. Kalashnikov (yes, there is one), Mr Tolstoy and the man wo orchestrated murders in Chechnya, Mr Slutsky, were not worth the paper that they were written on.   I hesitate to say to those stalwart French and German men and women who took the Russian rouble-baited hook, line and sinker but you were warned.

For months neo-Soviet troops have been massing, first on the borders of the Donbas in Eastern Ukraine and more recently , with the acquiescence of Putin`s fellow dictator in Belarus, on the borders of that country and a spit and a  cough from Ukraine`s capital city of Kiev.  The free world chose to engage in `diplomacy` instead of, as we might have done, throwing the whole book of sanctions straight and immediately  at the walls of the Oligarch`s castles/ Bank Accounts/ Properties in the Home Counties and Central London and  children at British Public Schools. Warning sirens should have sounded long before the word `peacekeeping` fell from Putin`s lips. The scenario is, as the history above describes, straight from the KGB Colonel`s playbook.  We were warned. But once again we did not heed the warning.

“President” Putin must be brought, along with his McMafia henchmen, before the International Criminal Court in the Hague, for their war crimes and the Russian people must be liberated and have the money stolen from them returned to the public purse.

Over the phone from Kyiv, at an early hour on the morning of Thursday 24th February, I heard my young and very brave friend who is a member of the Ukrainian Duma echoing the words from 1956. “For God`s sake help us”.   If we, the Free West, fail to respond in a manner that even the blood-stained Putin can understand then it will be Ukraine, then Georgia,  Moldova, then either Finland or one of the Baltic States,  that will follow and trigger the start of World War Three and Armageddon.

As the banner in the closing shot of Neville Shute`s nuclear war movie “On the Beach” flapped over a deserted Australian town square proclaims, “There is Still Time Brother”.

But only just.


  1. Hey Rog… As Russia take Ukraine farmland so TDC and Gladmans take our farmland. While you waste time on an airport…. When is your condemnation of the Shottandane appeal going on record

  2. ??? Sire Roger Gale – freudian slip?
    the male parent of an animal, especially a stallion or bull kept for breeding.
    “the sire is one of the country’s top thoroughbred stallions”
    a respectful form of address for someone of high social status, especially a king.
    (of a male animal, especially a stallion) cause the birth of.
    “Castor twice sired two champions in a litter”

  3. 1956 – I remember it well – in a fit of patriotic exuberance we chalked ‘Down with Nasser’ all over the playground (and meanwhile the Red Tsar of the day crept into Budapest – you could see the bullet scars on public buildings 15 years later …)
    The generation that will recall the Sudetenland will mostly have passed on by now – plus ca change ? The Chancellor of the Exchequer may need to re-orientate his budgets more than somewhat.

  4. I applaud Sir Roger’s stirring anti-appeasement sentiments, but isn’t he a member of the party that is significantly funded by Russian money, and supportive of a financial and commercial establishment that welcomes money from all sorts of repressive regimes. I have also heard rumours that RSP has Russian backing, or is it ‘laundering’, for its Manston proposals. Might this be the point at which Sir Roger distances himself from this insane folly of a born-to-fail airport?

    • They ain’t doing too bad with all the free payments from the government so far for doing nothing other than a car park on the land. Where does this money actually come from?

  5. I understand how and why, NATO will not assist Ukraine, because they are afraid of a nuclear war (but governments fail to mention this). Despite not being a NATO member, they deserve help, they are being invaded by a DICKtator, and deserve help from around the world, not just silly sanctions, that will have little or no effect.

    We are told by using sanctions, they will not be able to continue with their military arsenal. Have the government not realised, they already have an arsenal much bigger than most countries, why would they need to buy more, do the governments not believe they planned for this. They have 13,000 tanks, compared to UK with 200, and France 240 (according to Polish MEP, Question time).

    I feel like it is time that we (citizens) started going over to join in and help, even though many people have no weapons training, we could all help in some way.

    During the Afghanistan conflict, many brave Europeans went over to fight against the Taliban.

  6. Of course Sir Rog “Windy” Gale has a very selective n memory. The uprising by the Hungarian Communist Party in 1956 coincided with the Tories imperialist attack on Egypt over Suez. The 1968 Prague Spring coincided with with the mass slaughter and bombing in Vietnam by the USA. Not surprising that Putin doesn’t believe or trust NATO when they lied to a weakened Gorbachev that they would not expand eastwards. Russia now knows these characters only respect military power. Wait until China takes back Taiwan and we will all see what paper tigers the US and NATO really are!

    • As they’re having trouble taking down the mighty Ukraine army right now, just who are you claiming is a paper tiger as a military power? If you really want to live in a world where Putin’s Fascist Russia and Communist China call all the shots, then perhaps you’re working for one or both…?

  7. NATO only exists because of Russian aggression you lefty fool .. Of course eastern country ASK to join with that Hitler/Putin character on their door step

  8. Only thing is : NATO existed first before Warsaw Pact. When the latter was wound up, should have been a good opportunity to put NATO to bed as well. Instead it has bombed and killed civilians in Belgrade, attacked Afghanistan and intervened in Libya. What any of these adventures have to do with the “North Atlantic” is anyone’s guess! Tories invariably turn a blind eye to massacres committed by their chums. Thousands have been slaughtered in Yemen by the Saudi murderers with weapons sold to them by the Tory Government – so no crocodile tears over Ukraine please.

    • Hmm. You have been watching too much propaganda comrade…
      The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union

    • Keith Veness ‘so no crocodile tears over Ukraine please’ the same crocodile tears you probably shed over innocent people murdered by the IRA? Were you not the agent for Corbyn at the 1983 General election in Islington North? Are you still a member of the Labour Party? If you are the Labour Party should hang it’s head in shame with such a person with your views in it!

        • Yes, the wonderful Labour Party was responsible for closing Kent and Canterbury Accident and Emergency department!!!!!!!!
          And yet they have the audacity to say that the NHS is ‘safe in their hands’

    • NATO got involved in Afghanistan at the behest of USA (A NATO member) following 9/11 – or don’t you see that as an ”attack”? Anyway, since WHEN have two wrongs equalled a right?

  9. There’s a far more complex debate to be had on what’s happening in Ukraine and what foreign influences have been doing there. Research widely and take mainstream media and politicians’ spin with a large pinch of salt – but it’s always helpful to have a bogey man to distract you from what’s happening in the West.

    • Your comments are symptomatic of those that might be made by a Conspiracy Theorist.
      You hint at arcane knowledge, to which only the cognoscenti are privy. You make oblique comments, without any references to back them up.
      You hint that MSM (whatever that is) is spinning a massive lie; you urge us to “do our own research”

      If you have an opinion about the legitimacy of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, then air it. If you want to make reference to political history to make your point, then do so.
      Otherwise you’re just wasting bandwidth.

    • The ”bogey-man’ isn’t real; Putin and his invasion of an independent, sovereign state without provocation are

  10. Sky news (26/2), reporting that Putin has threatened Finland and Sweden not to join NATO.

    Getting very complex now.

    Perhaps there is a possibility that Finland and Sweden could get involved at this point, by helping Ukraine. Many issues good/bad concerning this.

  11. I remember the Suez crisis, and when the East Germans tried to throw off the yoke of the USSR in 1953 wasn’t it. Then the Hungarian uprising in 1956, and Czechoslovakia in 1968, and I happened to be in the army, unwillingly during the Cuba Missile crisis in 1962, when we were told we would only have 4 minutes to live if Russia attacked with intercontinental missiles. I was well out of the army when the Americans invaded Vietnam, but terrified of being called up to join in had Wilson the Prime Minister at the time caved into demands by the USA, because I spent ten years in the reserves. Then we had the IRA blowing up pubs, until they realised this was counter productive, and switched mainly to military targets, but not always. That cost the lives of over 3,500 people, and maimed many thousands more.

    I survived the 2nd world war, but it was a close run thing, and my older sister Beryl didn’t and died in the blitz. I was hoping to leave this earth a better place than when I found it when I was born, but it doesn’t seem I will. If Putin invades the Baltic states next, which he will almost certainly do, because he is a paranoid psychotic megalomaniac, we may face Armageddon, the place where armies will gather for the end of the world, unless the world wakes up and stops him like they did Hitler.

  12. We’re all arm-chair experts.
    My thinking is that Putin will not put one soldier’s foot on the sovereign territory of a NATO country, because he will then be at war with 30 other countries, including the USA. There would not be a good outcome for Putin.
    Apropos Ukraine: I think that Putin has got himself into a pickle. Obviously he can take Ukraine by military might. He could pound the country to ribble. But what’s the point?
    If he manages to depose the current democratic government with one of his own, then he’ll have to keep 100,000s of troops in Ukraine- troops that will be (just like Afghanistan) targets for resistance fighters.
    But how can he back out of this shambles and not lose face?

  13. Putin’s speech last weekend was eerily reminiscent of Hitler’s speech justifying his invasion of Czechoslovakia because of the so-called ill-treatment of ethic German’s in the Sudetenland portion of Czechoslovakia. Since then Putin has made dangerous statements concerning other former Soviet Bloc countries and how he does not recognise their existence.
    And if you want proof of Putin’s long term aims for Russia you only needed to note the armoured columns advancing into Ukraine all flying the Red Flag of the former U.S.S.R.

  14. Hi,

    The BBC should show Threads Again & Wargame & ITV the Day After to show the Horrors of what we could all face from a miscalculation by Nato & Russia in the Baltics. The world could be on precipice not seen since 1962.Lets hope that a way out of this mess is available when a compromise was found to end the Cuban Missile crisis.

  15. You can only condemn Putin if you are honest enough to condemn the Saudi massacres in Yemen (with arms sold them by the Tories) & similar massacres of the Rohinga in Myanmar, the slaughter of Yesidi in Syria and Iraq and China’s genocide towards the Uighurs. As a socialist I condemn n all these. Hopefully the Russian incursion into Ukraineine will end – a lot of these other genocides have been going on for years and in some cases decades. Speak out on all of them!

    • Keith Veness, you talk absolute rubbish, each of the wars/conflicts has a completely different set of circumstances. Yes, mistakes were made in some cases, but you can’t compare any to the current Ukraine crisis.

      You would be very hard pushed to find anyone that supports Putin, as you do.

      Do you think people enjoy watching those poor Ukraine children, having to live in train tunnels, or people having to flee from their own house. Or maybe you enjoy the pictures on the TV of women and children arming themselves making petrol bombs, in preparation to fight against tanks and armoured vehicles.

      You are nothing but a burke, commenting on anyone who dares to have a different opinion to yours. Guess what? That’s how a democratic society operates, not like yourself trying to be a dick (oops! Sorry I mean a dictator), like your best pal, Putin.

      • Sorry Phil, I didn’t see anything in Keith Veness’s piece supporting Putin, he condemned all acts of attrition, including Russia’s! I found myself in the army, unwillingly in 1962 during the Cuban Missile crises, and we were all given just 4 minutes to live had Russia let loose its Intercontinental nuclear missiles.

        The Berlin wall had just gone up, and my cousin had to do an extra six months National Service as he was stationed there! I was racing around in a truck, having passed my driving test in just 7 hours, doing 2 hours on duty, and 4 hours off for 10 days! I only had one accident when at night I turned right, up a railway track! I keep having flashbacks now, but at the time Britain had 55,000 troops in BAOR Germany as part of our NATO commitment! What worries me now is that Putin has threatened using nuclear weapons, but what ones? In my time both sides had what was known as Battlefield Nuclear weapons, that could fire a nuclear shell about 12 or 15 miles, to devastating effect! I believe these were eventually banned universally, because they were considered as being “Mutually Assured Destruction” or MAD! Has Putin still got them?

        • Then tough luck, Keith Veness shouldn’t try to be so awkward with his comments trying to slam others down, while supporting Putin, by suggesting Europe is at fault.

  16. Marva Rees 3 posts in the spate of 2/3 minutes after 11pm last! On an earlier post this week you were calling for the comments section to be suspended on this website. I suggest a period of silence from you would be welcome!

  17. Astonishing just how ignorant the rag bag collection of Tories and Kippers are down here. Most of the problems in Europe go back to 1945 and the “big three” @ the Yalta and Potsdam conferences. Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt divvied up Europe on who got what, ignoring national minorities and any democratic choices. Attlee and Truman subsequently replaced Churchill and Roosevelt without any significant changes.We are all still paying the price. For the record, I don’t support Putin but negotiations will have to start to sort this mess out and the sooner the better. The strange bloke who will not use his full and proper names till has nothing to say on Yemen. A dead Yemeni and a dead Ukrainian are equally tragic!

  18. More nonsense from the Tories – yes two wrongs don’t make a right. However, the doctor rather rewrites history. The 11th September 2001 attacks were carried out by a group, 15 of which were Saudi citizens and the others were various Arabs. Not a single Afghan (or Iraqi for that matter) yet the US and its NATO hangers on invaded a land thousands of miles away from where the perpetrators came from. However that is not aggression. This started the process that created the twenty years of war and the US finally fleeing and leaving the place to the religious maniacs of the Taliban. So no, I don’t think NATO are a force for good.

    • Keith Veness

      Nobody disputes there were mistakes with the invasion of Afghanistan etc, and people mostly agree that we were lied to, or deceived by politicians, and foreign governments, but that is still no reason to support Russia, or brag about having crocodile tears for Ukraine.

      I would be careful if you are outside giving your comments, in your case you would probably do better, going over and helping the Russians, just one idiot joining lots of others.

    • In response to Keith Veness, yes perhaps you should go and join the mighty failing red army, perhaps you could also wear a red nose, at least if you look like a clown, you would blend in.

  19. Marva Rees your last comment regarding private parts. Why the nastiness and vitriol? You obviously need some therapy to rebalance your life. .

  20. Er no. Just post using your proper and full name or don’t bother at all. What have you got to hide?

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