Opinion with South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay: The reality on the ground in Ukraine

Kyiv, Ukraine Image Ruslan Lytvyn

I write my regular piece on the back of what is important to report to you, sometimes on local issues, sometimes on more national ones. It is obvious that there is but one issue on my mind this week.

When I wrote just two weeks ago, we were in the sabre-rattling phase based on the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. I always apply logic as well as trying to get into the thinking, planning and outcomes of what may be going on in the thought processes of people. I tried to apply this to Putin and I have been proved entirely wrong; I never saw this happening.

The inescapable conclusion is that the man is unhinged as there are none of the usual reasons – more land, raw materials, wealth applying to Ukraine that he could possibly want or need. This is a war of empire, of an attempt to recapture the glory of a former Russia as interpreted through the mindset of an erratic and failing leader with a desire to install a puppet government to Kyiv much in the shape of Lukashenko in Belarus. History was there with his annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and the West did little.

The retreat from Afghanistan in August last year may have been the signal that the US was simply off of the stage in terms of foreign policy and projection of international power with the rest of NATO and western allies too weak to do anything alone.

As I write an invasion is in progress and nuclear threats are also on the table. The West’s response with the deepest economic sanctions ever seen and ongoing provision of advanced weaponry may prove decisive in bolstering solid resistance by the Ukrainian armed forces and populace but I think we have to be realistic about the overwhelming forces and weaponry at the disposal of the Russians.

Perhaps the Russian combatants themselves will see the reality on the ground – the Ukrainians are not begging to be saved as they’d probably been told and the real spectre of war crimes will hang over their heads. Despite being a more closed economy than most with heavy state control over domestic media, real news will get through. The economic effects will now be felt by the Russian people – a devaluing currency, massive interest rate hikes and an economy in free-fall with a shortage of basics.

Russian mothers will see the reality of their sons and daughters coming home in body-bags. There is no way back for Putin, the only way that Russia could possibly be taken back into the fold of international acceptability will be regime change.

China now becomes important. We live in a globalised economy and Putin’s new cosy relationship with China could delay economic collapse. Logic should dictate they realise the danger of propping up an evil regime – we live in hope. When history is written, this will be deemed the ‘Natural gas war.’

The madness underpinning all of this is that we have financed the strengthened Russian war machine because of the policy of reliance on Russian gas, coal and other raw materials to the tune of $100 Billon per year, twice Russia’s annual defence budget. Putin’s coffers are full on the back of a decade long failure of European energy policy, which we now must reverse.

It is not for nothing that I have been writing for months about the failures of UK and Europe’s energy policy and why I started up the new Net Zero Scrutiny Group of Conservative MPs. We must frack for gas, we must dash to new nuclear and if that means a sensible re-appraisal of the path to Net Zero with an arbitrary date of 2050, then so be it. Blame Vladimir Putin.


  1. Mr Mackinlay says we’ve helped the Russian economy over the years but we have done more for China – our dependence on them is immense. Their industries supply most of our goods and our spending has helped them create a massive military machine. When they invade Taiwan (and they will) the West will be helpless. It’s time to reduce our dependence on both countries, permanently.

  2. We don’t need another opinion from our local MP’s. What we need is working toilets on the Margate seafront. Address the rubbish issues in Thanet, that’s where you MP’S need to put your energy. Just deal with the issues on your side of the fence!!!

  3. It is all about NATO encroachment and a total disregard for the suffering of Russian-speakers in the Eastern part of Ukraine. They have been the daily targets of Ukrainian nationalist militias since 2014. That year, a democratically elected pro-Russian government in Kiev was overthrown by violence egged on by the USA. I would love to see Russia and China get together to form a new bloc with their own financial system, independent of the West. Others would join them. The sooner Woke-dominated USA goes down the pan the better. More wars have been caused by the USA since 1945 than all other nations combined. Wake up Britain and don’t believe Tory propaganda. Putin is not mad. He simply had no choice.

    • When will you and Jeremy Corbyn be joining your Sino/Soviet friends?Do the Ukraine people look like they want mad Putin to liberate them?
      We have become too dependent upon the Chinese for our excessive wants and Russia for fuel.
      I am sure the Chinese will go for Taiwan and people like you will justify their actions

    • Quite right Robert Edwards, there is a long and detailed history here which the lazy politicians and bought mainstream media can’t be bothered to explore or publish on. Mackinlay’s references to Putin show that he has no clue about diplomacy or the history of the region. That is shameful.

    • Woke dominated and Tories in the same comment and lumped together. You have no idea what you are talking about. You are raging against the machine and raging against those opposing the machine. Bonkers. Being “awake” is not a bad thing. Just saying.

      • Here’s a thought Andrew, when you voted to leave the EU did you know what the Terms & Conditions would be? If you did you would be the only one in Britain who knew, because there were no T & C’s, so you voted for something you hadn’t a clue about! The other day I met a man who I have been on nodding terms with for some years, and he asked me how I was doing? I replied and said I was depressed about the war in Ukraine. He replied and said “Nothing to do with us, we have left the EU”. Astonished I said its nothing to do with the EU, are America, Canada, and Turkey in the EU then? He didn’t reply, because he was an example of ignorance, insularity, and xenophobia! He should have the right to vote taken away from him, as should all the others who voted to leave the EU who were conned by Boris Johnson into believing £350 million a week would go towards the NHS if we left the EU, and who instead cut nurses pay!

        It was NATO of course this stupid man confused with the EU, and NATO is the only safeguard we have to stop Putin’s lunatic adventure in Ukraine, especially if he launches nuclear weapons, in which case we will all suffer, globally!

        What will Putin achieve if he conquers Ukraine? Nothing, because the countries infrastructure will have been destroyed, and it will be a waste land. And who will be next? The Baltic states, which have a small Russian speaking population too, which means we are only millimetres away from a 3rd World War!

  4. Very interesting Craig,but as always a bit off the mark.
    Why is it when brutal authoritarian figures sanction war crimes, they are deemed to be mad.At the same time Hitler,the Nazis and Munich in 1938, are always resurrected.These are tired old tropes and don’t explain or help an understanding of what is going on.
    Putin may have a personality disorder,but he could not exist within a democratic system (or could he?).
    Had Lavrentiy Pavlovic Beria(Putin’s predecessor in the NKVD or KGB or FSB, whatever you want to call the tools of oppression) succeeded in replacing Joseph Stalin, this is what it would have been like.
    Uprisings in E Germany,Poland,Czechoslovakia and most of all Hungary in 1956, were all dealt with in the same way.
    The difference here, is that the resistance is more organised and widespread, as in Finland in 1939,Vietnam in 1954 + 1968, Adowa in Abyssinia in 1896, and in Afghanistan countless times.
    If you underestimate the enemy, who are prepared tolerate enormous losses,or expect your army to operate without a proper briefing and have no clear objective, other than domination,and a quick win, sometimes things come unstuck, and this may be happening here.
    Even if Putin wins he loses.The stain on Russia, will not be easily expunged. It is very likely that NATO will expand to include Finland and Sweden, which is the direct opposite of what Putin/Russia, wants to achieve.NATO will now tool up,outspend Russia, and we will all be the losers.
    As for the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, forget it.
    Even if we can Frack for gas safely, and that is a big if, it will be sold at world market prices.If Craig wants to drill for oil and gas in Surrey and Hampshire, be my guest, but expect to lose seats in the ‘Blue wall’, because that is where the gas and oil might exist.
    It will also take ages and create constant legal battles. Nuclear takes ages to build and there is still no long term waste deposit site after 70 years of nuclear generation.
    It’s not all going to happen up north in terra incognita ,Craig!
    What can we do now? Very short term: Drive less, wear more warm clothing, and try to be careful over heating and lighting, and oh yes! Levy a windfall tax on the overmighty energy corporations, with their ‘Cash machine’ energy operations.We might also look at providing more help to the poorest in society.
    Medium term: insulate. The 29m homes could be insulated at £40k each for £1.16bn, that is less than Test Track and Trace spent each month(1.8Bn)over 2 years, or 1/50th of the cost of HS2.So no Craig, insulation is not an unaffordable, pipe dream, it is possible provided that nincompoops and fraudsters are kept out,and not, as in the Green Deal, or ‘cash for ash’ in N.Ireland.Come to think of it, that cost nearly half of what an insulation scheme would cost.
    Long term: Ramp up renewables, build interconnectors across Europe, so sunny places like Algeria.Morocco, Spain, even Italy, can earn hard cash by supplying the North with solar energy, and of course there is tidal and geo thermal energy from various sources.Not easy, not simple, but likely to be more resilient.
    So there you have it. Support Ukraine, insulate the UK, switch to renewables, and forget all about Craig.

  5. Gosh Craig, you are just vile, aren’t you?!
    Stop trying to make fracking a thing.. it’s not going to happen!!

  6. Craig continues to spout rubbish. His Net Zero Scrutiny Group denies science, ignores facts, and continuously regurgitates the same old rubbish. His Conservative party has had more than a decade to insulate, remove Britain’s dependence on foreign oil and gas, promote green energies, and what has it done. F-all, because it’s funded by big fossil fuel industries and Russian money. Not only do we need regime change in Russia, we need it here in Britain. Take back our country, not from Europe, but from the lying, cheating, money grubbing Conservatives.

  7. Good that Putin’s special forces have taken out the bio weapons labs housed in Ukraine by special interest groups of a not very benign nature (much overseas reporting strangely absent in the UK press). Research the negative Western influences in Ukraine and the Biden family’s appearance on company boards there. Look at how Nato started to establish military positions in Ukraine, although Ukraine is not a NATO member. Or look at some proper reporting from the likes of the UK Column and 21st Century Wire (both of which are not left or right wing as they believe non of the spin from any of the political parties). There is a much wider and more complex story of Western influences here, which the simplistic sabre rattlers deliberately ignore as they attempt to mislead the British public yet again.

    • Is it, or is it not, a fact that Russia has invaded a sovereign nation, and is indiscriminately killing civilians?
      Are you saying that this isn’t actually happening?

      • Sorry if I got it wrong earlier Andrew, I am visually impaired and have to wear a magnifying class on my head, and Amber coloured fitover glasses supplied by the RNIB to see the screen! I have been puzzled by why Putin wants to ruin Ukraine’s infrastructure etc by shelling and bombing, when he has stated that Ukraine is part of Russia, but Russia is bankrupt, and can never rebuild it! The only reason that comes to mind, is he is going for Armageddon, and then Gotterdammerung!

        • Destroying the infrastructure is a common war tactic. If you can cut off gas, electric, water, TV, Internet, telephones etc, then it is more likely that people will suffer, and more likely to surrender.

          You would have been expecting him to attempt this on day one, but this didn’t happen, because the Ukrainians were too well prepared. You would expect an enemy attack to be by surprise, but not in this case as Putin spent several weeks/months amassing his forces on the border, letting others see, and expecting and preparing.

          But like you say Dumpton, if unfortunately Putin does succeed, the country would have been destroyed, costing billions just to sort utilities, let alone the buildings.

          But as we know, Putin has no care for his own Russian people, why would he feel sorry for Ukrainians, it is likely to continue, and get more aggressive.

          Hoping for peace, and strength to Ukrainian people.

  8. “Always apply logic” oh Craig no you don’t.

    “I was wrong” yes yes you were about a great many many things and continue to be. Use this moment as a learning moment. The rest of us knew what Putin is capable of….. you didn’t…. Perhaps you are wrong on many things. Listen to others and start to learn.

    It’s a long shot I know but you can be a better man and a better human if you try…..

  9. By and large as a Russian speaker Russia is an absolute dump of a country, get away from the city centres of Moscow and St Petes and it is grim, go to places like Otradnoe (St Petes) or Yasenvo (Moscow) and you will see the real Russia, most of it ss Kruschev housing and tower blocks that make the tower blocks of Elephant and Castle look luxurious. Ordinary Russians dont really hold an opinion, if it is a battle between the refrigerator or the TV, the refrigerator wins every time.

  10. Putin apologists living safely in the UK eulogising a brutal regime. Utterly shameful.
    Go and live there if you think Russia is so wonderful and when you find something you don’t like and protest you’ll be arrested and thrown in jail.
    Anyone supporting Putin in supporting the slaughter of innocent civilians.
    Absolutely disgusted that there are so many hard left Marxists and Communists living in the area.

    • Seaside lover

      It would be extremely difficult to find anyone, who doesn’t agree with your statement, but as you say, those that do are able to experience the safety of the UK. However, I doubt they would make their views known in public.

        • I am neither Marxist nor hard-left but I support Putin as a leader who was forced into this position for several reasons. First, NATO was pushing him by enlarging this organisation up to Russia’s borders. They want to destroy Russia. Jens Stoltenberg its Secretary-General has been threatening Russia ever since he took on NATO’s leading role. Another reason is that Ukraine has been at war with the Russian speakers of the Donbass since 2014. The real massacres have gone on there but the Western media ignores this fact. It’s always “poor old Ukraine”. The massacres in the Donbass are also ignored by the Russian-haters on this comments section.

  11. Did anyone else notice that Mackinlay never mentioned a word about the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Ukraine? This government is not going to allow them to come to this country unless they obtain a visa, although all the other EU countries have an “open border” policy! I saw a Ukrainian woman being interviewed in Canterbury, who was not allowed to bring her sister, and her 4 year old daughter here, why? Because her sister was not considered as being immediate family, Duurh!

    The only thing I agreed on with Mackinlay’s piece was to describe Putin as being mad, which he is, although I prefer a paranoid, psychotic megalomaniac! I was a child refugee along with my mum, and afterwards we had nothing, except what we stood up in! Mr Mackinlay act now, get those refugees into Britain, they are desperate no excuses!

  12. I note that there was not one word of apology or explanation about the millions of pounds of Russian money that has propped up the Tories in recent years.
    PS the irony of accusing Putin of being unrealistically nostalgic for the era of a long lost empire is very high for someone whop got elected on a Brexit ticket.

  13. Nice to see that in the comments Craig has fulfilled a Tory election promise and united us all, we might be all be coming from varying angles but all of us agree Craig is wrong.

    Let’s hope we show him the door next time we get the chance. He has and continued to do zero for Thanet and it’s people.

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