SIR – Readers are right to say that more should be done for refugees from Ukraine (Letters, March 14). But the flight of the inhabitants of this country is, I fear, also what Vladimir Putin wants.
Sergei Orlov, the deputy mayor of Mariupol, has said more than once recently that Putin’s goal is Ukraine without Ukrainians. We must be prepared for a conflict that may well escalate in ways still barely contemplated by most commentators.
We have already seen attacks on civilians and the near annihilation of at least one town, Volnovakha. It is likely that this form of warfare will continue and intensify.
Many have predicted that Mr. Putin will only be able to hold and occupy Ukraine by committing the bulk of his army to this task. But a conquered land can be held in subjection by the most extreme methods. Mr. Putin can still resort to the means of his dictator predecessors of the last century: deportations of people, mass imprisonments, retaliatory raids, even large-scale murders.
SIR – Russia has committed atrocities in Ukraine and deliberately bombed maternity and children’s hospitals, schools, residential areas and people seeking safety. The Oxford Dictionary defines genocide as “the deliberate extermination of a people or nation”. However Vladimir Putin described his original evil and immoral intentions, his actions can now certainly be called genocide.
SIR – It’s been called a second cold war. It’s not. This is a third world war, even if we are currently in retreat.
The assault on Yavoriv, so close to the Polish border, is clearly presented as a test for NATO and its resolve. It’s a mockery.
We have to ask ourselves whether NATO should confront Mr. Putin now or wait until the problem is unavoidable and the stakes, in terms of human lives, are much higher.
Royal Hillsborough, County Down
SIR – The £350-a-month allowance for landlords taking in people who have fled Ukraine is welcome, but will single people providing accommodation have to give up the 25% cut on their council tax?
Perhaps many homeowners living alone would have less incentive to help, given the rising cost of living.
Kate Graeme Cook
SIR – During World War II, a German POW named Heinz Willkowski was placed to work on a farm in North Wales alongside my father.
They became friends and he became part of the whole family. It was not uncommon for him to come to Sunday lunch with a dead but warm chicken under his coat.
He returned to Germany in 1948. They kept in touch and he and his family would travel from Hamburg from the mid 1950s. One Christmas they sent my parents a pair of towels, which were valuable and never used . My sister inherited them and kept them for sentimental reasons.
Last week the towels were donated to a Ukrainian charity and will hopefully be put to good use. Heinz would certainly agree.
I find it moving that these towels are linked by two wars and that the world still tolerates tyrants.
Civil service failure
SIR – Failure to register power of attorney (Letters, 12 March) echoes problems reported for months to the Passport Office and DVLA. Now we have the dismal failure of the Interior Ministry to help those fleeing Ukraine.
There was a time when public service was the envy of the world, but now it is a national embarrassment.
Ipcress Setright wrong
SIR – The Routemaster bus in The Ipcress File may have been right (Letters, March 14), but the driver’s Setright ticket machine was definitely not. London Transport used the Gibson A14 (pictured).
Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire
Problem with penalties
SIR – The sanctions against Roman Abramovich and other oligarchs are a mistake. Britain is a trading rather than a manufacturing nation. Our prosperity depends on foreigners doing business and investing here. We are attractive because we allow freedom of contract, have a relatively good judicial system and respect property rights.
Now that we are freezing the assets of Russian oligarchs – private citizens of a country we are not actually at war with – those things are no longer true. It is doubtful that even these men have much influence on Vladimir Putin – so this measure is just an exercise in signaling virtue.
SIR – Chelsea FC fans must be relieved that the government has issued their club a blanket license to allow essential payments to continue while the owner is sanctioned.
Similar assurances must now be given to aid agencies, which face enormous challenges when providing assistance to families living in areas under sanctioned regimes.
A continued lack of humanitarian exceptions or blanket licensing under UK sanctions on Russia could spell disaster for our work in Ukraine and beyond. Now that the government has shown that licenses can be rolled out quickly, there can be no delay in issuing them to aid agencies working in Ukraine – or in a crisis.
CEO, Bond, the UK NGO Network
UK Director, Norwegian Refugee Council
Director, Islamic Relief UK
Director of Advocacy, Cafod
Executive Director of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns, Save the Children UK
SIR – As I relax on the beach enjoying my holiday in the Seychelles, I become aware of a noise in the background.
It comes from Russians screaming and laughing into their phones. Sanctions seem to have had little effect: they are everywhere here. Even their radio broadcasts echo around the pool.
Heating oil costs
SIR – Much has been said about the rising cost of home energy and vehicle fuel. Yet there is little mention of the three million UK households that must rely on oil for domestic heating and hot water.
Its cost has almost tripled, from 65p a liter in mid-February to £1.70 now. Where is our ceiling price?
C of E ageism
SIR – Unlike the Pope, whose post is for life, the Dean of Canterbury is due to retire for reasons of age (Letters, March 14). Why? Will his faith or his power to express it suddenly diminish on his birthday?
This age discrimination has no place in modern society. The promised afterlife may be eternal, but the Church of England clearly believes in an arbitrary sell-by date for its clergy.
SIR – My left shirt sleeve still hangs out of my jacket about four inches. Is it just me, or are all humans born with different arm lengths?
When Listening to a Caller Depends on a Landline
SIR – When I call on my mobile, I always have to ask the caller to call back on my landline, so that I can hear him clearly. If I’m not home at the time, I ask the caller to text instead.
Due to this hearing problem, I am registered on a system that gives advance warning of planned power cuts and assists in the event of unexpected cuts. The program emphasizes having an ordinary landline phone (not digital or wireless) that plugs into the wall for use during power outages (Letters, March 14).
I would be interested to know if BT is aware of these tips.
Christine I peel
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Pilot a national flagship and a royal yacht
SIR – Unfortunately Admiral Lord West of Spithead’s assumption (Letters, 12 March) that the proposed National Flagship will be manned (and operated) by the Royal Navy is likely to be correct.
However, Lord West goes on to say that, based on the ship’s proposed role, its running costs should not be borne by the Ministry of Defence. I totally agree – but why, therefore, should its manpower and management be attributed to the Royal Navy?
The UK has a wealth of maritime excellence in merchant shipping. Our merchant seamen are fully qualified to operate what will essentially be a commercial vessel flying our flag around the world.
If the ship was required for royal service, there is a precedent, set in 1954, when the freighter/passenger Gothic was used by the Queen for her Commonwealth tour.
Likewise, commercial management is abundant in the country and there would seem to be no reason why it should not be commercially occupied and managed, funded, perhaps, by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
Such an arrangement would benefit both the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy, as it would not remove RN personnel from their essential duty of manning warships and would give MN personnel the opportunity to represent their country in a professional manner. both at home and abroad.
Lord West has been a strong advocate for the Merchant Navy and its personnel for many years – he knows their abilities – and I hope he will support such a proposal.
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