On 14 August 2008 the Independent newspaper published together three comments on the Russian invasion of South Ossetia. They were by John McCain, Mikhail Gorbachev and (checks notes) Craig Murray.
I am proud of my comments all these years later, both by their prescience and by my consistency of view until today. This is what I said:
Russia’s actions are illegal but the US and UK, who launched an equally illegal and much more devastating invasion of Iraq, are ill-placed to be outraged. A de facto Russia annexatioin of South Ossetia must not be permitted, unless we eventually want a war of Eastern Ukraine.
NATO is part of the cause of the problem, not the solution. By encircling and humiliating Russia, NATO has created the climate in Russia so favourable to Putin.
If you wonder what the two other gentlemen said:
I’m not saying we are reigniting the Cold War but this is an act of aggression which we didn’t think we would see in the 21st Century. Of course we have to deal with Russia and deal with Putin. But it has to be on a realistic basis.
I think that it’s very clear that Russian ambitions are to restore the old Russian Empire. Not the Soviet Union, but the Russian Empire. Russia no longer share any of the values and principles of the G8, so they should be excluded.
By declaring the Caucasus – a region that is thousands of miles from the American continent – a sphere of its “national interest”, the United States made a serious blunder.
Of course, peace in the Caucasus is in the interest of everyone. But it is simply common sense to recognise that Russia is rooted in the region by common geography and centuries of history.
Russia is not seeking territorial expansion, but it has legitimate interests in the region.
I have spent the last two weeks writing a lengthy and very considered piece about Ukraine. I hope I might finally publish it today.