It’s exiting times in frozen Saigon. We know the Ukrainian elections will be deferred, and we don’t give a damn. There’s martial law and Ukraine was never much of a democracy anyway, with this and that sort of crazy Oligarch pulling his weight around and bribing the electorate. The general consensus is that Kyiv is irrelevant and that elections would achieve nothing. Zelensky is a good man, of that we are all sure - notwithstanding the frankly unsatisfactory circumstances in which he came to power, pushed into office with the finances of possibly Ukraine’s most appalling Oligarch, Igor Kolomoisky, who now languishes in a Kyiv prison but the Revolution devours its children, as I have already suggested in these diaries, and Kolomoisky was eaten up by the President who he placed in power because he could not really comprehend the forces against him.
I have some sort of latent optimism in the future of Ukraine, because the Ukrainians are such tough and battle-hardened people. And anyway, even after all this time, I still love one of them and she is my curse and I think of her at night and during the day and for all her faults and her hatreds and her prejudices and her animosities, as my ex-wife told me this Christmas, she loved me and I loved her. And therefore I love Ukraine and I love Europe and I am doing everything I can to fight this Russian menace. That’s why I’m putting my back and my heart and my soul into fighting all this rough stuff that the Russians are delivering onto the doorstep of Europe including their hypersonic missiles and all this stupid stuff. I am doing it in the memory of one woman who created such happiness and love and passion and all the rest in me and even though I know I’ll never see her again I know I am doing all these things for her for the benefit of Ukraine and that is my motivation. What a crazy thing to do: to fight for the cause of a woman I loved and I love and I will never see again but she made me love her country and that is some sort of fatalism but it is some deep and impenetrable aspect of my tragic heart.
Tonight I hung around with my friend A——, a great guy who carries weight because he has this and that sort of connections but he doesn’t really give a damn and he understands what is really going on in this country. And he is the first person to have explained to me that the Ukrainian people, including President Zelenskiy himself, are eager for a Donald Trump victory in the US Presidential elections in November 2024, not because they think this will be good for American democracy but simply because Mr Trump understands Mr Putin and he acknowledges and realises that this is the sort of dictatorial leader who acts not on principle but on the basis of raw power. He will progress the invasion of Ukraine and then the rest of Europe until he is faced with the firepower of the United States - because Europe cannot defend itself - and then he will blanche and he will hesitate and he will stop.
I was talking with some crazy American guy tonight. He suggested to me in all these sinister and stupid ways that he was in the CIA. Well, I find that sort of talk very interesting but maybe I know a little bit more than him about all this ridiculous stuff. Yes he had a degree in Russian and Slavonic Studies and in international relations and in this and that and I didn’t really care; I was yawning because I hadn’t seen this guy before in Lviv and he was talking straight out of some textbook I hadn’t read. This kind of guy should go back home because he doesn’t really get it. He was talking about Vladimir Putin’s notorious 2021 essay in which he says that Ukraine is really a cultural and political outpost of Russia and he read this rubbish at face value and he thought it represents a principled position on the part of Vladimir Putin. GIve me a break.
Vladimir Putin has no principled positions. He is an exceptional and excellent autocrat precisely because he has no principles. Russian leaders throughout history are notorious and exceptional in expounding nonsense on stilts, purporting to be principled positions, but in fact not giving a hoot about any of it. Russians don’t think on the basis of principles and rule of law and all the things that we in the West imagine give a veneer of decency to our civilisation. They just don’t care. They talk whatever they want but in fact they are motivated by raw power and by nothing else. They don’t harbour grudges; they don’t care for principles or law; they just want to see who has the stronger position and who exercises power and aggression more effectively. And some guy with a degree in Russian studies can have read all the textbooks he likes but he doesn’t see that Russia isn’t a country based on principles or rule of law at all; it is a jungle in which the beasts roam and the civilised people are devoured.
The West is still sending people who don't know enough about the country, who have all these academic qualifications but can’t themselves see into the Russian psyche. Russia is a monster, a brute, a totalitarian menace to be contained, pushed back, cut up and destroyed. It is a phenomenal and monstrous force to be reckoned with and we must never underestimate the military and political reach of the Russian Federation, anymore than we should have done the Soviet Empire. They are exactly the same, and we in the West made fools of ourselves in blinding ourselves, over the thirty-something year period since we imagined that the Cold War had ended, that peace and harmony and negotiated resolution by agreement and honour and contract and good faith could create harmony and good will with the Russian Federation. For the Russian Federation, whether Soviet tyranny or Putinesque neo-totalitarianism, is the same all round. It is Stalinist hell, and we must use all necessary means to resist it.