By Nick Clark
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West prepares to discuss more soldiers in Ukraine

Western countries are discussing whether to send their own troops or allow other Nato countries to send soldiers to Ukraine
Issue 2797
Ukrainian soldiers with guns

Nato countries are cautious about sending their own troops to join soldiers in Ukraine

Western governments were toying with further escalation in Ukraine as they prepared to meet for councils of war throughout this week. US president Joe Biden planned to visit Belgium and Poland—where Western countries will discuss ­sending soldiers to Ukraine. The Polish government was set to propose a “peacekeeping” force from the US’s Nato military alliance to unoccupied parts of Ukraine.

Biden’s ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the US wouldn’t send soldiers, but didn’t rule out other Nato ­countries sending them. “What I can say is American troops will not be on the ground in Ukraine at this moment. The president has been clear on that,” she said. “Other Nato countries may decide that they want to put troops inside of Ukraine. That will be a decision that they have made. We don’t want to escalate this into a war with the United States but we will support our Nato allies.”

The US is nervous about being dragged into a direct war with its rival Russia. But discussion about sending Nato soldiers to Ukraine shows how any intervention or escalation risks opening the door to an even bigger war in Europe.

Poland—a Nato member on Ukraine’s border—has been central to sending Western arms to Ukraine. Now its government fears that would make it a target for Russian forces, which is why it’s calling for Nato to send troops to “defend itself.” “If there is an incursion into Nato territory, I believe that Russia can expect a very harsh response on the part of our alliance,” said Marek Magierowski, the Polish ambassador to the US.

And there is pressure on Biden and the West to escalate. US politicians—including from Biden’s own Democratic Party—are demanding that he allow Nato ­members to join the fighting. “We’re asking for one third of the Polish air force to be sent into Ukraine,” said Democratic senate whip Dick Durbin. “There are other ways for us to provide surface to air missiles and air defences that will keep the Russians at bay in terms of their aerial attacks.”

And Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has staged a tour of video calls to Western ­parliaments and their allies calling for more intervention. After an address from Zelensky last week, the US congress agreed to send another £770 million worth of arms to Ukraine. At meetings in Belgium this week Western governments will agree even more arms deals and sanctions. All of them pave the way to even towards a wider war and a more open proxy battle between Russia and the Nato military alliance.

Refugees still face racism 

As many as ten million people have fled their homes in Ukraine since the war began on 24 February, according to the United Nations refugee agency. “The war in Ukraine is so devastating that ten million have fled—either displaced inside the country, or as refugees abroad,” Filippo Grandi, the head of UN High Commissioner for Refugees, tweeted. Earlier this month Grandi called the Ukraine conflict “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since the second world war”. 

Yet refugees attempting to enter Britain are met with blocks and bureaucracy.  The Tory government only allows Ukrainians with family members living here—or those who are sponsored by non‑family members—to come to Britain. Black people fleeing the war are met with even tougher obstacles. Alani Iyanuoluwa, a Nigerian, tried to join family in Britain after fleeing Ukraine.

Instead of being allowed in, border controls left her stranded in France. The new wave of refugees exposes the cruel reality of British and European borders—and shows why they must be opened to everyone.

Russian brutality intensifies

Russian forces have punished Ukrainian people with horrific bombardments and sieges as they struggle to make headway with their invasion. Russia is demanding that Ukraine surrenders the city of Mariupol, which it has kept under siege for four weeks. Its soldiers finally entered the city centre last weekend. Mariupol authorities said 2,400 residents of the city had been killed since Russia launched its invasion.

Dymytro, who fled the city, told the Financial Times newspaper that the city had become “hell on earth.” Before escaping he visited the city’s central market after an attack to find supplies. “Everything was burning, there were corpses everywhere,” he said. 

In the city of Kherson, already captured by Russia, residents of the city have protested in front of Russian tanks and military vehicles. Video footage obtained by the Reuters news agency shows people marching in front of trucks and calling on them to leave. In Berdyansk, a small Ukrainian port city in the south east of the country, 200 to 250 people gathered for a rally.

In another unverified clip recorded in Energodar, a crowd of people gather around a jeep and a Russian soldier holding an assault rifle. He then fires his weapon into the air but they continue to swarm the vehicle. The soldier gets in his vehicle before speeding away. They’re the latest examples of ordinary people confronting Russian soldiers.  Such opposition, free from Nato control, is crucial.

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