THE recent much-hyped “friendship” between Russia and China (arguably both countries degenerating into oppressive totalitarian regimes) has a strong historical resonance. In 1939 the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany had a similar much-hyped rapprochement – the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. One element of the pact was the supplying of munitions if needed. The totalitarian leaders in 1939 were the dictators – Jozef Stalin and Adolf Hitler!

This pact actually lasted less than two years. In June 1941 Nazi Germany launched the massive Operation Barbarossa and invaded the Soviet Union, having seen the previous poor performance by the Soviet army in its earlier attack on Finland. More recently, failures of the once-mighty Russian army have been cruelly exposed by the Ukrainians. Once again intriguing parallels.

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The naive Stalin was shocked and traumatised by the Nazi invasion. He was to become reliant on massive support from the USA and Britain for tanks, trucks and other munitions in the following battles.

Is Vladimir Putin being equally naive? China has reclaimed every other treaty port humiliatingly seized from its country by the then imperial powers in the 19th century. Only Russia’s Vladivostok (known as Haishenwai to the Chinese) remains in foreign hands.

China will be strongly tempted to take advantage of an obviously greatly weakened Russia to seize back Vladivostok. It will also be looking at the rich resources of the Russian Far East (once a province of the Chinese empire). Such Siberian resources would be much more accessible for the Chinese, rather than to the Russians in far-off Moscow.

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Russia has revealed its extreme weakness, that it is a “shattered military power”. It is a unique opportunity for the resurgent Chinese. Isolated, Russia has alienated the West and also the Japanese. Putin is extremely vulnerable. Moving his Far Eastern forces to Ukraine to bolster his struggling invasion has left China with an open goal.

Pete Milory

KEVIN McKenna, if he reads my letter (though it is not for his consideration it is written) will take no regard of it and only think it the opinion of some working-class upstart who has the impudence to pass comment on his superior intellect gained from his vast experience of life.

Mr McKenna’s column of last Wednesday (Damage inflicted by the SNP’s drone class makes rebuilding of trust vital for new FM, Mar 22) is full of spite verging on hatred and invective as well as being devoid of any facts or evidence, and is merely fevered opinion.

After reading it, I said to myself “why am I even doing so, or buying The National which includes it?” Putting aside my initial reaction, I came to my senses and realised McKenna’s article is one dirty puddle in a paper which has so many excellent, clear and positive journalists, columnists and letter-writers, and the paper is essential for our movement.

Mr McKenna ended by giving a reason why two of the candidates should be given votes. With that endorsement, they should have been worried.

Bobby Brennan

WHEN I read The National I want to be offered items like those by Patrick Harvie – on accelerating change – and Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp – on wellbeing as the key to the economy. That is to say, forward-looking and constructive pieces. I don’t read Joanna Cherry but suspect her heart is in the right place. Lesley Riddoch I do read and is a wee gem – local democracy and land inequality. These are all radical writers and suit this octogenarian radical rascal well.

I noticed that I have been voting Green longer than Patrick has been a member of that party; how time passes.

Iain WD Forde

LIFE has pleasant coincidences.

I see in Saturday’s National that there is a letter from Nick Dekker.

This coming Friday, Maryhill and Springburn branch SNP is holding an exhibition of political materials from 1933 to 2007 that belong to our 95-year-old veteran Hamish MacQueen. Your paper published an article about Hamish when he was 92.

Included in this exhibition is The Reality of Scotland’s Oil a 16-page booklet written by Nick Dekkar in 1972. This is a rare booklet of which I have only seen two copies; the other is in the Tom McAlpine collection recently donated to the National Library of Scotland by Isobel Lindsay.

In answer to Mr Dekkar’s question, I have seen a copy of The Politics of the Environment by Malcolm Slessor in the Mitchell Library. I hope that is of help.

Ewen Cameron