JOHN Dennis in his letter of September 20 (Socialists have a duty to show solidarity with Ukraine) insists, in reply to my earlier correspondence of Sep 17, that the “first duty of socialists is to show solidarity with the people and the trade unionists of Ukraine” in defending their country from invasion.

I would have thought the “first duty of socialists” everywhere is rather to understand what is going on in the conflict, to examine the fundamental issues behind it and consider what political settlement can be found?

Whilst I also condemned the abhorrent Russian invasion, it seems to me John fails to recognise this is not a conflict that began in February 2022. Neither is it a dispute between Russia and Ukraine alone, rather it is part of a geopolitical conflict between Nato and Moscow that goes back 30 years.

READ MORE: David Pratt: Ukraine's biggest battle will be retaining support

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990 there were powerful voices even in Washington who advised against Nato’s eastward expansion. Among them, and arguably the most enlightened, was George Kenan, the US Ambassador to Moscow. Kenan warned Nato against advancing into Eastern Europe as Russia would inevitably see it as a profound provocation and “an existential threat to their own security”. Unfortunately, Keenan was ignored.

Despite assurances given to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that it would not move east, Nato expanded into Albania, the Baltic States, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia and declared its intention to include Ukraine and Georgia too. It launched invasions of Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan during that time as well as bombing sorties in Serbia and Syria, all without the backing of international law.

John implies it is “the people and trade unionists of Ukraine” who are arming Zelensky’s corrupt regime when it is Washington that is supplying the lion’s share of the missiles. Like it or lump it, Ukraine has become a proxy for the US/Nato in a conflict where hundreds of thousands of its citizens have lost their lives. Whilst the precise number is difficult to verify (both Kyiv and Moscow declare the figure a “state secret”), most credible estimates suggest around 400,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or severely wounded, with roughly the same on the Russian side.

READ MORE: David Pratt: Western decisions on the war must place Ukraine front and centre

Instead of arguing for an end to the carnage and a peaceful settlement to the conflict, John allies himself with Western warmongers and Ukrainian ultra-nationalists who demand a fight until the last dead conscript.

Unlike John Dennis and the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign, most independent observers believe there is no prospect of Ukraine winning this war even with Nato supplying arms in record-breaking quantities. Surely socialists like John would be better focused on ending the conflict, pressing for a lasting settlement that guarantees peace and security for the people of both Ukraine and Russia which allows for shared prosperity and developing the democratic institutions that are so thin on the ground in both countries?

Colin Fox
Joint national spokesperson, Scottish Socialist Party

SINCE when, in the Tory party conversation, was 2035 ever mentioned? Certainly not to its beloved press, or the BBC. And certainly not to members of the English parliament, let alone Holyrood. Typical of Rishi Sunak to continue where Johnson left off, in making up policy on the hoof. And now we see Grant Shapps cuddling up to his boss for giving him yet another ministerial job.

Since 2019 he has been Secretary of State for Transport under Johnson’s administration, Home Secretary during Truss’s last few days, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in 2022, then Secretary of State for Energy this year followed quickly now as Defence Secretary.

READ MORE: Tory civil war as MSP hits out at Rishi Sunak's net zero U-turn

So it’s no wonder he car-crashed his interview with the indomitable Victoria Derbyshire on the Sunday morning political programme. So many different jobs inside four years as well as his MP duties to his constituents.

Shapps was forced to refer back to his transport job when questioned about Sunak’s newly made up extension for diesel and petrol vehicles sales. He found a way of trying to avoid answering the question by reminding Victoria that he thought he had been invited to discuss his new job concerning the defence of the country. Not a peep on that one.

I wonder how much he actually knows about that set of issues, because he knows bugger-all about the questions he was asked, except to continually agree with his boss on his back-of-a-fag-packet save-the-environment policies.

Alan Magnus-Bennett

ONCE the final nail is driven into HS2’s coffin, I hope the Scottish Government will be calculating the total amount of tax money Scotland has paid towards its share of the cost, on the understanding that HS2 would benefit the whole UK including Scotland. Now that it’s clear that HS2 will benefit the south of England and nowhere else, we will of course be entitled to a full refund, and apology. Let’s not be shy about pointing that out!

Derek Ball

ALEX Cole-Hamilton has maybe let numbers go to his head, as while the LibDems have 99 members in the UK parliament (15 MPs and 84 peers), more than double the the SNP contingent, the position in Scotland is quite different (Alex Cole-Hamilton says Humza Yousaf will be ‘last nationalist FM’, Sep 25).

In the latest elections in Scotland the SNP won almost 12 times as many Westminster seats as the LibDems, 16 times as many Holyrood seats and five times as many council seats.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry