More from me...

Firstly, I must apologise to the small band of people who regularly read my blog, for I have been disinclined to write anything recently.

This is largely because of a personal matter of a very serious nature, the apprehension of which has weighed heavily on my mind this last year or so, and which came to a head at the beginning of August...

Glad to say that the matter is now sorted, and my wife and I can start getting on with our lives again.

We're moving in a week or two - not far, just a bigger flat about half a mile down the road - but enough stress to be going on with.

There's so much going on in the real world at the moment that the pitiful arguments within and between religions have suddenly paled into insignificance.

I was almost roused to write a few lines about the Anglican church's descent into schism (or not? The suspense had me on the edge of my seat throughout the Lambeth conference, honest) over homosexual marriages and such, but I couldn't quite summon up the energy to really give a shit. I read only one columnist who mentioned that all the conservative African bishops who were so keen on obeying the letter of the Bible were also quite able to ignore the bit about the curse of Ham. It comes as no surprise that even hardliners just pick and choose the bits of the Bible (or _insert own religious text here_) that suit their own, usually deranged, personal ideas about the world.

As I say, the idiocies of theological argument have become rather less important in recent weeks, as a more confident and belligerent Russia attempts to re-assert its influence in the Caucasus and beyond.

I don't understand why Putin and co hold the west in such patent contempt. We have been witnessing a return to cold war tactics by these Muscovite hawks in recent years, as Russia's economy has grown stronger on the back of energy prices.

In my country, a critic of Putin was poisoned to death with radioactive Polonium 210 by Russian agents. I can't tell you how angry I was about this, but of course there was little the Government could do - Russia will not extradite the suspect and denies any connection.

Staff at The British Council, a not for profit NGO operating in Moscow, faced harrassment and the offices were closed.

Consulate staff were harrassed and prevented from carrying out their diplomatic duties.

Why so much anger at Britain? Because we harboured "dissidents" - a few ex-pat Russians like the poor poisoned Alexander Litvinenko - people who happened to have a) a different opinion to Putin and co and b) the balls to vocalise it publicly.

A few months ago, MI5 (our internal security service) identified Russia as the third most serious threat to national security.

Now witness the appalling situation unfolding in the Caucasus.

Saakashvilli's rather poor miscalculation that he could quell rebellion in South Ossetia by military means while the World's eyes were on far away Beijing met with crushing and humiliating defeat. Did he seriously imagine that the Russians wouldn't attack? Or, worse, did he really expect the US to come to his aid and declare war on Russia?

The scale, swiftness, and overwhelming success of the Russian attack makes it pretty clear that it was planned well in advance, and it's likely that the Georgians were provoked into making the first move in order that the plan could be implemented. This reminds me of the gun-boat diplomacy employed in the halcyon days of the British Empire, by which pretexts were found for taking territory from the 'natives'.

Gladly, these sort of tactics aren't employed in the modern world, (not even in Iraq; I doubt the US is keen to stay there any longer than necessary, so long as there's a friendly Government in place) at least, they weren't until the beginning of this month.

Russia must face diplomatic isolation and not be allowed to portray itself as a victim of western 'encirclement'. It cannot be allowed to offer support for rebels in South Ossetia and Abkhazia whilst crushing those in Chechenya. It must not be allowed to try to equate our support for the independence of Kosovo with its support for South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Putin and co may be feeling that it is time to make Russia strong again, but they must realise that Russia will be stronger and richer the more it integrates with the west, not by attempting to stand against it.

Nato's response must be cautious, unified, and wholly diplomatic in nature. Economic isolation will hurt the Russian economy badly. For all the strength displayed as the bear flexes its military muscles, let us not forget that the Worl'd's largest country has an economy just slightly larger than that of Spain.

Grow up Russia!

Thats my opinion.

Enjoy this post? Then why not subscribe in a reader, or subscribe by email (top right of the page) for updates?

View blog reactions