Putin has recently been pictured talking to some Aeroflot flight attendants to whom, slightly oddly, he seemed to have given bunches of flowers. It was a bit unfortunate that the ‘girls’ with their bright red lipstick and glassy smiles appeared to be straight out of central casting for a 1960s comedy about air hostesses, but Putin obviously thought this was just the backdrop he needed to describe the sanctions imposed on him as “akin to an act of war”.
This is a very helpful confirmation that the sanctions are really biting and that Putin is very cross - probably because they have taken him totally by surprise. Equally satisfactorily, private companies are also abandoning Russia in their droves and cultural and social ties are being cut everywhere.
The UK can be particularly proud that it has been put top of the class by Russia’s foreign ministry:
“The sanctions hysteria in which London plays one of the leading, if not the main, roles, leaves us no choice but to take proportionately tough retaliatory measures.”
It is 2,400 years since the first sanctions were imposed by Athens declaring a trade embargo on Megara, thereby strangling that city’s economy, so we are following a historic tradition. And although sanctions in the past have not always been successful, the sanctions against Russia are more universal and deeper and stronger than any package of sanctions hitherto.
The way forward is now to intensify and expand those sanctions so that every facet of Russia’s economy and way of life is affected. As I have written before, it is not enough for Russian people to say they are against Putin’s war – they need to match words with action if they want to preserve their way of life.