PRIME Minister Boris Johnson in his recent speech echoed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in rejecting conceding any Ukrainian territory, including Crimea ("Johnson likens Putin’s invasion of Ukraine to Hitler’s Germany", The Herald, May 3). Ms Truss says the aim is “to push Russia out of the whole of Ukraine”. Mr Johnson claims any Ukrainian in Russian-held territory is killed.

This aim is probably impossible. If achieved, it would be at the cost of hundreds of thousands more dead Ukrainian civilians, killed by both Russian forces and by Ukrainian forces, who would have to use artillery against Russian artillery in Russian-held cities to retake them.

Nor are all Ukrainians in Russian-captured areas killed. There are horrific and unjustifiable war crimes being committed, as in every war; and Russia continues to shamefully prevent the Red Cross evacuating or providing aid to civilians in besieged cities. Ukraine’s nationalist units and SBU Security Services killed, tortured and disappeared civilians in the smaller-scale eight-year war in the Donbas too, though. And a peace deal could end mass deaths.

The Ukrainians may lose despite Nato’s belated supplies of heavy weapons, which will be hard to get to the Donbas as Russian forces close around it, and bomb bridges, railways and depots on supply routes.

If it looks like Ukraine is winning, Vladimir Putin, seeing his hold on power at risk, might do something crazy, like using tactical nuclear weapons, giving new meaning to Kipling’s line that there are many victories worse than a defeat.

The least bad option might be for Nato countries to quietly, behind the scenes, persuade Ukraine to formally cede Crimea to Russia, along with autonomy for, or cession of, Donetsk and Luhansk, and agreeing to be a neutral country, in return for a Russian withdrawal.

Putin might agree as he could sell that to Russians as victory. If he refused, more Russians might turn against the war, as they would see he had refused to accept a deal that would have achieved most of what he claims to be his war aims.

Duncan McFarlane, Carluke.


RECENT news reports, from Israel and elsewhere, suggest that Sergey Lavrov, the current Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, is experiencing difficulty in defining the terms “Nazi” and “Fascist”, particularly in relation to events in Ukraine. The remedy is very simple: all he and his colleagues need to do is look in the mirror.

John Gosling, Oban.


NICOLA Sturgeon and Sir Keir Starmer are not like the rest of us. They are in a position to make laws. It is difficult to see how they can legislate with clarity for fair income levels, protection from certain sexual crimes, provide for specialist and unique medical facilities, services and treatments for more than 50 per cent of the population with XX chromosomes, if they cannot define them as women ("First Minister comes under fire after refusing to define meaning of ‘woman’", The Herald, May 3).

It would be instructive for both to listen each weekday to Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4, where many medical and other matters applicable only to those with XX chromosomes are examined and discussed by adults who describe themselves as women. The lack of HRT has been a prominent issue this week ("Study reveals career toll of menopause", The Herald, May 2). Its lack of supply does not affect the health of those of the human species with XY chromosomes.

I suspect, with some certainty, that both do know the definition of a woman, because they have fought for the advancement of women in politics, and for the extension of rights for women previously enjoyed only by males, but now lack the moral courage to face down a tiny group of zealots who would have us all deny biological reality. Not being like the rest of us, their failure to state the obvious should worry us all.

Jim Sillars, Edinburgh.


IT is welcome news indeed that a draft opinion suggests the US Supreme Court may be on the verge of overturning the Roe v Wade abortion law ("Biden slams Supreme Court’s draft ruling to overturn right to abortion", The Herald, May 4).

An overhaul of the abortion law, both here and in the United States, is long overdue. The rhetoric of "my body, my choice" is tired, outdated and scientifically inaccurate. Every abortion kills a human being and such a barbaric procedure has no place in today's so-called civilised society.

Perhaps now, the abortion debate can focus on the humanity of the unborn. It is well known that biological human life begins at the moment of conception; that by 10 weeks, when most abortions take place, the child in the womb has their very own heartbeat, arms and legs, fingers and toes, all of their bodily organs, eyes, a nose, ears and even a smile.

The sooner we turn away from the empty slogans and rhetoric of the pro-abortion lobby the better. In reality, abortion is not healthcare. It doesn't make a baby healthier and it doesn't make a woman healthier. It just kills. Our society should offer compassion, love, and advocacy to women and their unborn children – not encourage abortion. Let's hope that what is happening in the United States will soon follow here. Scotland doesn’t need more abortion – we need a proper national debate about how to humanely support women with unexpected pregnancies.

Martin Conroy, Cockburnspath, Berwickshire.


I BELIEVE that it should not come as a major surprise that retirement rates within Police Scotland are so much higher than normal ("Force facing a shortage of senior staff as retirement rate soars", The Herald, May 4). When the single police force in Scotland was created in 2013 with the merger of eight regional forces and a number of specialist services, this was carried out with a number of commendable aspirations, such as the protection of frontline policing and more equal availability of national and specialist services.

It is stating the obvious that everything since 2013 has not gone entirely to plan. There are contentions that inadequate funding will continue to lead to, for example, community safety being adversely affected; a lack of necessary spending on police property and vehicle fleets, and closure and part-closure of local offices. When one takes into consideration that background of what appear to be persistent problems, one can more readily understand the wish of many in the police service to take the opportunity to retire when it becomes available to them.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman, Liam McArthur, called for the Justice Secretary Keith Brown "to set out a new plan of action for reducing violent crime and making sure that Police Scotland has the staff and equipment it needs to make that happen". I say "good luck" with that . I hope he is successful in getting a meaningful answer.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


YOU report that Glasgow School of Art alumni Professor Alan Dunlop believes a trust should be formed to take forward the GSA rebuild ("Top architect calls for trust to be created to oversee GSA rebuild", The Herald, May 3). A fine and timely suggestion, as to date, since the 2014 fire, goodness what has been happening.

In 2014 an appeal for the repair/rebuild was started and £20 million was raised; this sum in part became a surplus, as apparently the eventual insurance payout from the 2014 fire would almost cover the costs.

In 2016 the GSA purchased Stow College for £6m, and a rebranded McIntosh Campus Appeal followed, raising an unreported further amount to benefit the whole GSA campus; a large part of this fund was spent on upgrading the Stow College building, though not following the first grandiose scheme proposed at the time.

Asbestos/bitumen coatings discovered after the purchase still remain on the roof cladding and in interiors, in part now covered over by plasterboard as temporary protection. A second fire followed in 2018, again reportedly covered by a £50m payout.

Why now be cost-conscious with the funds? Start another appeal, and continue with the apparently gay abandon as with previous sums of monies raised. As is apparently and thankfully now being considered, they should do the rebuild, but not be too frugal with the budget and give Glasgow an updated, safe, yet glorious building, following McIntosh's original design thoughts, but not necessarily a stone by stone copy.

George Dale, Beith.