ONE of the first casualties of any war is the truth. Today we would sneer at the rumours in Britain in 1914 that the Germans were eating Belgian babies, hanging Belgian nuns from church bells then ringing them to death, or crucifying farmers at the roadside.

Yet at the start of this war, we believed that Ukrainian border guards on Snake Island were killed for shouting at the Russians "to go away" (they were actually handed over in a prisoner exchange).We don't want to know that Ukrainian troops have killed young Russian conscripts in cold blood and don't believe that most ceasefires were broken by the Ukrainians. It is a shock to realise most Russian armour was destroyed by Turkish drones not British anti-tank and aircraft missiles. Hence one has to do a Cook's Tour of European, Turkish, CNN and Al Jazeera news programmes on satellite TV to learn that President Putin is amenable to concessions at the Antalya peace talks.

The most important power broker at these peace talks is President Erdogan. Nato likes him, as his TB2 Bayraktar drones have proved the most effective in the war. He invoked the 1936 Montreux Convention, closing the Dardanelles strait to Russian warships. He condemned the invasion of Crimea. Russia likes Erdogan as he chose their S400 air defence system, Turkish airspace remains open, Antalya beach resort is full of Russian tourists, Ankara did not join in the economic sanctions and they both fight the Kurds.

John F Kennedy said that "nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of a humiliating defeat or a nuclear war". Appeasement has been a dirty word since 1938 (though Neville Chamberlain is, belatedly, being rehabilitated) but, if we are to avoid World War Three the time has come for realpolitik.

It is difficult to ask Ukraine to make concessions when we have witnessed genocide but Ukraine cannot defeat a nuclear superpower with far superior forces. President Putin has boxed himself into a corner and he needs a face-saving solution. In a week Donetsk and Luhansk will vote on joining Russia. If that were agreed, and Ukraine did not enter Nato or the EU, there would be a prospect of peace. Where is our media coverage?

Putin has badly miscalculated in this war, not least because 21st century drones destroy 20th century tanks. But how might he respond to the unexpected losses and economic damage? English tabloids, irresponsibly, speculate he could declare World War Three tomorrow (May 9) but experts suggest he will declare full mobilisation and extend conscription.

Washington (in the form of the Council On Strategic Risks think tank) calculates Putin could launch a tactical nuclear weapon over a sparsely-populated area of Ukraine and so there must be no escalation. Ignoring naïve Kyiv demands for a no-fly zone was timely. While our media have given considerable uncritical coverage to Nato sending Cold War-era tanks, planes and helicopters to Ukraine, this has not provoked President Putin.

President Biden has signed off $3 billion of aid.The hawkish Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor, is insisting on the most modern sophisticated military hardware being transported to the border. This completely undermines Nato as a defensive alliance. Equally unhelpful are Anthony Blinken and Lloyd Austin admitting they want Russian military capability diminished and welcoming a war of attrition (as do the arms industry and politicians mired in insoluble domestic issues). It beggars belief they want sanctions to continue after the conflict ends and still much of the British media does not criticise. President Biden wants regime change some days, but not others, and his comments on responding to a chemical attack in kind were bewildering.

Europe is a tinderbox and it is a time for cool heads; not a proxy war.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing.

* DAVID Pratt ("Why the invasion of Ukraine is only just beginning to play itself out", May 1) notes the absence of real diplomacy in Ukraine. Further arming should be conditional on serious offers of a democratic vote (for example, for home rule) putting Vladimit Putin on the spot.
Boris Johnson talks about victory. At what bloody cost? It is peace we should be seeking.
Rev Bob Philip, Falkirk


WE all know the story of the coat of arms of Glasgow with its optimistic motto "Let Glasgow Flourish".

Each symbol on that proud badge represents a sad beginning with a miraculously happy ending through the intercessions of the city's patron saint. There we see represented the tree that never grew, the bird that never flew, the fish that never swam and the bell that never rang.

I am surprised that our opposition parties have never thought to conjure up a coat of arms to represent the failures of the SNP, all of which began with promise but ended in misfortune.

On that coat of arms the motto would read "Watch the promises of the SNP wither away".

Amongst the symbols which would merit prominence upon such a shameful shield would be the airport that never took off, the school curriculum that never succeeded in educating, the flagship hospital that never opened its doors to patients and the ferries that have never sailed.

I mention those four areas as prominent candidates for display upon my projected SNP's flag of failure while in office, but I am sure other readers could find equally unattractive policy failures to give them their place of demerit on the current Holyrood Government's roll of dishonour.

It defies belief that our First Minister still stands so high in the polls when her record is shot through with such catastrophes .

Is the yearning for independence so overpowering that it blinds her fanatical followers to her undeniable governmental defects?

Nicola Sturgeon is on record as saying that she should be judged on her record in government and particularly on education.

Sadly she has throughout her tenure of office sounded more like a broken record with her incessant harping on about another independence referendum when the day job should have taken pride of place to prove her competence to push her prime policy.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.

IN the future I am certain the SNP’s ferry fiasco will be taught to students in developing countries as the perfect example of how not to run a country.
With our taxes to pay for the finest brains and economic and engineering expertise advice money can buy, the SNP managed to screw the whole thing up and the documents relating to whom made the decisions have now disappeared. There have been surely few better examples of mind-blowing incompetence from a party in power in the civilised world. Yet an equally screwed-up and divided opposition and electoral system retains it in power no matter what it would seem.
A banana republic would be too embarrassed to govern in this way.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


I WAS surprised to see the recent Women’s Six Nations rugby match between Scotland and England (in Scotland) was covered by BBC2 (England). I had not realised such a designated English channel existed, but then it all made sense.

If we stick a BBC (England) on to all the TV and radio station output, that explains the lack of Scottish content or voices – all coming out of the £4 billion BBC budget, of which Scotland gets much less than its per capita share.

Of course there has to be a BBC Scotland – how else could a Scottish top news story be about the English Transport Minister’s dangerous ramblings on a slimmed-down MOT, or the Scottish Tories' plan for addiction rehab (no questions asked about facilities, funding or staffing required)? But BBC Scotland has a blind spot; no questions to Alister Jack about levelling up funds, or connectivity funds (what happened to the £20 billion he claimed he had?) or anything else.

Then we have “Prince of Wales” (relevant only to English history) Charles telling us about a tree near my birthplace of Auchinleck, dating to the time of Queen Elizabeth I. Did his mother plant it, then?

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


WIND farms, either under construction or newly completed in the North Sea, all agreed to sell power to the grid at low fixed prices under the Government's Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme. However, newly-completed wind farms are delaying taking up their CfDs because they can earn much higher prices on the open market.

Moray East, a huge wind farm off the Scottish coast, recently reached full operational capacity, but announced that it was delaying taking up its CfD contract until 2023. Electricity consumers will potentially have to pay this one wind farm an extra £500 million in its first 12 months of operations.

CfD contracts allow a great deal of flexibility on start dates, with delays of up to three years possible, so £500m could turn out to be £1.5 billion. Remember this is just for one wind farm with more to come. I never thought I would say this but surely it is time to nationalise the wind industry which is mostly owned by foreign investors.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.