IT would be wrong to criticise the humanity of Duncan McFarlane’s argument that Ukraine should give up territory to stop the war (Letters, May 5), but in practice I fear his suggestion is flawed.

For Ukraine to give up Crimea and effectively Donetsk and Luhansk would be difficult, given how much of their country has been damaged or destroyed, as well as the disruption to the lives of many of its citizens. However, Mr McFarlane’s suggestion seems to assume that Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk are all Vladimir Putin wants, when it seems he is looking for more. For instance, even were Luhansk and Donetsk fully absorbed, it would not give Russia a "land bridge" to Crimea.

Moreover, one of the first Ukrainian cities to fall to the Russians was Kherson, to the north-west of Crimea, between Crimea and the port city of Odessa. If Putin can secure the whole Ukrainian Black Sea coast, this would not only damage Ukrainian trade, but potentially bring Transnistria, a Russian-backed breakaway republic from Moldova into play, and thus spread the conflict to another former USSR republic.

Long-term peace is only possible if the sides are content and prepared to live with the solution implemented. It seems to me at least that the Ukrainians would not be content at losing territory and that neither would Putin, as he would be looking to complete what he sees as reclaiming Russian territory by force of arms.

Thus, while I share Mr McFarlane’s regret about “hundreds of thousands more dead Ukrainian civilians”, at the time of writing I see no solution acceptable to both. Difficult as it will surely be, is it not essential for Russia to make no gains from its attack on Ukraine?

However, caution is needed here, for if Putin fails, he will surely fall from power. On the one hand this is a matter for celebration, but it also raises the issue of the incapacity of the West to prepare for post-combat planning. Afghanistan and Iraq are testament to that. If Putin falls then the possibility is that he will be replaced by someone just as bad, or maybe worse. Alternatively, that the country will descend into the kind of chaos we saw in 1991. Neither is a good solution and, perhaps counter-intuitively, the West needs to be ready to support Russia in such circumstances.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

* I HAVE problems with the sentiment expressed by Duncan McFarlane. Let us say I was walking to the shops and I came across this guy, coincidentally by the name of Vladimir, kicking the hell out of a toddler lying on the ground (an accurate representation of Ukrainian reality). What do I do? Reason with him while he is only two kicks away from killing the child obviously with no intention of stopping?

I must acknowledge nevertheless that there is no easy answer to the existential question “how far can we can go, even though we may be putting our own families at risk, in defending the weak?”.

John Milne, Uddingston.


THE Ukrainian situation is dangerous because it gives our politicians something to talk about, and makes them feel they have to be seen to be doing something.

Already we are at war with Russia on economic grounds, and also militarily by proxy via Ukraine. Soon, as the media incessantly talks it up, and our Prime Minister details the help we are providing against Russia, we could come into direct conflict with that country, and then discover the hard way the effect of having depleted our armed forces over the years in the misguided belief that the world had become a safer place.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinross.


THE SNP yet again seems to display its arrogance by questioning whether it will comply and release any legal advice received on holding another referendum ("Sturgeon considers ruling on Indyref2", The Herald, May 3). This is nothing at all to do with public interest and everything to do with Nicola Sturgeon’s tactics, which are very clear to see.

The SNP will huff and puff but will release the advice, which of course will say a referendum called by Holyrood would be illegal. Ms Sturgeon will then use taxpayers' money to challenge that in court which she will inevitably lose. Then we can fully expect the tsunami of outrage and grievance and the terrible English courts and by association, the UK Government depriving the Scottish people of their democratic will. This is Ms Sturgeon’s game, which must now include delaying tactics to placate her acolytes as she well knows there will be no referendum by the end of 2023.

This is an easy script to write and whilst she cannot win a referendum, the grievance and divisive politics that is nationalism will regretfully continue.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.


I WAS flabbergasted to note that Ruth Marr (Letters, May 4) is still beating the same old drum. Her constant reference to “Scotland being taken out of the EU against its will” and “we did not get the government we voted for” is so hackneyed that it is now falling on deaf ears. Not for the first time she and others should be reminded that the results in both instances were UK-wide and not confined to regional or national boundaries.

Furthermore, the idea that the Conservative Party is fostering division is absurd. Nationalists have the stated ambition of dividing the United Kingdom and bringing to an end the most successful union in recent times.

Christopher H Jones, Giffnock.


I’VE just read that in a recent poll 82 per cent of Scots do not believe or trust this Prime Minister.

Now, the majority of Scottish people have a reputation for being innovative, intelligent and enterprising and it is because of its people that Scotland has consistently punched above its weight for many centuries.

Another of these positive qualities is the ability to spot a chancer from a mile away. I am therefore astonished that the figure of 18% who still believe the Prime Minister is as high as that.

Stewart Falconer, Alyth.


THE First Minister has apparently tasked her ministers with identifying money in the Scottish Government budget that could be diverted to help people with the cost of living issue.

Let me help her with that. Why not start with the Scottish Affairs Offices in China, US and Canada, then add on the Scottish Government offices in Paris, Dublin, Berlin and Copenhagen, as well as the Brussels office? The cost of this is £6.9 million – all functions that are provided through the Department for International Trade.

Then take the international development fund which is replicating the international aid that we Scottish taxpayers already fund via the UK Government. That’s an additional £11.5m. International aid is of the utmost importance and the UK Government should continue to provide our support of those countries in need, running at more than £11 billion. This money should be spent by the Scottish Government here when we have people struggling to heat their homes.

This should be a priority for the SNP rather than them trying to put itself on the international stage to the detriment of the Scottish people.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.


THE next time you drive into a petrol station to fill up, reflect on this. Shell made £7.3 billion profit in the first three months of this year, as prices at the pumps continued to rise. But, oh dear, the company says pulling out of Russian oil and gas, because of the Ukraine war, has cost it a further £3bn. I can feel the pain.

BP and TotalEnergies are also celebrating massive profits. But the Government still refuses to introduce a windfall tax –- a tax levied on an unexpectedly large or excessive profit. Is that because many shareholders who will now see nice payments into their bank accounts are Tory supporters? Possibly even Government ministers?

And this at a time when one of the main reasons behind soaring inflation is fuel prices.

Andy Stenton, Glasgow.

* I WAS, as usual, angered by the astonishing complacency of our Prime Minister when he again ruled out a windfall tax on excess profits from the likes of BP and Shell.

His argument seems to be that such a tax would stifle investment in these companies, but I’m afraid I just don’t see the logic.

The profits in question are unexpected and nothing to do with efficiently-run business so presumably the level of investment currently enjoyed and future prospects of normal profits and thus future investment had already been factored in before these massive increases.

The bonuses being enjoyed by senior management for doing absolutely nothing are no doubt going to be eye-watering.

I live in hope of sanity prevailing but expect disappointment.

Forbes Dunlop, Glasgow.

Read more: Ukraine must be persuaded to give ground to end the slaughter