THE town of Bucha will now sit in the history books alongside Katyn, Lidice and Srebrenica as yet another byword for atrocity.

Hundreds of civilians were murdered by Russian troops in the small town near Kyiv. Putin’s army is torturing, raping and executing civilians. Mass graves are already being found, and we’re only a month into this war. The regime stands accused of genocide. Civilians are being disappeared, transported on trains to camps.

Even if Russia withdrew from Ukraine tomorrow there can be no peace until both Putin and his regime are destroyed. Coming to some sort of accommodation with a dictator who butchers civilians degrades the very idea of peace.

At just one Russian military murder scene, the bodies of 18 mutilated men, women and children were discovered in a basement. There’s reports of torture chambers operating, and victims found with their ears cut off, and teeth pulled out.

Civilians were shot in the street and left like garbage. Some were carrying shopping bags – murdered as they went about their daily lives. Others were bound hand and foot – indicating they were rounded up for execution. Atrocity mounts on atrocity.

At another site, the bodies of one man and three naked women were found. The women are believed to have been raped and their bodies burned.

The blame for what’s happening now in Ukraine goes far beyond Putin and his military-security apparatus. The blame goes down to the soldiers on the ground. The blame must also go right down to every Russian who supports the war.

Read more: Putin’s apologists in Scotland shame the nation

Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a recent fiery address direct to Russian mothers, saying: “See what bastards you’ve raised. Murderers, looters, butchers.”

He’s correct. Today, we don’t look back on the average German citizen of the late 1930s with much respect. Evidently, there were many, many Germans who opposed the Nazis, and some brave enough to stand up and protest – a few even had the courage to actively resist. But the vast majority of Germans did nothing, and so that generation is forever damned. Likewise in Russia today. Being drugged by propaganda or paralysed by fear only goes so far as an excuse.

How can there ever be even frosty peace between the western democracies and Putin’s Russia? To enter into any accommodation with that regime would be to spit on the graves of the dead of Bucha.

Yet, even now, we’ve our fair share of apologists here at home for the Kremlin. They still peddle the grotesque lie that the war should be blamed on "Nato expansion" rather than criminal aggression by what’s now clearly Putin’s fascist regime. The most damnable even spout Kremlin lies that atrocities are fabricated. These people aren’t just conspiracy theorists – they excuse rape, torture and murder. Others bleat that compromise should be reached with Putin and the Kremlin calmed. Like German citizens of the 1930s, history doesn’t look kindly on those who appeased Hitler. Perhaps, today’s appeasers would be happier living somewhere like Hungary, given newly reelected Viktor Orban’s routine of grovelling to Russia.

If we reach any sort of deal with Putin, we’re placing our heads on the chopping block. Would you allow a killer to remain in your home town, free and unpunished, while the bodies of his victims still cooled on the ground? That’s the kind of suicidal folly Putin’s friends in Britain seek.

Scotland’s appeasement contingent comes with the additional delusion that somehow this country could stay out of the battle between authoritarianism and democracy if only we were independent. In the Holy Land of independence, Scotland would be some neutral state free from nukes, living in edenic bliss.

Garbage. Like it or not, independence is off the cards for the foreseeable future. Not just thanks to the war in Ukraine guaranteeing defeat for the Yes campaign, but because the SNP has clearly no plans of ever really pushing for a referendum.

Even if a miracle should happen and Scotland woke up independent tomorrow, though, we still won’t be able to stay out of this war for democracy’s future. Our resources and geography – as well as basic morality – demand our involvement.

Ireland is no longer really neutral. Dublin has picked a side and is now sending aid to Ukraine. There’s a discussion on-going in Ireland right now about a complete rethink of military neutrality. Even Swiss neutrality creaks today as the government imposes sanctions on Russia.

An independent Scotland pulling out of Nato in the world we now live in would render the nation a weasel - and membership of Nato means nukes on the Clyde, no matter what the SNP says.

Scotland is a key point on the map when it comes to containing Russia in the Arctic. We are the passage north. Of late, 30,000 Nato troops were training in Norway – Russia’s neighbour – preparing for invasion. Climate change is opening up the Arctic, making it a potential flashpoint. Britain has deployed submarine-spotting aircraft to the region.

Read more: We are all now in a war for the future

Putin’s Ukrainian invasion must fail, otherwise Sweden, Finland, Moldova, or even Nato states like Norway or the Baltic nations, might be next.

Think of the role Scotland played strategically in both world wars – we were, effectively, the north Atlantic naval base. In this new hybrid war for democracy in the 21st century, nothing has changed when it comes to our geopolitical importance.

We’re also part of the battle thanks to our energy supplies. Like all wars, this war is about resources, as we’ve seen from the use of Russian gas as a weapon. Scotland with its historical oil and gas troves, and its ability to harness renewable wind and wave power (if only governments would get on with it), mean we’ve a role to play as an engine room of democracy, helping keep the lights on.

No matter what the Caledonian contingent of the Putin apologists say, after Bucha, Scotland – whether we like it or not – is at the heart of the West’s battle for the future of democracy, and that battle will go on throughout the 21st century until Putin is done: either dead or in the dock, and Russians find themselves ready to face up to the crimes that are being committed in their name today.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald