Times Letters: Ukraine's Freedom

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Sir, Max Hastings is wrong to accuse Liz Truss and Ben Wallace of engaging in “irresponsible rhetoric” for their insistence that the total withdrawal of Russian troops from occupied Ukrainian territory is a precondition to any peace (“Ukraine must seek peace talks to have any hope of revival”, May 24; letters, May 25). Far from being “diminished”, the reputation of the UK and its ministers has never been higher with most Ukrainians, because it rests on two interlocking principles: that Ukrainians are entitled to defend the entirety of their lands and that their destiny cannot be bartered between the West and Russia. Hastings’s contention that we are “egging on” Ukraine to pursue unrealisable war objectives and that we must now force it to the negotiating table with Russia is based on the assumption that Ukrainians don’t know what is good for them and need “guidance” about their future. I assumed that this condescending and morally dubious approach was fatally discredited at the end of the Cold War. But it clearly survives in some nooks and crannies.