The War of Aggression against Ukraine

How should we feel about the invasion of Ukraine?

Concerned, anxious and sad, certainly.

Most of all, we should feel anger – intense, cold anger.

This came home to me when I listened, quite by chance, to what turned out to be an English version of a famous Russian World War II poem, written by Konstantin Simonov in 1941

“Wait for me and I’ll come back!
Wait with all your might!
Wait when dreary yellow rains
Tell you nothing’s right;
Wait when snow is falling fast;
Wait when summer’s hot;
When no one waits for other men
And all the past’s forgot!”

How many people will be waiting in the years ahead because of what started this morning? How many will be waiting all their lives? The answer is already in the hundreds. It will soon be in the thousands and tens of thousands. Who knows what the final tally of misery will be.

And why?

The Government of Russia has decided deliberately and with calculation to launch a war of aggression.

In 1945 Russia was a founder member of the United Nations and committed itself, in article 1 of the UN Charter:

“To maintain international peace and security, to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;”

Likewise, Russia was a constituent member of the International Military Tribunal, set up to try Nazi war criminals and signed up to the Nuremberg Charter, article 6 of which stated that:

“The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility:

(a) CRIMES AGAINST PEACE: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;”

President Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov and other members of the Russian Government may see themselves as following in the footsteps of the great heroes of Russian history. On the contrary, under the terms of solemn commitments given by their country, they belong in the dock with Goring, Donitz and Ribbentrop.

What good is it to be angry?

Whatever we do, the crime that is being committed before our eyes will, at the least, cause us economic pain and a loss of material wellbeing. Being angry reminds us that it is far, far worse for the people of the Ukraine and Russia. Anger will steel us to the challenge.

For, if we fail to meet it, we do not deserve and ultimately cannot expect either prosperity or wellbeing.

So do not turn your eyes away from the TV as the grief, destruction and bloodshed unfolds over the months ahead. Do not balk at the sanctions imposed on Russia. We will all be the poorer – but that is not the point. We are all responsible to posterity.


Below is the best English version of Konstantin Simonov’s poem Wait for Me I can find. I came across it as a voice-over to a video game movie made five years ago in Russia. It is a curious thing that 200 words of translated poetry say several million times more than 4:35 minutes of CG video that must have taken months to put together, but here is the link:

Wait for me and I’ll come back!
Wait with all your might!
Wait when dreary yellow rains
Tell you nothing’s right;
Wait when snow is falling fast;
Wait when summer’s hot;
When no one waits for other men
And all the past’s forgot!
Wait when those that wait with you
Are bored and tired and glum,
And when it seems, from far away,
No letters ever come!

Wait for me and I’ll come back!
Wait in patience yet
When they tell you off by heart
That you should forget;
And when my mother and my son
Give up on me at last
And friends sit sadly round the fire
And talk about the past
And drink a bitter glass of wine
In memory of me –
Wait! No rush to drink with them!
Tell them to wait and see!

Wait for me and I’ll come back,
Escaping every fate!
‘Just a lot of luck!’ they’ll say,
Those that didn’t wait.
They will never understand
How, amidst the strife,
By your waiting for me, dear,
You had saved my life!
Only you and I will know
How you got me through!
Simply – you knew how to wait!
No one else but you!

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