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Thursday, May 26, 2022

OPINION – Evening Standard Commentary: We must help equip Ukraine to fight

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(David Simonds)

Throughout the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Joe Biden has been careful to avoid dangerous escalation or, as he put it, World War III.

The US president has spoken out against sending US troops to fight and imposing a no-fly zone. But yesterday, at an emergency NATO meeting in Brussels, Biden balked when asked about the consequences of Vladimir Putin’s use of chemical or biological weapons. He claimed that such an attack would “trigger an in-kind response.”

The use of weapons of mass destruction would be a level above the barbaric acts that Putin has resorted to so far. However, with his back against the wall, he fears he may resort to ever more heinous tactics.

Thus, President Biden is correct in suggesting that such a move would provoke a response from NATO, albeit couched in the language of strategic ambiguity. The NATO meeting came as the Russian invasion stalled in parts and Ukrainian forces are retaking territory around kyiv, according to the Defense Ministry.

But the images of utter devastation emanating from Mariupol illustrate why it is urgent and vital that Britain and our allies continue to supply Ukraine with anti-tank missiles and other defensive weapons to help them continue the fight.

sinking of reputation

Yesterday, the combined Transport and Commons Business Select Committees summoned P&O Ferries boss Peter Hebblethwaite for questioning. It was not a pretty show. Last week, the company laid off 800 of its Dover staff via a pre-recorded Zoom call, used security guards to remove crew from its ships and replaced them with workers who will be paid much less than salary. minimum.

Mr. Hebblethwaite admitted that he had knowingly breached UK labor law by failing to consult the unions. He also said that he would do it again. Last year, Dubai-owned parent company DP World paid its shareholders $367 million in dividends. The reality is that P&O Ferries has lost £100m a year for two years in a row, but given that for much of that time Covid restrictions had killed ferry travel, this was unlikely to continue.

A responsible company would have discussed controlled redundancies and possible voluntary pay cuts with the unions until the situation improved. We should point out that other operators have replaced local staff with cheap foreign labor and gotten away with it.

Now it’s up to the government to intervene. DP World is a partner in the operation of free ports. Ministers must make it clear that he will not be eligible for future contracts if he does not rehire his Dover staff. Meanwhile, his reputation, unlike his ferries, is sunken.

load revolution

One way to avoid the skyrocketing cost of gasoline and diesel is to drive an electric vehicle. But the lack of charging points remains a concern for Londoners. For this reason, the Government’s announcement today of multiplying recharging points by ten by 2030 is absolutely critical.

Confirmation of £500m of public money and £1bn of investment in superfast charging from BP Pulse comes on the heels of Uber’s investment in charging infrastructure in underserved districts, showing how public and private money can work together to build the network we need to see.

The capital cries out for more recharging points: let the revolution begin in earnest.

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