Well, are you bored yet?
Do you find yourself mentally tuning out when every news bulletin and every newspaper seems to lead with a story about the ongoing war in Ukraine?
A growing number of people now seem to have succumbed to ‘Ukraine fatigue’, where they simply feel that they’re watching the same horror show day after day.
We’re now in the 335th day of the crisis and as we rapidly approach the first anniversary of the ‘special military operation’ which was launched by Putin last February, it has been worrying to see how so many people seem to have become weary of the whole ghastly and grisly story.
In many ways, that’s understandable – humans are adaptable, after all, and what was recently shocking can quickly become fairly routine.
For example, the initial outpouring of sympathy the vast majority of Irish people felt towards Ukrainian refugees has now been partly blighted at recent anti-immigration protests in recent weeks.
The vast majority are still willing to open their hearts to these displaced people, but some have tried to twist the narrative to make it about the housing crisis and the bogus idea that these people trying to escape an almost genocidal conflict are now viewed as a burden on the State.
But that’s just morally wrong – this is a European country which, for all its flaws, is fighting for its very survival.
Yet the reticence about our treatment of our Ukrainian guests is weirdly matched in a much larger and more macro way by the big EU countries.
Germany has pretty much disgraced itself in its handling of the entire situation. German chancellor Olaf Scholz, for instance, initially refused to allow other countries to deliver the much needed Leopard 2 tanks to the embattled Ukrainian forces who, against all the odds, are still holding the Russians back.
This is the gravest conflict any of us have ever experienced and it’s one that, if not properly contained, has the potential to spill over into neighbouring nations.
In other words, this has the genuine potential to lead to World War III. That certainly seems to be the attitude of the increasingly bellicose Russian diplomats. With Russian foreign minister and leading Putin stooge Sergey Lavrov recently announcing that, as far as they are concerned, they are already at war with the West, we should shake off our indifference to the situation and start paying close attention.
The German hesitancy in sending serious military support to the Ukrainians was initially grounded in their anxiety over their huge reliance on Russian gas contracts – the Germans were understandably afraid Putin would turn off the taps and plunge their country into darkness.
But they have sourced alternative supplies of gas since the war began, with a third of it now coming from Norway, so their hesitancy is harder to understand. There have been suggestions it may be linked to a fear of being seen as the aggressor, given the country’s role in two apocalyptic world wars.
But we have now reached a stage where the previously dangerous but globally astute Russian leader has completely lost all sense of perspective. In his own memoirs, Putin likes to talk about the time when, as child in St Petersburg, he was attacked by a cornered rat. Rather than express horror at the encounter, he spoke of his admiration for the desperate rodent, and that is certainly analogous to the situation in which he now finds himself – a cornered rat, snarling at his enemies and willing to do whatever it takes.
So, from that perspective, the reluctance of Scholz and his colleagues to be seen to escalate the conflict makes sense from a realpolitik point of view.
It was telling, for example, that yesterday saw the announcement that the Doomsday Clock has now been set to 30 seconds to midnight – the closest it has ever been. The American scientists behind the Doomsday Clock project are genuinely scared that this war could escalate beyond our comprehension and it’s hard to disagree with them.
But in the face of such potential catastrophe, what solutions are on the table?
Rumours abound of Putin’s increasing health problems. But even if he is out of the equation, that won’t make the problem go away.
After all, many of his chief critics (the ones who haven’t suffered a mysterious death, that is) complain not about the fact that he went into Ukraine in the first place, but that he hasn’t gone in hard enough.
If and when we see a successor, it’s highly likely they will be even more hawkish than Putin is.
There is now a growing clamour for talks for a negotiated peace settlement, but that ignores the fact that Zelensky has repeatedly said that the only way for peace is a total Russian withdrawal from his territory, and then, for good measure, for the Russian leaders to be tried for war crimes.
Maybe that’s just a bluff from the Ukrainian leader and the optimistic take is that is indeed a ploy; a card to be placed on the table to be taken away a sign of a concession.
But with Zelensky, it’s hard to tell.
In most conflicts there is room for negotiation yet this isn’t ‘most’ conflicts.
It has become a bitter fight to the death between two implacable foes that will scar the continent of Europe for generations and has the potential to nudge that Doomsday Clock ever closer to the dreaded midnight hour.
As the spring thaw approaches, there is much talk of a renewed Russian offensive.
I genuinely fear that the worst has yet to come.