The wife of President Michael D Higgins, Sabina Higgins’ comments on the war in Ukraine have attracted much public attention. Her original letter to The Irish Times appeared on the official Áras website but was later removed.
It was inevitable as the war trundled on people would grow tired. What is going to happen this autumn and winter when we run out of gas and oil?
And no doubt all of this was always part of the game-plan of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Back in June I wrote a letter to Yury Filatov, the Russian ambassador to Ireland.
I originally emailed the letter to the address given on the Russian Embassy website but the email bounced back explaining that the email address was blocked. I then emailed it to the visa section of the embassy. It did not bounce back so I can only presume it landed. So far I have received no reply. This is the letter I emailed to the embassy.
Greetings and good evening, I’m sad and upset. I visited your embassy either in 1984 to sign the condolence book of Yuri Andropov or else in 1985, again to offer my condolence on the occasion of the death of Konstantin Chernenko.
I am a retired German teacher and still work as a journalist and a hospital chaplain. I am a Dominican priest. In school we learned how Europe was freed of the Hitler dictatorship by the American and British armies. It was only in later life I learned the role the Soviet Army played in defeating Nazi Germany. I know the sacrifice the Soviet people made in World War II and the gigantic battle that was waged in Stalingrad under the genius commander, Georgy Zhukov. I’ve been to Treptower Park and seen for myself a glimpse of what Mother Russia paid in defeating Germany.
While teaching German in the then Sligo RTC, now Sligo Institute of Technology, I organised a trip of students and lecturers to Moscow and the then Leningrad. And now this terrible war. I know of the relationship between Russia and Ukraine and the long history the two nations have had. But your Excellency, Mr Ambassador I cannot for one moment make sense of what Russia is now doing. What is this war about? Can there ever be justification for the killing of a human being?
Mr Ambassador how would you react if your son or daughter were killed in Kherson or Mariupol? I recommend you read Natascha Wodin’s ‘Sie kam aus Mariupol’ - ‘She came from Mariupol’ (Rowohhlt Taschenbuch Verlag, 2019) What would the great Russian writers think of this horror? And it is a shocking horror. At present I am reading Catherine Belton’s book ‘Putin’s People’. Have you read it and if so would you make a comment on it?
One of the best books I have ever read is Vasily Grossman’s ‘Stalingrad’. I keep thinking of the irony that Grossman was a Ukrainian. I hope and pray that this war will end tomorrow and no more lives will be lost.
Best wishes. Your sincerely, Fr Michael Commane OP