“Honestly, I didn’t believe in my heart that they were going to invade all of Ukraine. I thought there was a possibility that they would invade part of the country and even then it would be very dangerous.
MP Howlin said the specter of a modern democratic European country being attacked in 2022 is shocking. “It’s just mind-numbing and mind-boggling. It’s a wake-up call for all of us. What’s at stake now is Europe’s established political order.
Describing the Russian leader as delusional in the way he throws himself back into the dark Soviet era, Deputy Howlin said: ‘It would be like a deranged British suggestion that Ireland has gone bad and it must come back under English control again. The blind people of Ukraine are fighting for our independence and freedom, not just ours. That’s why there’s such a sense of solidarity from Tokyo to Australia to Europe around this.
As Finland plans to join NATO, MP Howlin said Putin had pushed other countries to act.
“I think that’s a game-changer. Look at the transformation of politics in Germany over the last week. It’s been breathless.”
He said Putin had upended Europe’s once strong economic infrastructure and his own country was paying the price. Comparing Putin’s regime to that of the Nazis, he said opponents were poisoned or killed by a “despot”.
“We must cry out to the inner bravery of the Russian people who are protesting against this war and who will be imprisoned for treason.”
He fears a major reaction from “this cornered individual”.
“I have no idea what Putin is going to do now. He is capable of anything. I think Putin did not expect Europe to unite in this way.”
He welcomes the sanctions, but is not sure that they have a deterrent effect.
“He sees himself as a modern Catherine the Great, a builder of the Russian empire and a spreader of Russian power. He wants to preserve that and not be swept away by history.
“Russia is prone to revolution. There comes a time when the strong man or woman fails and is taken to Russia and you just hope that day is not too far away, but in the meantime we are in dangerous territory .”
Deputy Howlin said Russian soldier morale was low and he expected another major offensive to come.
“I don’t think it’s in the nature of the beast to accept defeat. The only thing that can happen is for him to be defeated. The Ukrainian people will continue to resist.
“I have no doubt that he would retaliate with nuclear weapons; that’s how vulnerable things are. We have to increase the pressure, but in a measured way, which I know is extraordinarily difficult for the world, as you witness a bloodbath, which is the price of freedom, we will all have to endure trials.
MP Howlin said MEP Mick Wallace’s comments about Russia’s casualties prove “he is now an echo chamber for Russia’s cronies”.