Can there have been any great international drama in which Western politicians have more completely stood reality on its head than the unending crisis over Ukraine, which is yet again creeping back into the headlines?
There was only ever one reason why the tragedy tearing Ukraine apart first erupted as it did in the winter of 2013/14: the hubristic itch of the EU, backed by the United States, to absorb Ukraine into its own ever-enlarging empire.
For this, the West was happy to see an elected pro-Russian Ukrainian president ousted in a coup d’état by an unelected stooge favourable to the EU. It was wholly predictable that the Russian-speakers of Crimea and eastern Ukraine would prefer to be ruled by their fellow Russians in Moscow, rather than by some weird form of government in faraway Brussels that they didn’t begin to understand.
It was dangerously crazy of the West to react as it did, with John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, describing Crimea’s vote to rejoin Russia as an incredible act of aggression; with Prince Charles comparing Putin to Hitler; and the EU’s ludicrous little foreign minister at the time, Baroness Ashton, being cheered in Kiev by 200,000 Ukrainians shouting Europe, Europe, many of whom had been paid by Brussels to do so.
So, after nearly three years of a civil war that has already left 9,000 dead, the leaders of the West remain as humiliatingly impotent as ever over how to respond to a shambles they did more than anyone else to create.
The only way this impasse will ever be resolved is by eastern Ukraine rejoining Russia. And President Vladimir Putin can wait, with his inscrutable smile, confident that, one way or another, that is what will one day come about.
The BBC won attention last week for its Freedom of Information Act request to local councils which revealed that up to 15 per cent of all the food and other organic waste they collect from our recycling bins just ends up in landfill or an incinerator, because different councils apply different rules.
Rather more interesting than that, however, was the story I reported in 2007, thanks to a brilliant investigation by our local ITV programme West Eye View, which showed how much of this waste is sent to landfill even after it has been turned into compost.
The programme secretly filmed 630 tonnes of food, which had been composted at £50 a tonne, being dumped in a Somerset tip, on which we then had to pay landfill tax at a further £21 a tonne. In Gloucester, where the council boasted on its website that food waste was spread on the land, a director of the company involved admitted that none of it ever left the landfill site. A Bristol councillor explained how the 400 tons of food waste they collected each week was trucked 110 miles to Dorset, and what then became of it he did not know.
This was only one of many stories I have written about the barely credible deceits by which we have met our targets under the EU’s Landfill Directive, which was designed, at a cost of billions of pounds, to switch from landfill to recycling.
The simplest trick of all is that waste for recycling needs only to be counted, as far as the EU is concerned, at the point where it is collected from our recycling bins. What happens next, and whether it is actually recycled, landfilled or shipped off abroad to be dumped in Asia or Africa, is of no concern to Brussels.
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