Ukrainian parents writing phone numbers on children as Russian troops loot and torture across country – John Niven

You’re getting your wee one ready for school. Their lunch box is all packed. Water bottle topped up.

They’ve got their nice warm coat on. Brushed their teeth. Anything else? Oh Yes. You forgot one thing.

You forgot to write your next-of-kin details on their back in case you, or they, do not make it through the day alive.

Step back and picture yourself doing it for a moment.

You’re writing the name and phone number of your brother or sister, or a grandparent, on the bare back of your five-year-old in case a Russian shell or missile hits your apartment building while they’re at school.

Or in case a platoon of Russian soldiers comes to your town and executes all the men before raping and executing all the women.

In case your son or daughter gets home to find only rubble and a pile of dead bodies where their family used to be.

You’re hoping someone will find them, call the number on their flesh and somehow pack them off to their new life as an orphan.

This is the reality right now in Ukraine. And that’s a good outcome. Almost a best-case scenario.

The other one, the one you don’t want to think about, is that handwriting on their back being used to identify their body, in the event that it’s their school that gets hit by a stray missile or a stack of cluster bombs.

And this isn’t hyperbole. It’s now clear that Russian troops in Ukraine are engaging in war crimes on a vast scale.

This is the reality right now in Ukraine

President Zelensky laid it out in gross detail to the UN last Tuesday.

In a speech on his return from seeing Russia’s butchery in Bucha, he described how soldiers had tortured his citizens.

“I am addressing you on behalf of the people who honor the memory of the deceased every day,” he said.

“The memory of the killed civilians. Who were shot in the back of the head or in the eye after being tortured. Who were just shot on the streets. Who were thrown into a well, so that they die there in suffering.

Who were killed in apartments and houses, blown up by grenades. Who were crushed by tanks in civilian cars in the middle of the road. For fun. Whose limbs were cut off, whose throats were cut. Who were raped and killed in front of their own children.”

And this is only what we know has already happened in recaptured areas.

What could still be happening in regions of the Ukraine still controlled by Russia could be far, far worse.

Why are the Russian troops behaving like this?

One reason is that they’ve been prepared to behave like this: in the run-up to the war, the Ukrainian military were demonized for them as Nazis by state-controlled media.

The other answer, horrifically, is that they are behaving the way invading troops have since the beginning of time.

Imagine the most yokel village you have ever been to in the UK. A real one-horse town. The kind of place with one petrol pump and a terrifying pub. Where the locals stared at you as though you were an alien being when you stopped to ask for directions.

Well, that place is like downtown Manhattan compared to much of rural Russia.

You’re talking about troops who have never seen cement roads. Or street lights.

Who cannot believe the luxury the Ukrainians are living in, whose reaction to encountering it is to loot and pillage as much as they can get their hands on: washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, jewelery, cars, bicycles, carpets, children’s toys and cosmetics .

Tanks weighed down with unimaginable bounty.

And with looting and pillaging comes resistance. And then beatings and executions. And then torture and rape. And then you’re through a door where anything goes.

A lifetime ago, 1943, when my mother was a baby, the German military raped and murdered their way across Ukraine during its invasion of Russia.

As the world came to terms with these horrors in the wake of World War II, the words “Never Again” became a mantra. They gave rise to the United Nations. And where is that fine body today?

Well, after Zelensky pointed out that Russia was still, incredibly, until last week, a member of the UN Human Rights Council, they finally woke up and expelled them. Too little, too late.

“Where is the security that the (UN) Security Council guarantees?” Zelensky asked. “There is no security. Although there is a Security Council, it is as if nothing happened. So where is the peace that the United Nations was created to guarantee?”

You could hear the tumbleweed blowing through the chamber.

Never underestimate a master… Augusta hears Tiger’s roar again

A friend asked me last week if I thought Tiger Woods was worth sticking a few quid on for The Masters at 40/1.

“Nah,” I said. “No chance.” Once again, there goes my punditry career.

Because Tiger, playing his first round of competitive golf in over a year, since he smashed himself to pieces in a car crash that would have ended the professional career of most players, went out on Thursday morning and shot one under par to finish just three shots off the lead.

Tiger Woods went out on Thursday morning and shot one under par to finish just three shots off the lead
Golf – The Masters – Augusta National Golf Club – Augusta, Georgia, US – April 7, 2022 Tiger Woods of the US reacts on the 18th green after finishing the first round REUTERS/Mike Blake

Who knows where he’ll be come Sunday morning, when you’re reading this, but his performance has certainly made me rethink my own preparations for this year’s golfing season.

Forget the usual hours on the practice range. I’m going to drive my car into a wall.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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