What is happening?
Putin has ordered an invasion of Ukraine. He aims to destroy it's military capabilities to "ensure Russia's security" and overthrow the existing democratic elected government, elected in free and fair elections, and install his own puppet regime, in a de facto annexing of the whole Country. Putin has stated that Ukraine is not County and does not have the right to exist. It is important to him as it is the 'bread basket' of Russia.
When did this start?
In 2014 Russia annexed The Crimea, a territory of The Ukraine. Our response to this (i.e. nothing) has lead to him being emboldened. This lesson is always true; if you do not stand up to a bully he will always come back for more.
Where can I find mostly unbiased information?
There is no free media in Russia - Putin has shut that down - all State broadcasters are organs of the Russian State. The BBC in the UK is also a 'State' TV channel but it completely independent and very often is a thorn in the side of governments of all colours here for it's fact based reporting. It is funded directly from the people and not by the State. It is not perfect but it mostly reports truth and facts. It is about as impartial as you can get. The BBC World Service is a radio/internet based radio service.
What can I do?
It is easy to feel helpless when such events happen but there are things you can do. Right now in fact.
1. Write to your elected officials
This does work - if they see emails/tweets/letters piling up on a subject, they take note. They rely on your vote to keep their job after all, unlike Putin who has rigged he electoral system, locked up opposition leaders, arrested protesters and closed down free speech. In Britain, you can contact your MP here. You might like to ask for stronger sanctions or seizures of assets.
2. Attend a public demonstration/vigil
Public pressure has undoubtedly forced Governments to ban Russian and Belarusian Aircraft across the whole of Europe and Germany's late, but welcome, change of heart.
3. Donate to charities to help the refugees
Tens of thousands of people are fleeing across the borders of neighbouring European Countries. This too to part of Putin's plans to destabilise and divide Europe, and to populate Ukraine with more and more ethic Russians to further cement his ludicrous claim that Ukraine is not and never was a separate Country. The Red Cross is a good solid charity who have feet on the ground in Ukraine and neighbouring affected Countries.
You could also donate directly to the Ukrainian Government if you are comfortable with that.
4. Use less energy
Europe relies on Russia for over 40% of it's crude oil and gas supplies. These are delivered mainly via pipelines through Poland, Ukraine and Germany. Even with sanctions, we are still paying Russia for that gas; helping to fund the regime change of a democratically elected Government in a Sovereign State, as well as the destruction of infrastructure and slaughter innocent people.
Make sure all your lights are energy efficient. Kitchen and bathrooms may have up to 8 spotlight that can be 50W each. A LED replacement bulb will use as little as 4W for the same light.
Boilers. At their default setting, these temperatures are usually too high. This doesn't make your home warmer, just adds massively to your bills and emissions. It's like putting your foot flat to the floor when driving – it's hugely wasteful but doesn't really affect your journey time. Hot water scalds above 60°C so why waste all that gas just to mix it with cold water?
If you have a combi-boiler, set your flow temperature to 50°C for hot water and 55°C for heating – it'll take a little longer to heat up, but the gas savings all add up.
If you have a boiler and a hot water cylinder, set the flow temperature on your boiler to around 62°C for heating and hot water, and set your hot water cylinder to 60°C also. This should be a high enough temperature to stop bacteria like legionella from multiplying.
Make sure your heating is only on when needed and that your boiler is constantly heating water all day. The trick is to set your heat to come on 30 minutes before it’s needed, and shut off 30 minutes early as well – so the room can heat up and you make the most of residual heat. Maybe the room thermostat can be reduced a bit and compensate by wearing an extra layer? Or individual room thermostats so some rooms aren't overheated?
But do make sure drafts are blocked! If you can feel a draft, grab a draft excluder and plug the gap – and remember to close any open windows before the sun goes down.
You’ll keep more heat in your home if you pull your curtains before it gets dark (up to 15% reduction in heat loss!). If you’re heading off to work and expect to be home after dark, simply pulling your curtains before you leave will help keep residual heat longer. Make sure your curtains don’t cover your radiators – this will just mean the heat escapes through the window rather than warming your room. And on radiators - check for cool spots and bleed them if you find any - here's how!
Do you have a log burner? Maybe you can use some old clothes as extra fuel to heat the house (this is not environmentally great but reduces your gas/electric footprint!)
Boil water in a kettle not on a hob; it's quicker and uses less energy. If using the oven turn it off a couple of minutes before finishing cooking; the residual heat will continue cooking your food at no extra energy use.
Do you need to use the car for that journey today? Could you walk, scoot or cycle, or maybe even use public transport?
5. Boycott Russian money
It's not easy to boycott Russian goods because all their imports are banking, money, oil and gas. However you can boycott the Russian Billionaires who made their money by Putin sponsored fraud and refuse to condemn his aggression and bloodshed.
Roman Abramovich who owns Chelsea Football Club is one such person. Their main sponsors are Nike, Three and Trivago - it might be worth contacting them to say you will boycott their goods unless they stop their sponsorship of a Club owned by someone who does not condemn Putin's behaviour.
BP owns 20% of Russian Energy firm Rosneft. This is owned and chaired by Igor Sechin, a close friend of Putin, with the BP Chief Executive, Bernard Looney (you couldn't make this up), alongside him. This must end. Avoid buying BP car fuels.
6. Boycott Sport that continue to compete in Russia
If a Sports federation hides behind the "we don't get involved in politics" line, boycott them and tell them so. This is not 'politics' this is naked aggression, regime change in a democratic Country. It is simply an act of war.
No International Sports events should take place in Russian now or in the future, preferably until Putin is gone. He loves them and they bring a lot of money and prestige to the Country.
Thank you to the Poland National football side for refusing to play Russia in the World Cup play-off. Time for the other Countries to step up - contact your FA to tell them so. We should push to expel Russian from the next FIFA World Cup, and if FIFA refuse, all our teams should boycott it.
F1 has cancelled the Russian GP after a strong kickback from the drivers - notably Sebastian Vettel (and big supporter of gay rights too btw). The HAAS team is funded by Uralkali, a Russian potash fertilizer producer of which Dmitry Mazepin, a Putin crony, is a key shareholder. To their credit they painted over their Russian livery and are trying to remove Uralkali. They also need to remove Mazepin's son as their driver. He only got the job because of daddy's money, there is no way it was on merit - he's rubbish. He also refuses to condemn the action of Putin in Ukraine.
7. Don't forget - all this applies to Belarus too...
Putin's lapdog Alexander Lukashenko has facilitated Putin in his crimes, allowing Putin's troops a staging post in Belarus. He is a mini-me who has brutally put down any opposition for his deputed Presidency. He thinks Hitler was good, when accused of being a dictator said 'better to be that than gay', and think that women are incapable of doing his job suggesting the burden would make them 'collapse, poor things'.
8. Last, but not least, don't victimise normal Russian people
Russian is censoring the Internet and Social Media in Russia but a large number of Russians are shocked at their Country's actions against Ukraine. Many have bravely protested and been arrested or beaten just for doing so. Many Russians hate Putin. We should not be against Russia or it's people, but the dictator Putin and his corrupt cronies. The World needs a strong vibrant free Russia with all of the wonderful culture it contains.
Remember: A pacifistic is not someone who never goes to war, they are someone who tries to prevents more war.
Freedom, Liberty, Peace.