Sutton Russian Circle member reacts to Ukraine invasion

A committee member of the Sutton Russian Circle who has lived in Russia and Ukraine has expressed his horror at the unfolding violence as Russia invades Ukraine.

Jeffrey Temple, 71, spent over 20 years in various regions of former Soviet territories while working in the oil industry, and is now also a board member of the British-Kazakh Society.

He is also the Central Asia Officer of the Russian Circle, a group of Russian history enthusiasts based out of Sutton.

Temple said: “I’m horrified by what Russia is doing.

“We have many friends across Ukraine, these are innocent people who are being placed in a war zone because of a despot in the Kremlin.

“I think it’s going to be impossible for Ukraine to hold out.”

Though the rapidity of the advance hasn’t surprised him, the foray beyond Donetsk and Luhansk, the regions recognised as independent by Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, has.

Speaking earlier this week, Temple said that the lack of opposition, a free press and popular political engagement all contributed to sustaining Putin in power.

He pointed to the example of Boris Nemtsov, a popular opposition politician who was assassinated a stone’s throw from the Kremlin in 2015.

Yet reports have flooded in today of demonstrations across Russia, with The Times stating that 1,700 arrests have been made across 53 cities.

Temple could not help but admire the bravery of those who dissented from Putin’s crudely effective propaganda machine, which he also believes is powerful enough to brainwash Russian soldiers into believing themselves liberators.

He has always made clear his great admiration for the people of Russia, nevertheless he has little affinity for the tsarist culture its president has fomented.

FROM SUTTON WITH LOVE: Jeff Temple in his natural habitat. Credit: Jeffrey Temple

He told us that anyone with authority kow-tows to Putin and he has physically protected himself by making the armed wings of the state subservient to him.

The actual manner of the invasion is certainly a cause for widespread alarm, but Russia-watchers have been aware of Putin’s westward designs for a long time.

A statistic that reveals this is Russia’s record-level stock of foreign reserves, which the BBC reported as being over $630 billion, which has surely been done with the aim of making Russia resilient to outside influence, including sanctions.

Temple said: “Putin has been preparing for this for a very long time and he is very well-prepared.”

Where this ends is impossible to say, as it rests on the Russian premier’s definition of Russia’s borders and the reaction of the west.

The only certainty, Temple believes, is Putin’s continued presence.

“He has gone so far within the country that he actually can’t give up power.

“Putin is there till he dies.”

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