A frank exchange of views outside the Russian Embassy in the early days of the war. RollingNews.ie file photo.

EDITORIAL: In A Russian Trance

Some who should know better should take a lesson from the determined group of people who have maintained a permanent picket outside the Russian Embassy on Dublin's Orwell Road since February, 2022 and the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

There are about fifty members of the group, according to a recent Irish Times report. They wave their banners and Ukrainian flags whenever Russian diplomats drive in and out of the embassy. Said diplomats respond by giving the finger.

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Doubtless, the people of Ukraine would gladly put up the insults of Russian "diplomacy." Instead, they have to suffer the endless assault on their country under the gaze of the heartless and soulless eyes of Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, those delivering the middle finger to the cause of freedom and democracy would appear to include members of the European Parliament.

According to reports, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has announced an investigation into suspected Russian interference in June's European elections, saying that his country’s intelligence service has confirmed the existence of a network trying to undermine support for Ukraine.

“Belgian intelligence services have confirmed the existence of pro-Russian interference networks with activities in several European countries and also here in Belgium,” said De Croo, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.

De Croo said that Belgian agencies are working closely with the Czech authorities after a pro-Russian influence operation was uncovered there. He said that probe showed that members of the European Parliament were approached and offered money to promote Russian propaganda.

Ah, the Almighty Ruble. Likely not. The Russians probably bribe with dollars or euros.

Anyway, over on this side of the Atlantic there was this report in the Washington Post pointing to Russian penetration of certain parts of the House Republican caucus.

Reported the Post: "In an interview with Puck News’s Julia Ioffe, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) — none other than the GOP chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — flat-out said that Russian propaganda has 'infected a good chunk of my party’s base.' McCaul suggested conservative media was to blame.

The Post reported another Republican committee chairman familiar with such issues — Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio) of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence — saying "much the same thing."
According to the report: "“Oh, it is absolutely true,” Turner said of McCaul’s comments. “We see directly coming from Russia attempts to mask communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages, some of which we even hear being uttered on the House floor.”

That there is a section of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives that, shall we say, is reluctant to leap to the defense of Ukraine, is widely known at this stage. They might crawl at the end of the day, but there will be no leaping.

At the same time there are Republican legislators who take a very different view of things. One such is Rep. Chuck Edwards of North Carolina.

He and a bipartisan group of legislators recently traveled to Ukraine to see at first hand what that country is facing.

They came back with the view that they needed to press House Speaker Mike Johnson to see through an aid package for Ukraine sooner rather than later. One such has already been approved by the Senate.

"I believe there's a way that we can responsibly help Ukraine," Rep. Edwards told the New York Times.

Just about any way would be responsible at this stage.

Hopefully, with its recent spring break in the rear view mirror, the House will now act on the lifeline that Ukraine so desperately needs in the face of ever increasing Russian pressure.

Back on Orwell Road the pickets of conscience continue their daily vigil in the face of raised middle fingers. 

Those same fingers are a perverse salute to the slaughter and maiming of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians - and Russians.

Dublin might be a cushy posting for the inhabitants of the Russian Embassy. But that doesn't mean that their time in Ireland should be entirely comfortable, entirely free of reminders of what their country is inflicting on Ukraine and the wider world.

Well done the picketers!