Amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine, a display of unity is being achieved between European countries and the U.S., writes Dr Lee Duffield.
CLUTTERING THE NEWS AGENDA with COVID-19 may be a necessary part of survival but can distract from other need-to-know topics - like the fast drift towards war in Central Europe.
Australian news media at the end of January provided updates from news agencies about Russian pressure on Ukraine, official warnings to Australians to get out and not go there, and a few fragments about U.S. President Joe Biden mobilising some troops.
It could be seen as a probable war where the Russians would gain territory including full land access to the Crimea, annexed to Russia by force in 2014 - "a quarrel in a faraway country, between people of whom we know nothing".
But a full-scale invasion, that might involve seizure of the national capital Kyiv and imposition of a Quisling government, more certainly means a cataclysm that will rebound for decades.
An analogy can be found with the second Gulf War in 2003, where the invading head of state, George W Bush of the United States, was notoriously dim and arguably as capricious as Russia's President Vladimir Putin in 2022. The disastrous outcomes of his callous and colossal error in Iraq continue to reverberate.
A scenario with Russian forces positioning to invade Ukraine and the Western alliance, NATO, putting ships, air and also ground forces into the immediate region was highly dangerous for Europe and for the future of humanity.
The following is precise of the situation produced by the specialist European news service, Politico, on 25 January, which fills in some gaps on what is happening in the Ukrainian theatre.
It signalled the kinds of developments for unwary and COVID-soaked observers to begin to watch, very closely. The world has been there before, as in 2003 with Iraq, or 1939, with the German Nazis wanting to "get back" lands occupied by people of their own "race" - much the same as Putin and ethnic Russians in Ukraine.
This despatch, 'Ukraine Latest', from Jakob Hanke Vela and Suzanne Lynch in Politico, tells about both the high-level seriousness of government-to-government activity underway and an interpretation coming from the Western European side - at this stage not giving way to fright:
Dr Lee Duffield is a former ABC foreign correspondent, political journalist and academic.