THE Cold War between Western and Eastern countries was nasty, brutish and took a very long to bring to an end. The two powerful ideological, military and economic blocs existed under the Warsaw Pact (Eastern Europe) and NATO( Western Europe and North America).
When the Eastern Bloc disintegrated and those States mostly transformed into part of the new European Union countries,the ideology of the West expanded and their borders with Russia became a matter of suspicion for Moscow. The nostalgic communists like President Vladimir Putin missed the old untouchable Soviet Union. He was a trophy spy of the KGB and, in his eyes, the advances of former Soviet countries towards Western ideology were not going to be a lasting affair.
Eastern Europeans in Northern Ireland experienced a level of abandonment when Brexit happened. They felt that when Britain left the EU through the 2016 Referendum, their stay in the UK was not welcome. Now that the Russian president has thrown away the book of international peace and diplomacy and replaced it with belligerent rhetoric and bombings, Eastern European migrants are back as a topic. Some people are saying that they should return to their countries, organise and resist Putin's army. Indeed, many have started leaving the UK with all manner of emergency equipment to support forces in Ukraine. This is a very serious turn of events. Others have decided to stay because the war is not theirs.
Some may sound like Putin apologists because they are arguing, why now, when you whipped your population to support Britain's withdrawal from the European Union? Are they actually appeasing Putin? They are nervous about him. They are afraid that unpredictable Putin can easily dominate their countries at the drop of a hat. There is nothing advanced about this kind of thinking. Putin has said he won't invade Ukraine but he has moved in there with a brutal war of attrition. He is indiscriminately bombing women, children and men out of their bomb shelters. He is  using advanced killer technology. Putin has also said he will attack a given geographical place and he did. He took Crimea with the ease of a toddler snatching a toy from another child.
So the sense of fear coupled with his nuclear arsenal preemptive talk, all this is putting the whole of Europe in a very different place. The country that fears the most what Putin can or cannot do is Poland.
In history, there has never been a love or love relationship between the Russian state and Poland. Many Polish people here in Northern Ireland have families back home. Some have homes there. In their mind, the idea of Putin attacking countries that have given support to Ukraine is a genuine one of life and death.
The problem with Russia now is the crisis in leadership.There is a real power vacuum. No-one can take on Putin. He has spread his wings to every inch of society. All long-term dictators do this because of fear. Paranoid Putin sits very far away from his army generals and ministers when he is announcing the latest orders. When he made that stupid statement of high nuclear deterrent recently, his Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu was visibly shocked. He could be seen taking a deep breath before saying, “Yes, sir,” Putin is very serious.
This particular war should be straightforward, it should not divide people between anti- and pro-Putin.There is only one highway and that is anti-Putin.
• Elly Omondi Odhiambo is a writer based in Belfast.