Alphen, Netherlands. 27 March. Yesterday my email was hacked by the (or a) Russians. The attack took place as I was briefing NATO commanders at the NATO Rapid Deployment Corps - Italy just outside Milan.
This was not the now usual bit of e-criminality that daily blights our lives. The people who know about these things confirm it was a sophisticated and personalised attack from somewhere/someone in Russia. Clearly something I had written had upset someone. As that someone said to me this morning - this was a shot across the bows - a warning.
And that is the point; implicit in the current crisis over Ukraine-Crimea is not just the use of force to assert territorial claims which is simply plain wrong. There is also the big issue of freedom and respect. If this kind of attack is how a Russian Europe would operate then count me out.
The frustrating thing for me is that I am sensitive to the Russian world view and I really want to understand it. Indeed, I have a huge respect for Russia and have studied its culture and its history. Indeed, unlike most Westerners I think I get Russia and understand the frustrations both the Kremlin and Russians feel about their treatment by the West, particularly over the past twenty years. Last year I had the very real honour of addressing the Moscow European Security Conference and was deeply moved and honoured to visit Victory Park and the War Museum.
However, when Russia makes big mistakes as it has just done by using force to annex Ukraine-Crimea I will call it as I see it and stand firmly with my friends in Eastern Europe who have been left concerned and uneasy by Russia's actions.
The bottom-line is this Moscow; until you engage criticism openly then it will be very hard for those of us willing to engage you constructively but critically to feel a dialogue is worth having. As for my views Moscow you should read what I say about our Dear Leaders in Brussels!
So long as Russia seems determined to replay the nineteenth century rather than the twenty-first we will simply talk past each other and that would be a tragedy not just for Europe but the wider world.
So, for the record, I am not in Kiev, I am not on holiday, I have not been mugged and I have not had anything whatsoever to do with the British Embassy therein. Mind you I was deeply moved by those of you out there offering to help. My apologies for any inconvenience.
Yes, Russia, I am hacked off!