Sir, Whether one loves or loathes modern Russia and its president, the tone of Martin Wolf’s column “Resist Russian blackmail over Ukraine’s debt” (October 21) resembles that of Radio Tirana in the time of Enver Hoxha, or perhaps modern day broadcasts from North Korea. Its shrillness was quite unbecoming of such a fine commentator.

More importantly, he missed the real story in the sorry saga of Ukraine’s debt repayment — one in which Russia is not the villain. Former president Viktor Yanukovich is alleged to have embezzled some $70bn from his country, but is, as one newspaper in Kiev put it recently, a “disgraced runaway”.

Perhaps, rather than lambast Russia for the small amount of money it lent its neighbour — on good terms in hard times — Mr Wolf should be calling for Mr Yanukovich to return to Kiev, whereupon he could begin the long but necessary task of bringing this debt home. That would extinguish the threat of default, and the poor Ukrainian people might breathe more easily.

Alexander Lebedev

National Reserve Corporation,

Moscow, Russia