France and Germany and the EU generally need to take over the leadership of NATO and work on marginalizing US and UK influence in the alliance over time. A defensive alliance among the European countries would be legitimate because those are individually small countries, and Russia has a lengthy history of expansionism going back for centuries. It would not be “wrong” for non-NATO countries like those in Scandinavia and the Caucasus to be part of such a defensive umbrella either. But at present NATO is merely an arm of Atlanticist imperialism. The Russians know this, of course, and obviously, they regard constant NATO expansion as a major security threat. This is not to say that Russia would not be imperialist even without NATO, but what is needed is a European alliance that can contain Russia while engaging in trade, diplomatic, and cultural exchange while recognizing Russia’s legitimate security interests. From the point of view of genuine American defensive interests, this would be an optimal situation as well, because Europe and Russia would be acting as constraints on each other without direct American involvement, thereby reducing the risk of nuclear exchange or direct military confrontation between the US and Russia.
By Con Coughlin, Telegraph
Putin’s latest threats show he is not beaten, but we are dangerously ill-equipped for a conventional conflict.
After the terrible drubbing the Russian military has suffered during the Ukraine conflict, Western leaders might be forgiven for concluding that Vladimir Putin no longer has the ability to threaten his European neighbours.
It is not just the devastating loss of tanks, artillery and armoured vehicles that has left Moscow struggling to maintain its “special military operation” against Ukraine. The high casualty rate suffered by Russian ground forces – which the Ukrainian military yesterday claimed stood at a staggering 34,230 war dead – is severely hampering Moscow’s attempts to seize control of the Donbas region.
Russian generals have been forced to cobble together front-line battalions consisting primarily of instructors, trainers and cooks. It has even been suggested that the Kremlin is considering granting an amnesty to prisoners convicted of minor crimes on condition they agree to fight in Ukraine. In short, the Russian war effort in Ukraine is in dire straits, a predicament that one might expect would encourage Putin to adopt a less confrontational tone with his Western rivals. A country that finds itself incapable of winning one conflict would be well-advised to avoid provoking another confrontation with its European neighbours.
Yet, to judge by the constant stream of threats emanating from the Kremlin, Putin’s enthusiasm for intimidating his adversaries remains unabated.
So far this week the Russian autocrat has warned that Moscow will soon deploy its new generation of Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles – also known as Satan II – which can destroy targets in Britain within three minutes of being launched.
With a range of 11,000 miles and carrying between 10 and 15 nuclear warheads apiece, Russia claims the missiles can fly at hypersonic speeds while bypassing existing European defence systems. The missile’s destructive force prompted one Russian television host, commenting shortly after Boris Johnson had made his second visit to Kyiv to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, to make the charming boast that a single Sarmat missile would be sufficient to destroy Britain “once and for all”.