Russia: NATO to ‘send message’ says expert
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NATO must stand firm in the face of Russian attempts to “spook” the West with nuclear threats, and consider Ukraine’s bid for membership of the alliance, an influential MP has said. Tobias Ellwood also said Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch his invasion on February 24 was based on “false information” fed to him by Kremlin advisers keen to “tell him what he wants to hear, while Russia’s progress had been compounded by “strategic errors of judgment”.
Denys Shmyhal’ Ukraine’s Prime Minister last month confirmed that he, together with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ruslan Stefanchuk, the speaker of the country’s parliament had signed a formal fast-track membership application for NATO.
Should their bid succeed, other members of the alliance would be required to come to Ukraine’s aid, raising the prospect of direct clashes with Russian troops.
Earlier this week, state news agency TASS quoted Alexander Venediktov, the deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, as saying: “Kyiv is well aware that such a step would mean a guaranteed escalation to World War Three.”
Speaking at a press conference in the Kazakh capital Astana today, the Russian President said any direct clash of NATO troops with Russia would lead to a “global catastrophe”.
He added: “I hope that those who are saying this are smart enough not to take such steps.
Putin has also issued thinly veiled threats related to the potential use of nuclear weapons inside Ukraine – but Mr Ellwood said the West should not be cowed into blocking Ukraine from becoming a member.
He explained: “We are moving from the here and now of what we’re doing to support Ukraine defeat Russia, to then considering how can we make sure Russia doesn’t come back in the future.
“So it is a very pertinent question. If Ukraine is included as a democratic state, as part of Europe, under threat from another country, then absolutely yes, it’s something that we should be considering.
“Because it’s then about the long-term security that we can provide, and NATO does that just with a signing of a document.
“And I don’t believe we should be spooked by by Russia’s response.
“The more we do everything we can to further embarrass and isolate Putin, the more chance there is eventually of him being removed by his own people.”
Asked to speculate what was driving the 70-year-old former KGB officer, Mr Ellwood said: “I think he’s fed false information because put simply, the machine doesn’t work as it should do.
“So Putin is told what he wants to hear, that back in February the Ukrainian people were wanting to return back to the their Slavic roots and rejoin Russia, which firstly is a false interpretation of the history and secondly, doesn’t factor in the true position of the Ukrainians themselves.
“So strategic errors of judgement were made, there was poor leadership and the initial invasion, trying to take Kyiv, collapsed.
“Their second approach in trying to advance from the eastern flank has also failed.
“There has been this potent mix of courageous will to fight by the Ukrainians supported by Western competitors by weapons and ammunition.”
On September 21, Putin warned the West he was not bluffing when he said he would be ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia against what he claimed was “nuclear blackmail” from major Western powers.
US President Joe Biden has said the world faces the biggest risk of nuclear Armageddon since 1962’s Cuban Missile Crisis.
NATO is scheduled to stage an annual nuclear preparedness exercise dubbed “Steadfast Noon” next week, with Britain one of the countries participating.
Between them, Russia and the United States have roughly 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads.
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