- - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Gen. Sir Richard Shirreff, who served as NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander for three years until 2014, has stated in a recently published book that barring increased NATO defenses, Russia will invade the Baltic states within a year and threaten the West with nuclear war. The book, “2017 War with Russia,” lays out the potential nightmare scenario and the West’s options in deterring this possible Kremlin aggression. Gen. Shirreff discussed the possibility today on BBC.

“In a period of tension, an attack on the Baltic states … is entirely plausible. The chilling fact is that because Russia hardwires nuclear thinking and capability to every aspect of their defence capability, this would be nuclear war. We need to judge President Putin by his deeds not his words,” he added. “He has invaded Georgia, he has invaded the Crimea, he has invaded Ukraine. He has used force and got away with it.

The crux of the general’s argument is that NATO has reduced its defenses in Europe to a level that smacks of weakness and invites aggression from a Russia that is keen to rebuild what it lost geographically when the Soviet Union fell. “I would argue the bar is not high enough at the moment,” he added.

In the preface to his book, Gen. Shirreff is critical of recent defence cuts in the UK, writing: “A country famous for once ‘walking softly and carrying a big stick’… now had a leadership that shouted loudly but, thanks to ongoing defence cuts, carried an increasingly tiny and impotent stick.”

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