His designed “strongman” saber-rattling is a distraction to his increasingly submissive domestic population, a tactic employed by despots and tyrants throughout history. He wants the West to please him, to appease the very real threat of his naked aggression.
The West must prove that we will not give in to Putin’s demands. We will support our allies and learn from our history. We must recognize our collective power and be sure of it.
As Christmas approaches, Putin has amassed 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border; and tomorrow Russia will hold talks with the United States and separately with NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
These talks aim to defuse tensions following Putin’s demands on December 17, which boil down to the Cold War mentality that “what’s ours is ours, what’s yours is negotiable.”
It demands an end to NATO expansion in the former Warsaw Pact countries, the withdrawal of American missiles from Europe, the end of military cooperation with the former Eastern bloc countries such as the Ukraine and NATO’s withdrawal from post-1997 states. Russia is anything but a threat of war if its demands are not met.
This is the typical Putin trick, he managed to create tension, expose a threat by deploying troops to the border with Ukraine, and then constructed a narrative in which NATO and allied countries are under pressure to renounce existing commitments and offer concessions to prevent a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
On the eve of the talks, Putin went further and sent 2,500 Russian troops to Kazakhstan. The reasons may be above all to consolidate an allied and neighboring dictator, but I’m sure he also sees it as a warning to those he meets tomorrow: borders mean nothing to him, and he is only too happy to extend the Russian Imperial Yoke, if we let it.
But we cannot allow these acts of aggression to discourage the UK’s resolve towards Ukraine or any other NATO ally.
Kazakhstan is one of Russia’s most powerful allies, and Russia entered the country at the behest of the current president of the regime.
Technically, Russia is also part of an alliance, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CTSC), made up of staunch defenders of freedom like Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Armenia. .
Any encroachment on Ukraine would be so different, a military invasion by an aggressor against the will of the Ukrainian people and their democratically elected government.
His threats and words must be met with a united resolve across all NATO and OSCE alliances.
Deterrence diplomacy forces us to stay strong and make a weak Putin understand that he must step back from Ukraine and not expect us to give up on our long-standing commitments to support our countries. NATO allies and stability on the European continent.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some issues on which a sensible and pragmatic agreement could help ease tensions.
All parties could agree to a reduction or limitation of military exercises; and of course arms control and the positioning of weapon arsenals in certain firing ranges. But then the question is whether we believe that Putin will honor his commitments.
It is NATO and our Five-Eyed Alliance, not the EU or any of their absurd armies, as some might claim, that are the cornerstones of our defense.
Putin recognizes this and is desperate to remove the alliance from its borders.
The conditions for NATO enlargement should be forged by its independent sovereign nations – not dictated by autocrats.
I called for the resumption of the accession talks with Bosnia and Herzegovina, as this would provide the security necessary to protect its people against the aggression of those individuals celebrating the genocide, still fascinated by the idea of a Greater Serbia.
What the countries of Central and Eastern Europe want, and have wanted since their liberation, is the ability to build their own nations, for the good of their own people, rather than just being a piggy bank or a pawn in international policy for Moscow.
The EU is unable to act on foreign policy because it is enveloped in its own bureaucratic network: with competing interests preventing Brussels from getting a clear idea on anything.
Where Poland might think of security against an aggressor, Germany might demand the preservation of its Russian gas supply; and Hungary from his friends in the Kremlin.
We can let Putin breathe and breathe, but we have to stay strong. Russia is a weak power, and we must recognize these documented demands for what they are: propaganda aimed at the Russian people.
NATO is here to stay. It’s a defensive pact, the only threat it could ever pose to Russia is for Putin to act as an aggressor.
Now is the time for the West to stand firm and ensure that NATO, the guarantor of our freedom, can protect millions more against a terrorist state and its dictator: Putin. Putin knows he can’t win. We in the West have the upper hand, we just have to act on it.