NATO officials say they believe Russia’s aggressive tactics may not be limited to just Ukraine, considering that countries bordering Ukraine were once Soviet or Soviet satellite states.
General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, NATO’s deputy commander of forces in Europe, told an audience at the Royal United Services Institute that Moscow’s ambitions are “an obvious existential threat to our whole being.” He also said NATO must develop plans “in order to convince Russia, or any other state adversary, that any attack on one NATO member will inevitably lead them into a conflict with the whole alliance.”
After Putin officially annexed Crimea from Ukraine last March, NATO and the EU jumped to Ukraine’s defense, even though Russian diplomats made veiled threats against the Baltics. One diplomat told the United Nations that Moscow is “concerned” over treatment of ethnic Russian speakers in Estonia. The Russian ambassador to Latvia told a Russian radio station that Moscow is ready to grant citizenship to any ethnic Russians in the country. In September, Konstantin Dolgov, Russia’s foreign ministry chief monitor of human rights overseas, said Russia’s top priority is to protect ethnic Russians all over the world. NATO also intercepted numerous Russian aircraft and ships in 2014, a huge jump from 2013.
Putin also organized tens of thousands of Russian troops and equipment along the Russia-Ukraine border. The Telegraph reports:
He [Bradshaw] said Russia had shown last year it could generate large conventional forces at short notice for snap exercises along its borders. There was a danger these could be used “not only for intimidation and coercion but potentially to seize Nato territory, after which the threat of escalation might be used to prevent re-establishment of territorial integrity. This use of so called escalation dominance was of course a classic Soviet technique.”
He went on to say that “the threat from Russia, together with the risk it brings of a miscalculation resulting in a strategic conflict, however unlikely we see it as being right now, represents an existential threat to our whole being.”
Poland recently announced a massive upgrade to their military in response to the crisis in Ukraine. The government will invest over $42 billion on military equipment and training to strengthen their forces. NATO member Poland, the country ripped apart by the Nazis and Soviet Union’s Red Army, no longer believes “peace in Europe is a given.” The $42 billion upgrade is the first in a decade, which includes “a missile shield and anti-aircraft systems as well as combat drones.” If the government purchases cruise missiles, then the air force can “attack targets in Russia without having to leave their own air force base.” Warsaw admits the crisis in Ukraine is the reason why the country needs to boost their defenses.
“The key to a political and military solution lies in Moscow,” announced President Bronislaw Komorowski. “The possibility of a lasting peace still isn’t close.”
Lithuania, a member of the Baltics, is one of the only outspoken allies of Ukraine, sending troops and weapons to combat Russian forces. President Dalia Grybauskaite called Russia a “terrorist state” and urged the EU to do more to help Ukraine.