Threat of war edges closer to Europe

Threat of war edges closer to Europe

The verbal sabre-rattling between Russia and Nato members, especially the US, is escalating over rearmament and the deployment of heavy weapons. The political climate is getting rough, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein, and Europe has never been so close to war in half a century.

America's deployment of heavy weapons in Nato countries which border Russia - the Baltic states and Poland - has been countered by Russia placing offensive Iskander tactical ballistic missiles – capable of carrying nuclear warheads - to its westernmost area, the enclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea. Kaliningrad is sandwiched between Nato member states, Poland and Lithuania.

Russia on Tuesday (June 16, 2015) announced it intends to boost its nuclear arsenal with more than 40 intercontinental missiles which are able to overcome even the most modern missile protection programmes.

Meanwhile, the interests of the US in defending Europe has reached its lowest point – in spite of what is said. America’s pivot has moved to Asia and, to a lesser extent, the Middle East.

The US expects Europe to be grown up in defence matters. Nato member states can still count on US support if directly attacked. Other countries, however, would not be so fortunate.

This is consistent with what US President Barack Obama said at the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, when he harshly attacked the violation of Ukraine's borders but explicitly excluded military involvement by having troops on the ground.

The Kremlin knows perfectly well how unwilling the US is to be dragged into any conflict in Central Europe.

But Europe's defence is no match for Russia's armed forces.

Hybrid warfare, including cyber attacks, propaganda, disinformation and the creation of unrest is a skill known to the Kremlin, and does not necessarily trigger Nato's defence guarantee for its members.

The conflict in the Ukraine is escalating, exacerbated by the country's almost lethal economic crisis.

Ukraine is partially occupied by Russia (which continues its denial of any involvement) and is heading towards failed state status. This would be fatal to Europe's security.

Europe has never been so close to a major war since the threat of World War III during the Cuba crisis of the 1960s.

Europe is now facing the results of its past neglect in defence, both in creating efficient defence forces but also in creating a willingness among the people of Europe to fight aggressors.

This neglect, together with a lack of statesmanship, has contributed to the West’s inability to shape an efficient foreign and security policy with Russia.

It is worth recalling UK statesman Winston Churchill’s famous statement to Britain’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain after his betrayal of Central Europe to Germany’s Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in order to achieve ‘Peace for our time’.

Mr Churchill said, ‘Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonour. They chose dishonour. They will have war.’

Related reports:

Baltics need Nato support to stem Russia’s military might

Cutting US defence spending raises stakes in world’s hotspots

Russia 'unprepared' for modern war pushes forward nuclear option

Nato leaves Russia’s neighbours unclear over support

Nato’s readiness action plan: Is Putin’s nightmare coming true?

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