The former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO has warned that, left unchecked, Russia is on “course” for a potential conflict with NATO, one that he believes could even go nuclear.
U.S. Navy Adm. (ret.) James Stavridis warned of the impending conflict in a forward for a book published Wednesday by his former colleague British Army Gen. Sir Alexander Richard Shirreff titled 2017 War With Russia. Stavridis served as Supreme Allied Commander from July 2009 to 2013, while Shirreff served as deputy from 2011 to 2014. Both men witnessed the beginning of Russia’s military aggression in Europe, and are intimately familiar with the threat it continues to pose.
“Under President Putin, Russia has charted a dangerous course that, if it is allowed to continue, may lead inexorably to a clash with NATO,” wrote Stavridis. “And that will mean a war that could so easily go nuclear.”
Shirreff offered details about how such a conflict would unfold. He believes that Putin will continue to target eastern Ukraine in order to seize territory that would create a land passage to Crimea, eventually allowing Russia to invade the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. Shirreff believes that Latvia would be the first Russian target.
Given that all three Baltic states are NATO members, a Russian attack would invoke the collective defense clause in the NATO agreement, which states that “an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies.”
In order to stave off a NATO response, Shirreff believes that Russia could threaten a nuclear attack, escalating the situation dramatically. It is for this reason that he believes maintaining a nuclear counter to Russia is paramount.
“Be under no illusion whatsoever – Russian use of nuclear weapons is hardwired into Moscow’s military strategy,” wrote Shirreff. Russia announced last week that it plans to deploy the largest inter-continental ballistic missile ever created in 2018, while President Barack Obama continues to push for de-nuclearization.
The former deputy commander offered plenty of criticism for both NATO and the U.K., claiming that NATO is ill-prepared to counter Russian aggression while British Prime Minister David Cameron has “made himself increasingly irrelevant on the international stage.”
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