Russia: Former US ambassador to Ukraine says Europe is ‘craven’
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NATO and the European Union might not get directly involved in a military confrontation with Russia, should Vladimir Putin decide to expand the conflict beyond Ukraine’s borders, a former US Ambassador to Ukraine has warned. As Europe is suffering from the economic sanctions imposed on Russia with inflation propelling up prices across the continent, former Ambassador Herbst says it is becoming more likely Europe will cave in. The latest Russian threat is an energy blackmail through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline – currently closed because of maintenance – which may not reopen on the July 21 deadline, dropping Russian gas imports to close to zero – a scenario that could plunge the EU into an energy crisis.
When asked about the possibility of Putin expanding the war beyond Ukraine’s border, Ambassador Herbst told Express.co.uk: “He [Putin] has said he believes he should have a substantial influence in all the post-Soviet countries.
“He has demanded that he can impose restrictions on NATO deployments among the former member of the Warsaw Pact. He’s not hiding this.”
On the danger of Russia invading NATO countries, Ambassador Herbst said: “You’ve just described the scenario as plausible where the EU is going to cave to Russia as it is committing mass atrocities in Ukraine.
“So, if the EU is willing to cave on Ukraine, why wouldn’t he bet on the Baltic States – these hard-to-defend little states that have joined the EU only relatively recently and joined NATO relatively recently and that Russia controlled for centuries?”
When pressed on the fact Russia would lose a war against NATO, Ambassador Herbst said: “Why would he assume NATO is going to fight? You’re describing a Europe that is craven – the same European countries that make up the EU make up NATO.”
Further elaborating, he said: “I’m saying that Putin might reckon that just as NATO has limited its support to Ukraine, just as the EU caved on sanctions, there will not be enough guts in Europe to defend the Baltic States.
“That is a very plausible scenario.
“What I just said is not a secret. It’s out there in the public domain. But a lot of Europeans refuse to think about this because they live in a dream world.”
“Europeans need to look a lot more seriously at what is on Putin’s mind,” Ambassador Herbst said.
“I think NATO is demonstrating that it’s going to stand for these countries with the latest deployments.”
In a direct warning to European leaders, Ambassador Herbst said: “But if Putin can crack sanctions with gas, if Putin can persuade the West to stop supporting Ukraine, he may well calculate he can create some sort of disturbance whether it’s in Latvia or Estonia and see.
“The same voices in Germany who said: ‘well G, we can’t risk a nuclear escalation of Ukraine’, they’ll be heard saying the same thing over the Baltic States.”
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The former Ambassador also warned the EU that the war in Ukraine is a battle against time, as Russia risks invading other countries if Putin is not stopped soon enough.
“It will be much less painful in all respects: economically, militarily to stop him in Ukraine than in Estonia,” he said.
European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen is expected to present a winter preparedness plan on 20 July that will try to ensure European countries have enough gas to get through winter in a bid to stave off the threat of Nord Stream 1’s shutdown beyond 21 July.
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