Russia: Attack on Ukraine ‘highly likely’ says Howarth
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Ukraine has called for a meeting with Russia and other members of a key European security group over the escalating tensions on its border. While Russia has held talks with political figures from the West in recent days, including Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and French President Emmanuel Macron, it has continued to amass troops along its shared border with Ukraine. There are now thought to be more than 100,000 military personnel, tanks and other heavy weaponry, in the region.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia had ignored formal requests to explain the build-up of troops, and said the next step was requesting a meeting in the next 48 hours for transparency about Russia’s plans.
Moscow has denied it plans to invade Ukraine, arguing that it is protecting itself against potential eastward expansion of NATO should Ukraine sign up to the alliance.
Several economic and logistical factors currently underpin the tensions and go some way in explaining why the West has struggled to resolve the issue: things like Europe’s reliance on Russian gas and the considerable number of oligarchs with links to the Kremlin resident in European capitals, particularly London.
These vested interests and deep ties between conflicting nations may explain why current tensions are panning out unlike anything seen before, according to Professor Julian Lindley-French.
The internationally recognised strategic analyst and advisor in defence, who has worked with NATO, uses the term “5D warfare” to describe what Putin is currently deploying: a way to damage an enemy, in this case the West, through any means other than physical conflict.
He told Express.co.uk: “The way he’s doing it is not through the direct use of Russian military power, it’s through complex strategic coercion, or Strategic Maskirovka, or 5D warfare.
“He combines disinformation, deception, and destabilisation with disruption and implied destruction as a means of coercing the states around his border.
“What he wants is compliant governments in those capitals in the countries around Russia, whether it’s Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Ukraine, or wherever, that will do his bidding.
“He’ll use whatever means it takes short of war with NATO to achieve this.”
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The geopolitical expert claims that this type of conflict will likely be the main and new method of warfare in the future that spans the “hybrid, cyber, hyper warfare spectrum”.
He says future war will be a “complex matrix of coercive actions” which will form part of a new escalation of conflict designed to “blackmail” the target into accepting what could be perceived as unacceptable actions — massing troops along a country’s border in a menacing way, for example.
While many claim that Russia will not invade Ukraine for fear of Western reprisal, Prof Linley-French suggests that Putin and his advisers know everything there is to know about the West and its reactions to such dilemmas.
Noting that Russia has for years studied the weaknesses of Western society, he said Moscow now “intellectually” understands alliances in the West and will apply pressure on existing vulnerabilities to achieve its goals.
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Perhaps the most salient example of this is the Nord Stream project, two huge pipelines — one not yet operational — that supply Europe with Russian gas.
Controversial from the outset, the newer, Nord Stream 2 pipeline — which directly links Russia and Germany — has found itself at the centre of tensions.
While the US insists that it will not open if Russia invades, Germany and its new Chancellor Olaf Scholz have been decidedly quiet on the issue.
In a recent press interview about the Russia-Ukraine situation, Mr Scholz failed to even utter the words “Nord Stream”.
Germany is heavily involved in the Nord Stream project in all senses of the word, not only sharing a portion of the pipeline with Russia, but also having several key German political and historical figures involved with the Nord Stream consortium.
Gerhard Schröder, Germany’s former Chancellor, is Nord Stream AG’s Chairman of the Board, while Matthias Warnig, a former officer in the Stasi, is its CEO.
Mr Schröder and Putin enjoyed good relations during their political careers, with the German having called the Russian a “flawless democrat” in 2004.
The former Chancellor dined with Putin for his 70th birthday in 2014 — just weeks after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
Mr Warning, meanwhile, has been described as an “ally” of Putin, the pair having allegedly worked together while Putin was an officer with the KGB in the Seventies.
He denies this, however, asserting that they did not meet for the first time until 1991 when Putin was the head of the Committee for External Relations of the Saint Petersburg Mayor’s Office.
A photo published in The Sunday Times this weekend, allegedly from the Stasi archives, appeared to show the two posing for a group photo of Stasi and KGB officers during a visit to the museum of the 1st Guards Tank Army in Dresden in 1989.
Meanwhile, the US has said Moscow could begin an invasion with aerial bombardments “at any time” and more than a dozen nations have urged their citizens to leave Ukraine.
Some intelligence experts have said Russia is planning on invading on Wednesday — although this could change at any point.
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