Is The United Kingdom Ready For Russia’s Next Move?

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Handout via Reuters

A recent news article published in the I News states that this is no longer just a Russia-Ukraine war and the UK must be ready for Putin’s next move.

Sober strategic assessment of the Ukraine conflict

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is right to call for a sober strategic assessment of the Ukraine conflict. If conducted honestly it will offer a reality check about Russia’s long-term intentions, what “success” in Ukraine may look like, and the limitations of our own defence.

Ever more Western commentaries claim the tide has turned in our favour. Putin is now on the back foot. His troops are demoralised and running out of ammunition. The dictator’s popularity in Moscow is on the slide. All may be true but it’s the wrong conclusion to assume the fighting may be over soon or could head towards a stalemate and that it’s time for talks.

Let’s dismiss the myth that Russia’s brief dabble with democracy following the collapse of the Soviet Union can be rekindled. Russia’s invasions of Georgia, Crimea and now Ukraine prove it has resorted to type. Expansionism is how the Motherland has long learnt to defend itself.

Peter the Great pushed the Swedes back in the North. Catherine the Great took on the Turks in the South. And Stalin took on the Nazis in the West. Today it’s the threat of Nato, EU and Western norms that Putin spins as the threat to Russia.

This is not just about Ukraine but a wider battle against the threat of European values, hence Putin is widening the conflict well beyond Ukraine’s borders, weaponising grain, oil and gas to harm all European economies. The economic mayhem and political discord here in the UK caused by war in Eastern Europe will not have gone unnoticed by Russia. A wily Russian president seeking to leverage this further might sabotage one of the UK’s vital incoming energy interconnectors from Scandinavia.

Ironically, leading politicians regularly blame Russia’s illegal invasion for our economic woes here but fail to make the case for putting the fire in Ukraine out – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s in our economic interests to do so.

Russia’s wider intention

We must acknowledge Russia’s wider intention is to promote a new era of insecurity for which we are currently unprepared. Britain has led the way in pioneering ever more complex military support from across Europe. It has allowed Ukraine to secure sweeping territorial gains. But to what end? The Government’s standard reply is that “it’s for Ukraine to determine”.

This is to outsource our foreign policy and leave Ukraine to do all the heavy lifting. Let’s agree – this is now a European war and it’s in our collective interests to close it down. We should unite around the short-term mission to liberate Ukraine and long-term goal to stand up to Russia’s imperialist objectives in any part of Europe.

For at this moment Moscow rightly judges that Europe will endure one cold winter in support of Ukraine and no more. Our Prime Minister needs to change this mindset by making the case, not just to stay the course, but to win at a time when some allies are already losing the stomach for the fight. That means upgrading our own security architecture.

We can be rightly proud of Britain’s military support for Ukraine, but it has depleted much of our ammunition and equipment stocks. The threats we face – along with demands to step in domestically in response to industrial action – cannot be managed on a peacetime budget with an ever-shrinking military work force which has not received a substantial pay rise in years.

Our world is getting more dangerous, not less. Ukraine eloquently illustrates that our economy is affected by growing insecurity. If we lack the hard power to help protect grain ships from departing Odesa the cost of living will increase here in the UK. Investing in defence means investing in protecting our economy.

Opportunity to upgrade and re-design our European foreign policy

As Putin prepares for a spring initiative with further mobilisation of troops, this is not the time to blink. The Prime Minister’s audit offers the perfect opportunity to upgrade and re-design our European foreign policy. We need, in short, to clarify our objective, strategy and tactics up to and beyond the Ukraine war.

If we are to respond properly to the beginning of this new Cold War we have to get serious. We simply have no option but to have a new “Strategic Defence Review” and be ready to finance the recommendations. Spending three per cent of our GDP on retooling our armed forces is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity.

The first duty of any British government is to protect national security. Russia is a long-term threat, Ukraine must win and we must rearm. Let our Prime Minister understand that the world has changed and recognise the long game we are in.

 

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Source: I News

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