Speaking to Express.co.uk former colonel and Britain’s former Defence Attaché to Afghanistan Simon Diggins said Russian President Putin is an “opportunist” and that the West need to “match him”. In a warning of Putin’s power, Diggins explained that Putin must be stopped from “helping himself” to “bits of the old Soviet empire” such as the Donbass region of Ukraine which in recent weeks has seen a mounting a military presence. Diggins stressed that Putin must be made aware by the west that he cannot deploy “use of force” to solve territorial disputes.
Colonel Diggins said: “I think Putin is an opportunist, in the same was he took the Crimea in 2014.
“He is looking for an opportunity, I think, to at last try and claim back the Russian speaking enclave of eastern Ukraine, the Donbass region.”
Diggins went on to say: “He will look for signs of weakness, he will look for a period of weakness or when the West is diverted doing something else, or he feels he can get away with it or there’s a rebellion.”
The former colonel then stressed: “He’ll use some kind of excuse and we need to match him I fear.”
Diggins went further saying: “We need to be prepared to make clear to him that we are not prepared to see him helping himself to any bits of the old Soviet empire that he feels he wants.
“There is a rules based order which is that you don’t resolve territorial disputes by use of force.”
The former attaché went on to urge: “We need to try and make it clear to him that behaviour is unnacceptable.”
In a wide ranging interview Colonel Diggins also explained how President Putin sees Britain as a “point of weakness” and will “scratch away” at various countries, including Germany, to test their response.
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But the former defence Attaché said: “With Britain, it’s Britains’ changing relationship with Europe.
“Whatever you say, we have put ourselves in a different place to where we were prior to 2016.”
He explained how Putin “doesn’t know yet what that means in terms of weakness” as “it’s not entirely clear” but will “scratch away” at areas of contention including the future relationship of the USA and NATO.
And Diggins finished by saying: “I think the frustration of many US governments since (Obama) has been over the European’s apparent reluctance to ensure their own defence is in good order, they have tended to rely on the umbrella of Uncle Sam…so we should never take these things for granted, there is nothing fixed about an international order”