Former deputy supreme allied commander Europe Sir Richard Shirreff said that Ukraine is “fighting Europe’s war”, as well as a “global war” and NATO needs to do everything in its power to prevent the expansion of the conflict into neighbouring regions. Amid Russian suggestions that they would retaliate against further NATO member states if they continue to supply Ukraine with weapons and indirect support, Sir Richard said that the alliance needs to be “prepared for the worst case”, which is war with Russia.
He told LBC: “[Ukraine] are fighting Europe’s war. In a sense, it’s a global war against a blood-stained tyrant doing unspeakable things to his neighbour.
“The challenge NATO faces, and of course, NATO is absolutely the key to this, is to take risk with the support of Ukraine, not just weaponry but with indirect support as well, without a hot war in Ukraine turning into a hot war across the rest of Europe.
“The way, I’m sure, NATO needs to do this is to adopt a mindset that says it’s prepared for the worst case.
“The worst case is war with Russia, and the way to prevent a war with Russia and NATO is for the alliance to really ramp up its capabilities and be prepared, as I said, for the worst case.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24 and despite President Vladimir Putin’s hopes, it has dragged into its third month.
Russian troops have at least temporarily halted their offensive in central Ukraine, retreating to the eastern regions.
But the devastation in the Donbas region has continued, with thousands of casualties, including Ukrainian civilians.
Ukraine’s presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych claimed that the nation has suffered “serious losses” after 66 days of fighting, though he added that “Russia’s losses are much bigger … they have colossal losses”.
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Russia has stepped up its calling out of NATO in recent weeks and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov accused the alliance today of blocking a resolution to the Ukrainian crisis.
He said: “By publicly expressing support for the Kyiv regime, Nato countries are doing everything to prevent the completion of the operation by reaching political agreements.
“If the US and Nato are really interested in resolving the Ukrainian crisis, then, firstly, they should change their minds and stop supplying arms and ammunition to Kyiv.”
He then suggested that the supply of weapons by NATO was helping neo-Nazi Ukrainian forces “wage a war against its own population, against civilians in the country’s east.”
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Tensions between Russia and the West have escalated as Putin and his officials make renewed threats of nuclear retaliation.
The great-granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev, who was leader of the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, warned that nuclear war is “closer” than it ever has been.
Nina Khrushcheva, a professor of international affairs at the New School in New York, said: “We are closer to more issues, nuclear, than any other way.
“I don’t see any side today, particularly the Russian side, backing off, and that’s what really scares me the most.”