THE West is risking the collapse of Nato and the EU by not facing up to Russian president Vladimir Putin, experts have warned.
Foreign affairs think-tank Chatham House warned that the conflict in Ukraine would be a “defining factor” for the future security of Europe – and suggested Moscow could use tactical nuclear weapons on Europe in future.
“Just because something is unimaginable for Western planners does not mean it is not considered a viable option by Russia,” it said.
The report – whose authors include two former ambassadors to Moscow, Sir Roderic Lyne and Sir Andrew Wood – is scathing about the failure of Western leaders to foresee the crisis in Ukraine, accusing them of “collective amnesia”.
At every stage, the report said, Mr Putin had been encouraged in his ambitions by the “weak and unconvincing responses” from the West.
“The Kremlin perceives that Europe lacks the will to pay the necessary price to defend its principles,” it said.
Failure to provide effective support for the Ukrainian government – whose forces have been “outgunned and outmanned” by the separatists – would, it said, have far-reaching consequences for Europe and the wider Western alliance.
It continued: “Russia may have the greater interest in Ukraine. But the West has an even bigger interest in preserving the post-Cold War environment.
“If that is dismantled, it is conceivable that Nato and the EU could collapse too.”
The current crisis comes at a time when Mr Putin is facing the greatest challenge of his 15-year rule, the report said.
But this could make the situation more dangerous, Chatham House warned.
“Indeed one school of thought holds that Moscow is at its most dangerous when weak,” the report said.
Full article: The West MUST face up to Putin – or Nato and the EU could collapse, warn experts (Express)