I thought that David Cameron, (British Foreign Sectary),’s remarks that Ukraine could use UK donated weapons to strike inside Russia would provoke a reaction.

Today Putin has initiated drills of battle-field nuclear weapons. The Foreign Ministry has warned, according to the Guardian, that “any British military facilities and equipment on the territory of Ukraine and abroad could be targeted”. What will the UK do if, for example, there is an unattributable bang at a base in Cyprus? Meanwhile the FT has published an article saying that Russia is preparing sabotage operations on Western soil. The Kremlin spokesman has denied this – but it would make a lot of sense. Sabotage operations, for example of an Internet cable in the North Sea, would be a major problem for the West. Such operations could panic Western populations and set them against the war. At the same time even if they could be conclusively attributed to Russia it would still pose a dilemma for Western leaders. Should they initiate WW3 over an internet cable?

The war in Ukraine has always presented a security dilemma for the West and this has not changed since day 1. If they give Ukraine the means to inflict serious harm on Russia then Russia will respond with an escalation which will almost certainly drag the West into a war. They have been so far, very careful to avoid this. On the other hand, if they don’t, then Ukraine will lose. Even if they could calibrate the drip-feed of weapons just right so Ukraine did not lose or win (the ideal from the Western point of view) then Ukraine would still be haemorrhaging men, which will mean that they will eventually lose. It seems that what is happening now is that Ukraine is beginning to lose and lose tangibly. Some in the Western camp are responding by ramping up the rhetoric and by loosening the restraints on weapons use. Macron is being quite logical when he talks about putting European troops into Ukraine. How else is Ukraine going to win, given their desperate manpower situation? But; where does that lead to? Cameron’s public granting of permission to Ukraine to strike Russia with British supplied cruise missiles seems panicky and ill-thought out. It is a sign of just how little thought Western leaders have put into this matter that we are here, two years after the start, and they still have not worked out the logic of the dilemma facing them and how to handle it in a rational way. There are only two ways out for the West; escalate (allow Western weapons to strike Russia, send in troops) to save the military position, or allow Ukraine to lose to a more powerful adversary, Russia. The wise course would have been to choose the latter at an opportune moment (obviously before the war started, but, failing that either in March 2022 or at the moment in 2022 when Ukraine had just had a successful counter-offensive; the moment when US General Milley recommended talks). The first option will lead to a response from Russia. They are already banging the tactical nuclear drum and threatening British bases. They may also be planning sabotage attacks; if the FT report is correct. This is the path towards a wider Russia v. the West war. That does not end well. One doesn’t want to be alarmist but now does seem like it would be, at last, a good moment to stop and think this through. The basic dilemma for the West does not change. Ukraine loses or the West goes to war with Russia.