The New Observer Uncategorized Pumping up the threat from Russia for gain

Pumping up the threat from Russia for gain

I am just bemused by the low level of analysis offered by these Western think tank people. This is a Professor at a London University an expert in defence studies and a former director of the Royal United Services Institute and MOD linked Royal College of Defence Studies. He is chirruping about the USD 61 billion. He keeps saying “now Ukraine can plan”.

Until the end of the year.

This is going to run out in one year. It it took months to get it past Congress this time and given that opinion polls in the US show an upwards trend against funding the war, it looks far from certain that there will be another package on offer for Ukraine next year. By his own admission all this means (he believes) is that Ukraine will not collapse this year. Are these people really still dreaming? Ukraine will use the USD 61 billion to consolidate this year. Next year, there will be another USD 61 billion – and Ukraine will “win”? The “Spring offensive” reborn? Doesn’t it need manpower to win?

By the way – I’ve seen that Russia is spending 7.1% of its GDP on the military per year. That means about USD 161 billion per year (on total military). [1] And a population advantage of 3-4 times. Oh dear.

On the nuclear question the Professor is delusional. “Russia is just threatening. Don’t worry about it. The threat is no greater now than before the war”. True; there is/was an element of bluff. Putin (as Russian leaders before him) tried to dissuade the West from becoming involved by invoking the nuclear threat. That failed. However; it is also true that were Russia to start to actually lose – for example were (hypothetical) Ukrainian ground forces to push Russia out of Crimea and perhaps put the political centre under severe pressure then there is a non “magical” i.e. actual risk. The Professor doesn’t seem able to distinguish the two.

The Professor looks at the camera with a serious face and produces the line about how Russia will attack the rest of Europe after Ukraine. This shows a lack of military awareness; Russia would get wiped out by NATO conventionally as Putin I think knows; they make heavy weather against a Ukraine which is ‘denied’ the long-range missiles and air-power that NATO would have; how would they fare against NATO? It also shows a void where any political analysis might be, as to why Russia launched their operation in February 2022. It was a defensive operation to deal with a perceived threat on their Western flank from an unstable and hostile country being armed by the US. (There is an argument that Russia accentuated the threat by annexing Crimea in 2014; but this still does not have anything to do with the notion of “imperial expansion” which underlies the idea of Russia being on the march across Ukraine towards Europe. The annexation of Crimea can also be understood defensively; they didn’t want to lose their main Black Sea port to NATO which was in the process of capturing Ukraine. It is a myth of Western propaganda that in 2014 there was some kind of huge popular demand in Ukraine to join NATO. There wasn’t. But nonetheless the US and Europe were trying to tip Ukraine into their orbit). Given that the basis of the Russian action is defensive; they are not going to up and attack Poland tomorrow. Of course; in the present escalatory climate, for example, Poland talking about hosting US nuclear weapons, the pressures of the ‘security dilemma’ increase which means that ‘pre-emptive’ strikes to curtail a threat before it becomes too big are theoretically possible. But, from the Russian point of view, NATO is already a given. Any attack on a NATO country would be suicidal for Russia. They would only do it if absolutely cornered and felt themselves to be under imminent total threat.

This all looks like Cold War I, NATO linked ‘experts’ talking up the Russia threat in order to promote the military and defence industries. For example the RUSI, which the speaker is a former director of, receives funding from the State Department, the EU, BAE Systems plc, Lockheed Martin and others. [2] Professor Clarke is, in fact, some kind of salesman.


Foreign Affairs (a Western think-tank) has published a paper today which seems very credible about the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in 2022. (Possible paywall I am afraid, if this is not your first article). Note:

In the end, it remains unclear whether these provisions [on ‘de-Nazification’] would have been a deal-breaker. The lead Ukrainian negotiator, Arakhamia, later downplayed their importance. As he put it in a November 2023 interview on a Ukrainian television news program, Russia had “hoped until the last moment that they [could] squeeze us to sign such an agreement, that we [would] adopt neutrality. This was the biggest thing for them. They were ready to finish the war if we, like Finland [during the Cold War], adopted neutrality and undertook not to join NATO.”

This, seemingly serious and credible piece of modern history, should put completely to bed all these lines about “after Ukraine Putin will attack Europe”. This modern history is also exactly in lime with Professor John Mearsheimer’s notion that based on his theory of IR and observations of statements from Russia, the absolutely key issue in all this is just what the lead Ukrainian negotiator is quoted as saying: the key issue for Russia was Ukraine’s membership of NATO.

One final point: in 2014 demand for NATO membership was not strong in Ukraine. In the Southern and Eastern regions, less than 20%. [3] Even in 2021 it was only 54%. (I think this survey probably excluded Crimea). [4] All this seems to leave us with: 1) key issue for the Kremlin; Ukraine’s proposed membership of NATO, 2) NATO membership was not some kind of democratic wish of the Ukrainian people but was something foisted on them by the West. Who started this war?


  3. Gallup
  4. Quoted from Sakwa. International Republican Institute, ‘IRI Ukraine Poll Shows Support for EU/NATO Membership, Concerns over Economy and Vaccines for Covid-19’, 17 December 2021, 54% wanted to join NATO