Patrick Turner: There is a clear path to stop and repel Putin and his legions

The former Assistant Secretary General for Defense Policy and Planning in NATO analyzed the current events in the Ukrainian war zone and presented some ideas for stopping Russian aggression

by Sededin Dedovic
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Patrick Turner: There is a clear path to stop and repel Putin and his legions
© Defense & Aerospace Report / Youtube channel

Suppressing Putin's government and his forces requires not only determination but also a strategic approach based on strong political will of the West. Patrick Turner, former Assistant Secretary General for Defense Policy and Planning at NATO, highlights this need in his analysis for the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA).

Two years after the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the situation is anything but encouraging. The indecision in the US Congress regarding support for Ukraine, former President Donald Trump's statements that appear to encourage Russia to attack US allies in Europe, and the tragic murder of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in prison, all create serious challenges.

In this context of external and internal threats, Europe's NATO allies must show determination in both defense spending and support for Ukraine. Recently released NATO figures predicting that European allies will collectively meet the two percent GDP defense target by 2024 is a step forward, with 17 individual allies spending at least two percent, up from just 10 in 2023.

But the question remains how encouraging it really is from a European perspective. Ten years after the original pledge of two percent at the Wales summit in 2014, more than a third of NATO members have yet to reach this goal.

Among them are large countries like Italy and Spain, which are still far from the goal, as well as Canada, which has no intention of reaching it. The seven allies hope to cross the two percent mark this year, but there is still room for improvement.

When it comes to supporting Ukraine, on February 1st, the European Union agreed on a package of 50 billion euros to help Ukraine over the next four years. French President Macron and German Chancellor Scholz signed bilateral agreements on security cooperation with Ukraine, which represents a significant step in strengthening relations with that country.

Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrive to speak to the media on the second da© Sean Gallup / Getty Images

However, although these agreements are important, their content and interpretation may be subject to debate.

For example, the text of the agreement between the United Kingdom and Ukraine mentions security cooperation, security guarantees, but does not explicitly mention NATO membership as a possibility, which would provide more significant protection.

As is well known from the ill-fated Budapest Memorandum of 1994, Western nations rarely go to war on the basis of cunningly worded documents. However, they could be motivated for military engagement based on the obligations specified in Article 5.

In the agreement of the United Kingdom, it was pointed out that one of the new security obligations includes the prevention and implementation of countermeasures against any military escalation or new aggression by the Russian Federation.

Also, while US support for Ukraine is significant, concrete measures are still being debated. Congress is fighting over a package that includes about $60 billion in military support, but no decision has yet been made. Total US military, financial and humanitarian support to Ukraine has amounted to about 75 billion dollars since the beginning of the invasion.

This investment proved extremely effective: in the great war to defend freedom and democracy in Europe, there was no loss of American soldiers (volunteers), while over 300,000 Russian soldiers lost their lives or were injured.

But Parker argues that US aid should not be completely relied on in this uncertain context, European allies must take greater responsibility and must not be trapped in the "follow the leader" game. Regardless of the political changes in Washington, they must take seriously their role in preserving peace and stability on the continent.

"The signals we are sending to our adversaries, including the Hitler of the 21st century who seeks to destroy European freedom and prosperity, are dangerously indecisive," Parker said. "The election in 2024 is a choice between giving ground to a dictator who will continue to take more pieces of Europe if he can, or a decisive confrontation with him so that Europe can be freed from this fear," he concluded.

This implies greater investment in defense, strengthening of military capabilities and support to Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. European countries could and should finance a support package for Ukraine, which would show their determination to defend common values.

"Indecisive leadership is unacceptable at this time. Clear signals must be sent to deter further Russian aggression and ensure stability in the region. This requires the vision, will and courage of our leaders and nations," Parker said and emphasized the importance of unity.

The elections in 2024 will be crucial for the future of Europe and Ukraine. Determination and action now can prevent further destabilization and ensure peace and prosperity in the region. Now is the moment for the West to show its strength and solidarity, because only together can we build a safer future.

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