NATO has been defeated by Vladimir Putin calling the alliance’s bluff over Ukraine, and should be replaced with a smaller coalition of nations prepared to be more offensive, Britain’s former army commander said today.
General Sir Nick Parker called his suggestion ‘controversial,’ but pointed to the fact that the 30-member alliance – that includes the US, the UK and several European nations – had been unable to prevent the Russian president’s invasion of Ukraine.
The former commander of land forces in the British Army said NATO is now in a defensive position, holding the alliance’s eastern flank that last expanded in 2004.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that a smaller military alliance would be better suited to ‘develop an offensive counter-strategy to Putin.’
General Sir Nick Parker (pictured, file photo) told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that NATO has been defeated by Vladimir Putin calling the alliance’s bluff over Ukraine, and should be replaced with a smaller coalition that is better suited to counter the threat posed by Russia
Pictured: Local residents walk near an apartment building destroyed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 30, 2022
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about NATO’s response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, General Parker said: ‘Slightly controversially I suppose, I mean Nato’s been defeated, Nato’s bluff was called.
‘We were unable to stop the Russians trampling all over Ukraine and now Nato is holding the line of the 2004 expansion, along the line of the Baltic states and Poland and Hungary and Romania.
He continued: ‘And what it has to do is to defend that line, it’s in what in military terms we would call a defensive position. And I don’t think it has the capacity to move on to the offensive with its 30 nations all with slightly different views.
‘We need to have a smaller coalition of nations who can start to develop an offensive counter-strategy to Putin.’
His comments came as Ukraine offered to drop its ambition to join NATO in a bid to end the war, with peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv set to resume on Friday.
Putin has used NATO’s eastward expansion as one of several justifications for his brutal war, and has demanded Ukraine pursues neutrality as a condition to withdraw.
Meanwhile, NATO countries have repeatedly refused requests from Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky to directly aid his country’s fight against Moscow’s invading forces out of fear of being dragged into a wider conflict with Russia.
Pictured: American army vehicles arrive in the port of Vlissingen, The Netherlands, 29 March 2022. As Russia was massing troops on its border with Ukraine, and since Putin’s invasion was launched, NATO has bolstered its troops on its eastern flank
A pilot in an F-16 fighter jet takes part in the NATO international air force exercise Frisian Flag, at Leeuwarden Air Base on March 28, 2022
One request from the embattled president was for NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine to help his air force control the skies. The plea was refused over fears that doing so would result in a third World War.
Putin last month ordered Russia’s nuclear forces to be put on high alert, and threatened NATO allies with ‘consequences greater than any you have faced in history’ should they intervene in the Ukraine conflict.
As Russia was massing troops on its border with Ukraine, and since Putin’s invasion was launched, NATO has bolstered its troops on its eastern flank.
However, it has ruled out any military intervention in Ukraine itself, saying NATO forces would only fight if Russia moved into the alliance’s territory.
NATO was founded in 1949 with 12 founding members, before quickly expanding in the coming years. By the end of the century, it had grown to 19 members.
In 2004, the largest number of new countries was admitted to the alliance with Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia all joining, meaning that NATO had a direct border with Russia for the first time.
Four countries have joined since, with North Macedonia being the last nation to enter the fold in 2020. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine have all formally expressed their aspirations to join.
The prospect of Ukraine and George both joining NATO has in particular infuriated Putin. Russian forces have invaded both countries in the last 15 years.
Putin (pictured Wednesday) has used NATO’s eastward expansion as one of several justifications for his brutal war, and has demanded Ukraine pursues neutrality as a condition to withdraw his troops from his neighbouring country
Since Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24, thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed. Against the expectations of many, Ukraine has mounted a staunch defence and have managed to stop Russia from making significant ground.
Last week, a NATO official said between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in the fighting. Ukraine claims as many as 16,000 have been killed.
During peace talks on Tuesday in Istanbul, the faint outlines of a possible peace agreement seemed to emerge when the Ukrainian delegation offered a framework under which the country would declare itself neutral.
This would see it drop its bid to join Nato, as Moscow has long demanded – in return for security guarantees from a group of other nations.
Top Russian officials responded positively, with foreign minister Sergey Lavrov saying that Ukraine’s willingness to accept neutrality and look outside Nato for security represents ‘significant progress’, according to Russian news agencies.
The talks between Ukraine and Russia will resume on Friday by video, the head of the Ukrainian delegation, David Arakhamia, has said.
But scepticism of statements from Russia about deescalation by Zelensky and others seemed well-founded, as shells continued to fall on Ukraine on Thursday.
Top Russian military officials have said in recent days that their main goal now is the ‘liberation’ of Donbas, the predominantly Russian-speaking industrial heartland where Moscow-backed separatists have been battling Ukrainian forces since 2014. Western officials say Moscow is reinforcing its troops in the Donbas.
Some analysts have suggested that the focus on the Donbas and the pledge to de-escalate may merely be an effort to put a positive spin on reality: Moscow’s ground forces have been thwarted – and have taken heavy losses – in their bid to seize the capital and other cities.
On Thursday, the director of GCHQ launched an unprecedented attack on Vladimir Putin, claiming his bungled ‘personal war’ in Ukraine has backfired badly.
Sir Jeremy Fleming (pictured, file photo) said today the command and control of Russia ‘s campaign was in ‘chaos’ in his first public statements on the invasion
In an excoriating verdict on the ‘failing’ invasion, Sir Jeremy Fleming said the command and control of Russia‘s campaign was in ‘chaos’ in his first public statements on the invasion.
The spy chief revealed new intelligence showing that ill-prepared Russian soldiers are refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft.
He also claimed Putin’s own advisors are lying to him about Russia’s startling losses, speaking to the despot’s isolation and authoritarian approach.
Sir Jeremy said Putin’s ‘misjudgments,’ had forced him to adopt plan B – ‘barbarity against civilians and cities’.
The head of Britain’s eavesdropping intelligence agency also warned China not to be ‘too closely aligned’ with a country that wilfully breaks all the rules and ‘norms for a new global governance’.