August 2016 – UKRAINE – It’s the nightmare scenario Europe and the rest of the west is dreading — an aggressive Moscow unleashes its military might, plunging Europe and the world into chaos. But despite fears a potential war would include nuclear weapons, an Australian expert and former spy thinks there is a far more likely outcome. And it’s almost as terrifying. “The red line in the sand is if NATO makes Ukraine a member,” Professor Paul Dibb, an Australian Russian expert, told news.com.au. “That will be seen as a call for war.”
That’s the moment that would force Russia’s hand and make war almost inevitable. But Prof Dibb doesn’t agree with a former NATO chief’s prediction that meant Russia would use its nuclear arsenal. In May, General Sir Richard Shirreff stoked nuclear fears when he warned Europe would be locked in nuclear war with Russia within a year. An emeritus professor of strategic studies at The Australian National University, Prof Dibb said Russia remains one of the biggest threats to international world order today.
Professor Dibb, who lived a double life as an informer for ASIO against the Soviets from 1965 until 1984, said nuclear war with Russia was not an impossibility. However he maintains the bigger and more likely threat to peace would be the issue of NATO and Ukraine. Such a move would convince Putin that Russia didn’t have to tolerate US and NATO forces right on his doorstep. This in turn could have repercussions for Australia with the US forced to pour more resources into stabilizing Europe and less into maintaining security in the South China Sea. Professor Dibb said this would therefore mean any issues arising in China and across the Pacific would take a back seat.
According to Professor Dibb, Putin regards the disintegration of the Soviet Union as one of the greatest crimes of the 20th Century. “Putin saw it as Russia not ‘only being robbed, but plundered,’ he said. Putin is not only ambitious but patriotic, something he appears to rile up in his fellow countrymen. “Russians do not believe territories like Crimea belong to Ukraine, but rather to them,” he said. Professor Dibb said some Russians didn’t accept the view that Ukraine has a right to exist as a separate country and definitely didn’t belong in NATO. Ukraine applied to join NATO Membership Action Plan in 2008 but the idea was shelved two years later. Professor Dibb admitted Russia’s nuclear capabilities would be a concern for NATO forces.
In his warning, General Shirreff’s said Europe could be locked in nuclear war with Russia “within a year” triggered by a Russian incursion into Baltic States; Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The retired general said he had an “awful vision of the Baltic States being seized” and NATO being unable to respond due to Russia having nuclear weapons. His prediction” is the basis for his book War With Russia, which is a fictional account of how a nuclear war in the continent could unfold. However according to Brisbane-based observer of international relations Nikolay Murashkin such an idea as that raised in the book only serves to “tap into a populist sentiment building on the usual alarmist Cold War narrative.”
The doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge and an associate member of RMIT University’s Centre for Global Research said the narrative is apparently gaining traction as the Western sanctions keep pushing Russia into China’s embrace. However he agreed with author’s sentiment that “we mustn’t allow ourselves to sleepwalk into another conflict. Peace needs to be protected — by all parties involved, not unilaterally — and this can’t be achieved through alarmism and reckless escalation,” he said. –News.au