"We told you 15 years ago, Putin is coming, then 10 and 5 years ago. Trust us now"

Ivo Daalder, former US ambassador to NATO, expressed concern for the future of Europe in an article for Politico before the US elections, in which Trump can win

Izvor: Blic, Politico

Tuesday, 27.02.2024.

11:00

Tanjug/Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kemlin Pool Photo via AP, File

"We told you 15 years ago, Putin is coming, then 10 and 5 years ago. Trust us now"

He clarified that the recently held Munich Security Conference was marked by the Ukrainian withdrawal from Avdiivka and the sudden death of Alexei Navalny.

"Taking place so quickly, both of these events created a sobering mood at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof. And sitting in meetings, talking over meals and in hallways, my overwhelming feeling was that Europe was facing its worst fears," Daalder wrote.

According to him, there is a growing concern that Russia is winning in Ukraine and could then turn to the rest of Europe, and there is a growing realization that the US could elect a leader who does not believe in NATO and treats allies more like enemies.

"Europe has found itself between Putin and Trump," said former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt in a conversation with Daalder. Europe now needs to figure out a way to take care of itself. But can it? Will it? These were the questions that dominated the weekend.

"Europe has the right to be worried: the war in Ukraine is not going well, and the troops at the front are running out of ammunition and men." Explaining the decision to withdraw from Adviivka, General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi said: 'In a situation where the enemy is advancing over the body of his soldiers with a 10 to 1 shell advantage, under constant bombardment, this is the only correct solution'. And without more military aid, Ukraine will face difficult decisions and a costly retreat. In this regard, Europe did its part, sending all the equipment in its limited stock and spending more on military support than the US. But this weekend, neither US Vice President Kamala Harris nor a large congressional delegation could convince Ukraine or its European supporters that a new US aid package could soon be approved," said Daalder.

He continued to criticize the US Congress for not passing a law on a new round of aid for Ukraine, adding that no one believed their excuses.

By the way, Daalder says, at over 4 percent, Estonia's aid to Ukraine represents by far the largest percentage of any country's GDP — and ten times the U.S. commitment.

However, as troubling as Russia's success on the ground is, NATO allies are also increasingly concerned that Moscow has bigger ambitions, such as eventually challenging NATO directly. And although not immediate, the threat of Russia's potential ability to do so in the next 5-6 years is taken very seriously.

"One person sounding the alarm is the Director General of Estonia's Foreign Intelligence Service, Kaupo Rosin, who has warned that Russia expects a conflict with NATO in the next decade and is preparing accordingly. 'There are things we can do to counter this,' he told me. But we better take this seriously and start reacting now. I heard a similar message from Polish Foreign Minister Rados³aw Sikorski: 'We told you 15 years ago that Putin was coming. You didn't believe us. We told you again 10 years ago. And five. You still didn't believe us. Trust us now,' he said," Daalder writes.

But the biggest uncertainty for most Europeans does not involve Putin, but America.

The failure of the US Congress to support Ukraine has left many speechless. And Trump's warning that he will "encourage" Russia "to do whatever it wants" to an ally that has not "paid" is still echoing loudly.

Protecting NATO and European defense from Trump, as they say now, will not be easy. But many now realize that it must be done. Even if Biden is re-elected, Europeans are increasingly aware that the era of strong transatlantic presidents may be coming to an end.

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