Putin ‘loves’ the ‘very silent’ EU says former spy
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Philip Ingram MBE, who worked in British military intelligence for over two decades, said the “silent” European Union – with its lack of a united response to the crisis in Ukraine in the run up to crunch talks with President Putin – has been a blessing to the Russian premier who has strived to cause chaos across the bloc. He also noted how Brussels’ approach allows President Putin to explore options to further spark “friction” in the West.
Explaining the disjointed EU response, Mr Ingram said it appeared as if it is only the UK “actually standing up to Vladimir Putin” after the bloc have given mixed responses to Ukraine, partly due to various differing interests such as Germany’s Nord Stream 2 project it holds with Russia.
Mr Ingram said this is also partly down to the very different approach the UK has shown, this due to Russia aggression through the 2018 Salisbury Novichok attack and with the killing of former Russian security agent Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
But Mr Ingram added: “We have got the EU reflected through its largest budget through Germany, refusing to supply any capability into Ukraine.
“And we have got other major EU countries being very silent across the board.”
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The ex-spy went on to note how President Putin “loves the fact that there is all this differential” adding how the crazed leader “will continue to do everything to keep that rattling” and causing more division.
He speculated: “That is why you will continue to see Russian engagement in the political process to try and de-escalate because that allows him to look for opportunities to further create friction.
“It allows him to engage greater in his information operation and to put messaging out to pretty Russia as trying to be cooperative – but the west as being this big, bad entity.”
He said this has been clear in statements that have come out from every discussion western leaders have had with Putin so far.
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More worryingly, Mr Ingram stressed the EU’s inability to form a cohesive, united front against Putin “allows him to sit back and watch and look for those opportunities to help greater friction” adding how if he can cause as many problems within the bloc before he hits the invasion button, it will be “brilliant” for him.
But he stressed: “If he can’t, will it stop him? I don’t really think so.”
More soaring tensions after the US accused Russia of a “fake” withdrawal of troops from the border with Ukraine, adding to further speculation of what Putin is planning.
This was rumbled after Western intelligence estimated a further 7,000 Russian troops have now joined up with an estimated 200,000 Russian troops now surrounding Ukraine.
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British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has now warned Russian President Putin could extend the crisis for months to come, she is due to visit Kiev this week, after missing Mr Johnson’s trip due to contracting COVID-19.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Ms Truss said: “We must not be lulled into a false sense of security by Russia claiming that some troops are returning to their barracks, while in fact, the Russian military build-up shows no signs of slowing.
“There is currently no evidence the Russians are withdrawing from border regions near Ukraine.
We must have no illusions that Russia could drag this out much longer in a brazen ploy to spend weeks more – if not months – subverting Ukraine and challenging Western unity. This is a test of our mettle.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed the UK was doubling its military presence in Estonia, as well as sending more tanks and armoured vehicles to the Baltic state.
He told Sky News on Wednesday: “What we haven’t seen is evidence of withdrawal that has been claimed by the Kremlin. Until we see a proper de-escalation we should all be cautious about the direction of travel from the Kremlin.”
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