I wrote a blog following Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and stated that Vladimir Putin would invade the Ukraine and occupy that country too and then, like most other dictators throughout history, he would carry on with his land grab until someone stopped him.
My prediction was true. Putin under the disguise of so-called Pro-Russian separatists invaded eastern Ukraine and it is now looking likely, despite Merkel and Hollande waving their pieces of paper and claiming peace in our time, that Russia will encroach deeper into the Ukraine in the coming weeks.
The dilemma facing NATO is what happens if Russia take similar action in one of the Baltic States? That is not certain, but it is clear that if Putin does take action against a fellow NATO country, we in Britain are treaty bound to take on the Russians in their defence.
All of this posturing and manoeuvring will take place in the background of a British general election campaign, which has just got under-way, and will be concluded on May 7th.
Already we have a variety of former generals, armchair generals and other self-styled experts predicting that defence expenditure will need to rise following the election and that right now, Britain is not strong enough to face down the Russians.
That analysis might well be true, but fortunately, we do not have to face down the Russians on our own. The collective defence nature of NATO means that all NATO countries will share the responsibility of taking on the Russians, if it came to it.
But what if it does come to it? What if Putin gambles that the West is weak, both militarily and in political leadership? And what if that gamble results in an attack on one of the Baltic States?
The British public who are already well aware of Russian bombers flying close to our coast and airspace, Russian warships patrolling near our coast and territorial waters will have to be made equally ready and fully aware over the next few weeks that we may have to honour a treaty commitment and be prepared to go to war with Russia. The public also needs to be aware of all the consequences that could flow from such a decision.
Now if it is explained properly and clearly, I am sure the British people will have confidence in their armed forces, however stretched, to make a positive contribution and to give a good account of themselves by air, sea and land against any Russian aggression. But it could be a bloody one – aren’t they all!
However what the British people will need to have confidence in most of all if such a crisis were to develop is the political leadership coming out of 10 Downing Street.
In reality the general election will give us two possible Prime Ministers, it will either be David Cameron or Ed Miliband. If the crisis in the Ukraine escalates to where I think it will over the coming weeks, the British people will certainly have the question of leadership in a crisis in the back of their minds as they cast their vote. They just might think, the world is a dangerous place and right now is no time for an untested novice.
So by his bellicose actions, Putin just might well hand David Cameron an election advantage that will help him win.