**West and Russia are on course for war, says ex-Nato deputy commander
A startling claim that the west is on course for war with Russia has been delivered by the former deputy commander of Nato, the former British general Sir Alexander Richard Shirreff.
In a book published on Wednesday, 2017 War With Russia, Shirreff argues that the events in Crimea have destroyed the post-cold-war settlement and set the stage for conflict, in events that could begin to unfold next year.**
In a chilling scenario, he predicts that Russia, in order to escape what it believes to be encirclement by Nato, will seize territory in eastern Ukraine, open up a land corridor to Crimea and invade the Baltic states.
Shirreff, who was deputy supreme allied commander Europe from 2011 to 2014, is risking his reputation by making such a bold prediction. But he claims his narrative is closely modelled on his Nato experience of war-gaming future conflicts.
He says the events he predicts will begin to unfold next year unless steps are taken to avoid them.
He insists that retention of a nuclear deterrent is essential. “Be under no illusion whatsoever – Russian use of nuclear weapons is hardwired into Moscow’s military strategy,” he writes.
He describes Russia as now the west’s most dangerous adversary and says President Vladimir Putin’s course can only be stopped if the west wakes up to the real possibility of war and takes urgent action.
He also rounds on the UK for what he says is the emasculation of its conventional military capability on the assumption that the international scene will remain benign. He says Nato increasingly lacks the knowledge, capability and military hardware to match what he describes as Russia’s ever-improving conventional capability.