by Staff Writers
London (AFP) May 18, 2016
The West could find itself at war with Russia by next year unless NATO beefs up its military deterrent, the alliance's former deputy supreme allied commander for Europe warned in a new book unveiled on Wednesday.
"2017 War With Russia" by Richard Shirref, who held the NATO post from 2011 to 2014, is a work of fiction which envisages Russia opening up a land corridor to Crimea and seizing the Baltic states.
The publishers Coronet said that Shirreff, who was a British tank commander in the First Gulf War and served in Iraq, Northern Ireland and the Balkans, had closely modelled his story on NATO "war gaming" scenarios.
"NATO increasingly lacks the knowledge, capability and military hardware necessary to match Russia's ever-improving conventional capability," said the press release from Coronet.
Spooked by Russian action in Ukraine, eastern NATO members including the former Soviet-ruled Baltic states and Poland have lobbied the alliance to increase its presence in the region to guarantee security.
The United States and Russia this month accused each other of mounting an aggressive military presence in northern Europe, with Moscow vowing to "end threats" posed by a US missile shield near its border in Romania and soon in Poland.
Relations between NATO and Moscow have sharply deteriorated since Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in March 2014, sparking fears among other eastern European countries that they too could be targets of Russian aggression.
An endorsement of the book from James Stavridis, NATO's former supreme allied commander for Europe from 2009 to 2013, said Shirreff had been correct about the consequences of Russian action in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
"I fear that he has again correctly called the Russians' next moves in this book," Stavridis said.
In the foreword Stavridis said that Russia was on "a dangerous course that, if it is allowed to continue may lead inexorably to a clash with NATO".
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