The West needs to realize that Russia's war in eastern Ukraine is more of an existential threat than the Jihadist organization "Islamic State" (ISIS), because it could destroy NATO, magazine Forbes columnist Paul Gregory writes, noting that the Baltic States and especially Latvia could be Russian President Vladimir Putin's next target.
"Are Europe and the United States really hoping that a peace deal entered into by a weakened Ukraine will end Putin's empire-restoration dream? (..) [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel and [U.S. President Barack] Obama regrettably seem to be pushing Ukraine towards an unfavorable peace that gives Putin a permanently destabilized Ukraine blocked from the European Union and NATO. And the only price he has had to pay is sanctions, which he expects to be lifted after a decent time has passed," Gregory says.
Gregory reiterates that noted Russian commentator and Putin critic, Andrei Piontovsky, argues that if Putin succeeds and completely subordinates to himself the policy of Ukraine and blocks its European choice, then he will continue this campaign, and the next target will be the Baltics. NATO membership of the Baltic States will not hold Putin back. Rather, it will spur him on. Putin sees the grand prize in reach: the de facto destruction of his greatest enemy, NATO. The risks of such an adventure would be high, but the rewards would be astronomical.
"Ukraine is fighting on its own with little or no help from its feckless allies. Those who stand next in the line of victims understand the urgency of the situation. Others do not," believes Gregory.
According to Gregory, Putin plans to destroy NATO via the new type of war he perfected in Georgia and Ukraine. It could begin in any of the three Baltic States, but Latvia, with its large proportion of Russian-speakers and non-citizens, is the likely first target.
"ISIS and Putin teach the same lesson. If the West wants to win, it must resist before it is too late. (..) Putin would have been easy to stop if the West had moved in destroyers, carriers, and NATO troops to Poland or Kiev at the first move to annex Crimea. (..) It is already too late to do what we should have done, but consider the scenario that I have described above. Very soon, it could really be too late," warns Gregory.