Putin is ‘trying to save his dignity here’ as Sweden and Finland announce NATO application

Putin trying to 'save his dignity' amid possible further NATO expansion

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Professor Michael Clarke sat down with journalist Mark Austin to discuss Sweden and Finland joining NATO.

Mr Clarke spoke about how the war in Ukraine had started over accusations that Ukraine was being manipulated by the Western alliance, threatening neighbouring Russia.

The professor then talked about how NATO had been expanding since 1949, as the alliance was about to grow to 32 countries with membership since Sweden and Finland had submitted applications this week.

Mr Clarke said Sweden and Finland’s joining was a failure on Putin’s part, and that the Russian dictator was probably furious about the news.

Professor Clarke told Sky News: “Well I think he’s trying to save his dignity here.

“Because… I mean this whole crisis he said it began because Ukraine was being manipulated by NATO.

“And was constantly threatening Russia by and large expanding.

“Remember to put myself in his position… NATO has enlarged itself since 1949, nine times, nine times it started off with 12 members it’s now got 30, and it’s about to get 32.

“So it’s getting towards three times’ the size that it was when it began.

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Professor Clarke added: “And over those nine enlargements, six of them have taken place whilst President Putin’s been in power.

“So he’s sat in the Kremlin and he’s seen NATO’s borders come a thousand miles nearer to Moscow, and he thinks in very territorial terms.

“He’s not a very subtle man, he’s not a subtle thinker, that’s what he sees.

“And so I think he’s furious about this idea that Finland and Sweden should join NATO, it’s a massive political failure on his part, strategic failure.

“Massive strategic failure and I think he’s trying to rescue a bit of his dignity by saying it’s no big deal.”

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Mr Fallon explained that President Putin couldn’t keep threatening both countries anymore.

Mr Fallon said: “Finland and Sweden already know that Russia cannot stop them joining, nor need they fear any reprisal.

“If Russia’s quarter of a million strong army couldn’t capture Kyiv, it’s hardly likely to be able to take Helsinki.

“Russia now faces a long attritional war in the Donbas and will find it difficult, with a cratered economy and under Western sanctions, to refit its forces properly.

“So neither Finland nor Sweden should be seen as weak supplicants desperate for shelter under the NATO umbrella.”

Ms Wolford said: “We may see some military escalation between the parties, but will probably see more airspace violations as Russian aircraft spread out across the region.

“Russia has already on several occasions breached airspace in the area, and this could escalate in frequency as Russian aircraft manoeuvre in response.”

She added: “I think Russia will also increase their naval capacity in the Baltic Sea, posturing assets in the area, and increasing the presence of amphibious assault ships in the region.”

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