War ‘likely’ to worsen as Putin accuses West of destroying Russia

Putin gives a New Year's message flanked by soldiers

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Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former British Army colonel and NATO commander, warned that NATO’s involvement in Ukraine might not be “off the table” in 2023. His comments come after Russian leader Vladimir Putin accused the West of attempting to destroy Russia. 

On Wednesday evening, Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon wrote an article for the Telegraph warning that allies of Ukraine cannot “delude ourselves”.

He said: “The war is likely to get worse this year.” 

The Colonel added: “There has only been one Cold War so far in history, one – thank goodness – that never went Hot.

“To some, that means that the fate of our new “Cold War II” will head in a similar direction: sabre-rattling, eruptions of violence, but never into an all-out war between major powers.

“I hope and pray that remains the case, but it is not a certainty – which is why I am alarmed by those who seem to think there is next to zero chance that Nato will intervene in Ukraine in 2023.”

The former British Army Colonel added: “We need to be frank with ourselves: if we are truly committed to our values and moral standpoints, and so is Russia to its imperialist, fascistic worldview, escalation this year is arguably more rather than less likely.

“Putin made it pretty clear in his New Year remarks that he already sees Russia as at war with the West. 

“The devastating attack on Makiivka barracks by Ukrainian HIMARS, perhaps killing hundreds of Russian soldiers, is likely to reinforce this view amongst his henchmen.

“This danger is why it is doubly important to do two things: to seek to end this war as soon as possible by providing the Ukrainians with the weapons they need, and second – as I continue to argue – to make it clear to Russia exactly where our red lines are. Anything less could escalate this war beyond Ukraine and beyond even conventional conflict.”

On New Year’s Day, Ukrainian soldiers targeted Makiivka barracks, a Russian-occupied area of Ukraine, in what has been one of the deadliest attacks on Russia since the war began.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense has said they were attacked with six US-made HIMARS rockets.

Ukraine has said as many as 400 Russian soldiers were killed and another 300 injured, and the Kremlin has claimed at least 89 Russian soldiers died, in what has been the largest number of deaths acknowledged by Moscow so far. 

Footage on social media showed Russians in the area watching Vladimir Putin’s New Year address before running as they heard the missile strikes nearby. 

Putin used his annual New Year’s speech to rally Russian people behind soldiers fighting in Ukraine, as he vowed victory over Ukrainian “neo-Nazis” and claimed the West was intent on “destroying Russia”.

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The warning of escalation comes at a time the Secretary General of NATO has wanted that Ukraine must get long-term support from Western countries.

In an interview with the BBC this week, Jens Stoltenberg said Russia showed no signs of relenting and that support was needed to ensure the survival of Ukraine as a sovereign country. 

He said: “The Ukrainian forces had the momentum for several months, but we also know that Russia has mobilised many more forces, many of them are now training,

“All that indicates that they are prepared to continue the war and also try to potentially launch a new offensive.”

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