NATO faces ‘catastrophic defeat’ in Ukraine – ex-Pentagon adviser

Strategist Edward Luttwak has argued that members of the US-led bloc will have to deploy troops to prevent a Russian victory

NATO nations can only forestall an inevitable loss to Russian forces in Ukraine by deploying their troops to the former Soviet republic, a former adviser to the US military has claimed.

“The arithmetic of this is inescapable: NATO countries will soon have to send soldiers to Ukraine, or else accept catastrophic defeat,” military strategist Edward Luttwak wrote in an oped published on Thursday by the British online media outlet UnHerd. “The British and French, along with the Nordic countries, are already quietly preparing to send troops – both small elite units and logistics and support personnel – who can remain far from the front.”

The conflict can’t be won without direct troop deployments because regardless of the quantity and quality of weapons sent to Kiev, Ukrainian forces are too outnumbered by the Russians, Luttwak argued. “This means that unless [Russian President Vladimir] Putin decides to end the war, Ukraine’s troops will be pushed back again and again, losing soldiers in the process who cannot be replaced.”

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Luttwak’s comments follow weeks of battlefield advances by Russian forces in the Donbass region. Western leaders have insisted that they can ensure a Ukrainian victory by providing aid to Kiev, but French President Emmanuel Macron suggested in February that direct troop deployments by NATO members could not be ruled out.

European NATO members face a “momentous decision” because with US forces facing a growing threat of a potential Chinese attack on Taiwan, it will be up to them to provide the manpower that Ukraine needs, Luttwak said. “If Europe cannot provide enough troops, Russia will prevail on the battlefield, and even if diplomacy successfully intervenes to avoid a complete debacle, Russian military power will have victoriously returned to central Europe,” he added.

NATO-Russia relations have deteriorated so much amid the Ukraine crisis that the Western alliance is already in “direct confrontation” with Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday. Putin has warned that NATO would risk triggering a nuclear conflict if its members send troops to Ukraine.

READ MORE: ‘Take no NATO prisoners’ – Medvedev

Luttwak suggested that by providing support troops for such tasks as troop training and repairing damaged equipment, NATO nations could free up more Ukrainians to serve on the front lines. “These NATO soldiers might never see combat, but they don’t have to in order to help Ukraine make the most of its own scarce manpower,” he said.

The Romanian-born Luttwak, who was raised and educated largely in the UK, has advised the Pentagon, the US State Department, and the White House National Security Council, among other entities in Washington. A December 2015 profile of Luttwak by The Guardian billed him as “the Machiavelli of Maryland.” Now 81, he has reportedly advised clients ranging from the Dalai Lama to the prime minister of Kazakhstan.

READ MORE: Ukraine ‘will become a member of NATO’ – top US diplomat

Despite being a proponent of Western involvement in the conflict, Luttwak was put on a Ukrainian blacklist in 2022 for opining that Kiev cannot realistically hope to defeat Russia outright and depose Putin.



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