February 23, 2015
Prime Minister David Cameron should contemplate sending arms to Ukraine as a show of NATO strength against Russia and keep his promise to restore defense-spending levels, a former Chief of Defence Staff has warned. Air Chief Marshal Lord Stirrup echoed sentiments of other senior politicians and officials, who claim if defense spending is cut the West will look increasingly weak. After Russian bombers were detected over international waters near Britain’s south coast last week, Stirrup said Russia was “testing” Britain and its NATO allies. “NATO over the years, in the eyes of Putin at least, has become weak. Putin views the West as weak all round and that is a very, very dangerous position for us to be in,” he told Sky News’s Murnaghan program.
“My concern is that NATO is not spending enough resource on defense. If NATO is weak or is perceived to be weak by Putin then the risk of miscalculation is much greater and our security is much lowered as a result.” He added that the “swingeing cuts” to defense spending had left the armed forces “right on the limit.” “The 2010 defense review was predicated on defense expenditure increasing in real terms every year after 2015. The prime minister acknowledged that when he announced the outcome of the review in the House of Commons,” he said. “We now have to make sure that those undertakings are kept. It was important in 2010. It is much more important now.” Stirrup claimed the flights by Russian planes off the coast of Cornwall were intended to scout UK defenses, calling their behavior “very dangerous.”