11:52 May. 23, 2016
Former official calls in to use NATO's assets 'wisely, and deploying those assets to deter in the Baltic states'
Aformer NATO deputy supreme commander is warning that the alliance could find itself in a full-fledged armed conflict with Russia within a year if it does not strongly step up its presence in the Baltic states.
Retired British General Richard Shirreff set out the stark scenario in a book published this week, 2017 War With Russia, which has raised eyebrows with its suggestion that what some are calling a "new Cold War" could turn hot in a hurry.
In an interview with RFE/RL, Shirreff stressed that the book - which describes Russian forces invading Latvia next May and piling into Ukraine in a bid to open a land corridor to illegally annexed Crimea - is a "work of fiction. "
But he says he wants to send a "very strong signal" that NATO must act to ensure it stays that way.
"The point of the book is...to highlight the importance of strong, effective deterrence to prevent such an eventuality happening," says Shirreff, who was deputy supreme allied commander Europe from 2011 to 2014. Before that he served in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, and Iraq, where he was a British tank commander in the First Gulf War.
The retired general says he is concerned that "Russian adventurism" could lead to an attack on Latvia, Lithuania, or Estonia, which were under Moscow's thumb for decades after World War II and joined NATO in the years after the 1991 Soviet collapse.