James Forsyth

How worried should the West be about Russia?

How worried should the West be about Russia?
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The most sobering column you’ll read today is the FT’s Gideon Rachman, no doom monger, warning about the risk of a nuclear war. Rachman is concerned about how quick Vladimir Putin’s Russia now is to rattle the nuclear sabre.

Now, as Rachman points out, part of the reason that Russia does this is to make the West think that it might just use these weapons. But the worry is that Putin might miscalculate. For instance, if the Russians did in one of the Nato member Baltic states what it has done in Ukraine, the situation could get out of hand very quickly.

What makes this more alarming is the possibility of another global economic crisis. Putin’s mind-set is that the West’s danger is Russia’s opportunity and it is easy to envisage him trying to take advantage of Nato being distracted by economic turmoil. Equally, if the Russian economy moved from stagnation to depression, it is possible that Putin might try and use adventurism in Russia’s near abroad to distract from the country’s financial problems.