The founder of the Brussels-based Centre for Russia, Europe and Asia Studies (CREAS) Theresa Fallon has stated we are amidst a change of paradigm in international relations. An expert on cybersecurity, trade and energy, Ms Fallon argued that Putin aims to completely dominate Ukraine, and predicted the war-stricken country would give into any peace agreement to hold back any further suffering.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper 20 Minutos, Ms Fallon said she was “really worried” about a potential “spillover effect” of the conflict that could lead the world into all-out conflict.
She said: “This is a very, very dangerous moment.
“You have a lot of troops, areas of confusion, and you go to the edge. I worry that, for example, a not-so-smart bomb might fall a few kilometres further west, on a truck inside the borders of Poland.
“Then Article 5 would apply and World War III would be triggered. And it all depends on how smart a bomb is.
“That’s already NATO against Russia, and nobody wants to cross that red line.”
Asked if she thought Putin could pull the trigger on Russia’s nuclear power – for which it is the largest in the world – Ms Fallon added: “Russia has shown signs of that, with the announcement that it was conducting nuclear exercises.
“If that is not a clear threat, it is at least a reminder of what it is capable of.
“Moreover, I have read Russian analysts saying there are smaller tactical nuclear weapons and that if Putin is too much on the ropes he could explode them in the Baltic Sea.
“To me that is frightening. Look at what happened at Chernobyl, how the incidence of cancer in Europe grew, can you imagine what a nuclear explosion in the Baltic would mean?
“It’s really frightening.”
Ms Fallon also defined how the battle lines would be drawn in a world war scenario.
She argued it would not be a case of East versus West – but instead, a battle of ideology.
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The expert said: “The conflict is clear. It is autocracy (China and Russia) versus democracy. This is the reality, but China does not want to be boxed in. And the rest of us have to decide whether we want to defend life in a world with enforced rules.”
Ms Fallon went on to criticise the EU prior to the invasion which, she argues, may even have emboldened Putin to proceed with his war.
She said: “I would have liked to see the announcement of sanctions before the invasion. Putin would have recalculated his options.
“My impression is that from the bilateral meetings with Macron, Scholz, Orban… Putin got the impression of a weak and divided EU.
“He thought the sanctions would resemble those of 2014, when Crimea, and thought he could take them.
“I don’t think he expected this growing tsunami of sanctions. It would have been better if Europe had shown this unanimity on tough sanctions before the invasion.”
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Mr Macron was humiliated when Putin recognised the Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk regions as independent states and moved troops into Ukraine just the day after a phone call with the French President in which he promised to pursue a diplomatic resolution.
Ms Fallon added the Ukrainians “will put up a fight and will not give up easily.
She said: “Putin may occupy the territory, but the citizens will defend their country.
“Ukraine is tired of being the place everyone dances on. The Nazis, the Soviets… these people have been brought up in such a way that they conceive that the most important thing is to defend their country.
“And we are already seeing Ukrainians from the diaspora returning to fight, which is admirable, knowing how difficult the circumstances are and how little chance they have against the Russian giant.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.