Putin’s efforts to halt NATO expansion have been “a disaster” as his actions have added a “massive chunk of real estate and two very capable armed forces” to the alliance says Sir James Everard.

Sir James Everard KCB CBE, former NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, was giving evidence to the Defence Commitee when he was asked the following by Sarah Atherton, MP for Wrexham.

“On NATO expansion, specifically Finland and Sweden, ratification is going to take between six and 13 months. We have to expect that Putin will try to hinder that process. Finland, in its own right, has its own F-35 programme and Sweden is described as a net contributor, but Finland doubles the length of NATO’s border with Russia. What are the implications of Sweden and Finland being members of NATO?”

Sir James Everard responded:

“For President Putin, it is a disaster. His whole purpose has been to halt NATO expansion and in a fell swoop he has doubled it with a massive chunk of real estate and two very capable armed forces.

I was in Sweden yesterday. They are now hugely pro the idea of joining NATO. Of course, they are enhanced opportunity partners. There are modalities for strength and interaction—that is the term, MSIs—that would underpin our relationship in crisis and conflict. It is not unusual to find a Swede or a Finn in a NATO headquarters. We exercise with them regularly. They were the biggest contributors to Trident Juncture.

We are pretty close already. In terms of defence co-operation, I know they are non-aligned, but they have an absolute network. I cannot list them all. They are part of the JEF; they are part of this; they are part of that. They are definitely going to bring added value to the alliance. I do not see them necessarily wanting anybody to turn up. They might look for someone to command them better, but we will see.

We have a lot to learn from them. There is a lot of attraction in their total defence concept. They are teaching children in primary school about the effects of disinformation and how to spot it. You cannot win a war today unless you take a whole-of-society approach. That is something that in the UK, probably because of the channel, we have never been very comfortable doing.”

Atherton then asked:

“In your wisdom and given your years of experience, what do you think Putin’s response will be?”

Sir James Everard replied:

“Putin often tells you what his response will be. He has said, “You should not do it.” Then we had the “energy off, energy on” thing. Now he has said, “Okay, fine, you can do it, but I do not want to see any NATO forces being positioned on your territory.” That will be up to Sweden, Finland and NATO commanders to decide.

The whole Russian campaign, from a professional point of view, has been abject. It is abject for a number of reasons, but primarily because it was not planned by the Russian general staff. The people who should have planned this operation did not plan it. As you see them getting a grip of what is going on, we should not be surprised if they start to make pretty significant gains pretty quickly. You can all track the battle. It is a concern.

Putin did not make a big speech the other day at his parade, because his generals are telling him that he is still going to win.”

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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maurice10
maurice10
4 days ago

An urgent government mandate is needed to address the UK Army’s lack of modern frontline heavy armour. Waiting for Ajax may not be an option and a replacement is needed without delay. A stronger NATO must also include a truly modern UK land force capable of keeping pace with other alliance members.

Sean
Sean
4 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

Even if the government chose something completely off the shelf it would still be years away before delivery yet alone operational capability. If in the unlikely event Putin went completely insane and attacked NATO we’d probably have to leave IFVs as a capability provided by our partners. Be then we bring lots of other things to the party that they are week on – it’s good to have friends.

eclipse
eclipse
4 days ago
Reply to  Sean

The problem isn’t having friends; it’s that we keep decreasing what we are able to bring to the party. The less we bring, the less influence we have, and the more danger our troops face. We bring typhoons that number in the low 100s and hence less than France or Germany, F-35s unarmed for air to ground warfare, ships incapable of eliminating other ships, 5 submarines also unarmed with anti-ship missiles, a meagre number of tanks that as of now inferior to the Abrams or Leopard that constitue what is one of the weakest tank forces in Europe, less artillery… Read more »

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
4 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

So much of that statement is incredibly short sighted and false, and fails to take into account so much detail about our own capability, and that of the nations you mention. I could explain at length, but I can’t be bothered, it’s Sunday evening, I’ve a10 year old to get to bed, and work loomes ever closer tomorrow morning. Maybe another day.

Deep32
Deep32
4 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Yes know what you mean. Opened a second bottle of 🍷instead.

eclipse
eclipse
4 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Robert, it wasn’t a detailed analysis of our strengths, though I believe that none of what I said is false. I simply listed part of a long list of gaps in our capability, and that most countries who have a greater threat near their own borders achieve more, in some areas, with far far less. As I said, of course there are strengths to offset these gaps; I am aware that I only stated negatives. If you have ever read any of my other comments, I usually have a positive outlook on our armed forces and completely appreciate their might.… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

I though I would do it for you….. as I could not let that one stand.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
3 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Very well put mate, and thank-you 👍 We also have way more ISTAR capability, and heavy lift both rotary and fixed wing then our EU partners. And our ability to deploy our Force’s globally is another capability that set’s us apart. And capability is everything. Our Typhoons for example will be way more capable than the German and Italian examples. They are not getting radar 2 with electronic attack modes for example. And Apache numbers may be reducing, but we are buying the most capable and deadly version. And Navy’s across the globe would kill for a few Astute boats,… Read more »

Sean
Sean
4 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

And yet we are reckoned along with France to be amongst the two most powerful militaries in Europe – and that is discounting our nuclear weapons. Look at any military and you’ll find faults – the Germans recently had no submarines functional, their army has trained with brooms instead of rifles, their new frigates that have barely more armament that the Rivers (not to mention the permanent list to starboard), their Tornadoes can’t fly at night due to incompatibility between night vision optics and the cockpits, etc, etc, etc. So pick just about any aspect of our military forces and… Read more »

eclipse
eclipse
4 days ago
Reply to  Sean

I’m sorry, but I don’t see the need for the condescending attitude. Yes, the U.K. and France are the two most powerful militaries in Europe. I did not say we were weak nor did I talk of our strengths, nor of other countries potentials. All I listed, and I made that clear, was a worryingly increasing list of gaps that we have found to be acceptable in our armed forces. What is worrying isn’t the gaps, it is the complacency of the government to these gaps in a world that is quickly heating up geopolitically. Let’s see Germany. Did I… Read more »

FOSTERSMAN
FOSTERSMAN
4 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

The problem we have in the RN Is they went after gold plated assets, instead of a higher mix of high-low quality. Compare us to Europe is apples and oranges, are there any better than astutes, type 45, QE’S and soon type 26? I don’t think so. The issues that remains as you have stated is the lack of first rate equipment for these vessels. But unfortunately the MOD blew there budgets on the vessels that when cost over a £billion+ each leaves little for weapons systems. Hopefully the type 31/32 fixes the issue and actually gets some decent missile… Read more »

eclipse
eclipse
4 days ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

Completely agree with you; the capability gaps are a result of not properly distributing the budget. The Americans can afford large numbers of any equipment; yet even they choose upgraded F-15s to an all F-35/stealth fighter fleet. I think drones are a very good opportunity for us, since they are in many cases cheaper, more expendable, and also solve to an extent recruitment issues. Another reason why we would struggle building more ships is that we would struggle to crew them; UUVs, UAVs, and USVs are certainly an opportunity right now. UGVs capable of combat will probably come about five… Read more »

Steve R
Steve R
15 minutes ago
Reply to  eclipse

Those upgraded F-15s still come in around $100 million per airframe, mind. They’re not significantly cheaper than the F-35s – at least in the initial purchase. Operating costs may be cheaper, IDK.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

You have certainly not embarrassed yourself. I concur with every word. We should raise concerns about shortfalls and capability gaps, whilst acknowledging that we have strengths as well as weaknesses. As Global Britain with a need to have full spectrum capability, and with a world-leading defence budget – we should have few weaknesses, but instead we have so many.

Nick Cole
Nick Cole
2 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

Your concerns, so well put are realistic.

Jonno
Jonno
2 days ago
Reply to  Nick Cole

I’ll second that. There is a need to recognise our shortcomings and put them right PDQ. I find it worrying that Government aren’t saying and meaning that we need to increase our defence budget to 3.5% or more. To me eclipse you are right to speak out.

Steve R
Steve R
16 minutes ago
Reply to  eclipse

30 miles is plenty for a submarine to kill another ship with. Why bother giving the Astutes anti-ship missiles? I’d rather them go out with a full load of 30+ Spearfish that will cause untold more damage to an enemy fleet/ships than anti-ship missiles. What we need to do is arm our F-35s with anti-ship missiles as a primary launch platform for anti-ship missiles, with a few loaded onto frigates and destroyers as a secondary capability. That way we’re covered above and below the waves. Seems pointless to me in duplicating AshMs onto Astutes when it should be our aircraft… Read more »

Dern
Dern
4 days ago
Reply to  Sean

I’m not sure you can call 1×4.5in gun, 2x27mm, 2x RAM Launcher and 8xAShM “barely” more than the 30/20mm on a River…. A few things I wouldn’t crow about either: The Challenger 2 that took those RPG’s did so because it was bogged in and the SCOTS DG couldn’t recover it. But even more: both the Abrams and the Leopard have gotten serious upgrade programs in the last 20 years. Challenger hasn’t. And while Astute uses Spearfish yes, it’s worth noting that Virgina’s are equipped with Tropedo’s and Harpoon AShM, and the German U212’s are having a tube launched AShM… Read more »

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
3 days ago
Reply to  Dern

I can guarantee Virginia class do not carry harpoon missiles. They may the ability to fire them but the submariners I’ve spoken to say it’s never carried and hasn’t been since the 1990’s. A torpedo is better. For the anti ship missile you give away you position when it’s fired. Much more of a give away than a torpedo. Also targeting the harpoon from a sub is a pain without having targeting from another asset so I’ve been told. If a target is not fixed trying to hit it 50 miles away is difficult. For example go to tower bridge… Read more »

Dern
Dern
3 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

You’re information is out of date. Harpoon has been reintroduced in the last 2 years on USN SSN’s.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
3 days ago
Reply to  Dern

I will look into this. Thanks
Everydays a school day.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

Eclipse, such a good but alarming summary of our Defence problems. Should be required reading for all politicians in Government and those citizens who believe in the importance of Defence. I served in the army 1975-2009 and saw cutbacks, drawdowns and redundancy rounds and not enough equipment upgrades or replacements (certainly in the army anyway). We can no longer field 221 tanks as we did in Gulf War 1, or deliver a brigade group on an enduring operation such as HERRICK (Afghanistan). As global Britain we should have the second most powerful armed forces in NATO in every domain –… Read more »

Matt
Matt
3 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

A glass half-empty day? 😎

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

You’ve made a lot of incorrect or misleading statements in that, so I will answer a few with a fact check. 1)we bring less typhoons that Germany…..false we have 7 front line typhoon squadrons vs 6 front line German typhoon numbers ( there is more to deploying than airframe numbers, it’s about squadrons and numbers of aircrews and groundcrews). 2)F35 has no air to ground weapons…it has Paveway IV which is a very good precision, multi effect multi guidance weapon. 3)ships with no capability to engage…harpoon is still operational, CAMM is also a highly effective Mach 3-4 NATO surface target… Read more »

Steve R
Steve R
58 minutes ago
Reply to  eclipse

Why do the Astutes need anti-ship missiles? They have torpedoes for that.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 days ago
Reply to  Sean

Sean,
If the balloon went up and armour was required, we would deploy Warrior IFVs – we have no choice – and all the other old kit too – CR2, CVR(T), AS90….and hope for the best.
At least WR has a 30mm cannon – would all the Boxers we are waiting for have a cannon?

Sean
Sean
4 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

All that ‘old kit’ is still way more advanced than the the stuff Russia is having to field against the Ukraine. And if it did go up then Boxers aren’t relevant anyway as they’re not built 🤷🏻‍♂️

eclipse
eclipse
4 days ago
Reply to  Sean

If war were to break out the Boxers would be very relevant; saying otherwise is like Spitfires would not be relevant in World War II since not that many were built prior to the war.

Sean
Sean
4 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

Completely ridiculous analogy. • if war breaks out between Russia and NATO it’s not going to last 6 months let alone 6 years like WW2 • The first Boxers won’t enter service until 2023, you can’t fight with something that doesn’t exist, so not relevant. • Production of Spitfires began mid 1938. • Those Spitfires produced pre1941 were far more valuable than the many more produced from 1941 onwards (cf Battle of Britain). • Spitfires we’re immensely simpler machines to produce than Boxers. Spitfires didn’t rely on parts from a global supply chain that is still recovering from a global… Read more »

BobA
BobA
4 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Ah Graham, hate to burst the bubble, but I’m not sure we have enough 30mm ammunition to field enough WR. Even in 2015 we knew there would be a 2 year gap in capability(around 2021 and 2025 ish) between WR and WR2 because of a lack of 30mm in the system and not enough WR2 in it.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 days ago
Reply to  BobA

That’s a surprise to me. I would have thought RARDEN 30mm ammo would be a NATO standard and we could get that from almost anywhere.
Shortsighted to close down the ROFs that used to make the stuff at excellent quality and at reasonable (but not the cheapest) price.

Simon
Simon
2 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

RadwayGreen is still open

BobA
BobA
2 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I think it was more an issue of funding lines to be honest. Ie ‘you can have a funding line for IFV main armament ammunition – that can be either 30mm RARDEN or 40mm CTA. But you can’t have both’

So the choice was to build up 40mm for WR2 (which is considerably more expensive) but that left a gap in capability. Or at least looked like an Armoured Div with only one Armoured Bde plus a Light Mech Bde plus 16AA.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 days ago
Reply to  BobA

Thanks Bob. I hear that the 40mm CTA round is 5 times the cost of the 30mm!

AlexS
AlexS
2 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Rarden had a very powerful 30x170mm round. It was not “NATO” standard and it is relatively rare.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/30_mm_caliber

AlexS
AlexS
2 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

The NATO 30mm round is 30x173mm

FOSTERSMAN
FOSTERSMAN
4 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

CV90 and it’s made by a British company. In the meantime is just double down on boxer varients and hope we don’t get dragged in an armoured confrontation. While the government is at it they need to appoint a independent ombudsman on the entire land vehicle procurement process down the years. Industry, successive governments, MOD and the army are all at fault for this mess, hopefully to stop this from happening again

eclipse
eclipse
4 days ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

The most worrying thing is not the mess we are in; that can be fixed shortly with resources that a wealthy country like the U.K. has. What is concerning is the attitude towards defence; I truly fear our politicians will remain complacent and ignorant until the last moment when it will be too late.

maurice10
maurice10
4 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

I feel there may be more bubbling behind the scenes regarding the Army’s current armoured vehicle woes, both in government and the land forces leadership? I hope so, as keeping the Ajax debacle out of the media limelight appears to be a lost cause?

maurice10
maurice10
4 days ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

Maybe there should be a short-term strategy that retains what we have (Warrior, Bulldog, Mastiff) but cancels Warrior retirement and carry out a Bulldog level upgrade in armour protection and possible electronic counter measures? A fast (truck-mounted) mobile heavy howitzer should be given high priority regarding artillery. Slow heavy tracked systems may be obsolete due to drone swamp recon? As witnessed in Ukraine, artillery is vital but needs, ‘to shoot and run.’

Dern
Dern
4 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

Honestly Bulldog upgrades for armour are a bit of a waste of time IMO. They’re not frontline vehicles, they only fill support roles. Plus they where already struggling with the in theatre armour kits that where issued for Iraq.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 days ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

I trust you mean the recce variant of CV90 when talking about alternatives to the disastrous Ajax!

You can’t have much confidence in Boxer if you hope we don’t get dragged into an armoured confrontation! In its Warrior replacement role it will be worse than useless if each one does not have a stabilised cannon.
You are right to blame multiple players for the AFV mess – many just seem to blame army officers in DE&S.

Ian
Ian
4 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

Germany is ordering another 7 P8’s…. So should we……
Thanks Ian

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
4 days ago
Reply to  Ian

Yes, I was thinking that too. Could be very useful and quick to bring into service compared to some other things. On a
separate note I felt so bloody British the other day watching flypast for the Queen. How bloody good was that!! Even seeing the old Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancaster’s. May we forever remain a force for good in the world!
🇬🇧 🇦🇺 🇳🇿

Simon
Simon
4 days ago
Reply to  Ian

Should give them a total fleet of 12

John Clark
John Clark
4 days ago
Reply to  Ian

Certainly another 3 would be sensible for the RAF, plus a dedicated number of Protectors to back them up.

We can expect the Russians to really get up to their old tricks, they will absolutely double down on the Baltic, as it will be mainly NATO shore line and Ivan’s blood will be boiling!

The Germans will need to man up in the Baltic, no question!

Dern
Dern
4 days ago
Reply to  Ian

Germany just voted a 100 billion euro upgrade fund for the Bundeswehr. So should we.

Matt
Matt
3 days ago
Reply to  Dern

TBF on that one, it might not all arrive.

DE has a very detailed line by line Parliamentary process, down to (iirc) approval required for any item over 25m Euro.

At the recent election they also fudged whether the 100bn was separate to, or included in, the funds to upgrade the def budget to 2% of GDP in future.

Dern
Dern
3 days ago
Reply to  Matt

I know, but the Bundestag voted on the fund this week, and passed it, so the money is coming. The Bundestag will have the opportunity to vote on military projects yes, but the budget uplift is happening, so it’s more a question of “what will it be spent on” not “will it be spent.”
(And even if the 100bn includes current defence budget, then it’s a bit like “Oh no, the defence budget is being doubled, not tripled.” Meanwhile, the HMT hasn’t released a single penny to the MoD)

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
4 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

I think the virtual destruction of Russia’s armour force; a capability it will take them over a decade to rebuild, reduces rather then enhances the UK requirement. There is no plausible scenario where the UK would be sending armour against China, so who else would the armour be required against? It relieves the pressure and allows Britain to focus on other requirements and come back to armour procurement when the next generation is ready to be rolled out. If I was the MOD I would be jettisoning Ajax and trying to get our money back, focusing on Brimstone Tank Destroyers… Read more »

Simon
Simon
4 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Agree watchzero, Russia a threat at the moment but it has used much of its old stock of military equipment. hard to replace for Russia Inthe future.

Putin lacking conventional might uses wheat supplies, gas energy and population displacement as ways to disrupt the world.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Our armour has been employed very fully in the last 30 years – and has actually been deployed to shooting wars, unlike certain key platforms in the RN and RAF – yet you suggest delaying improving our armoured capability. I too doubt we (NATO) will take on China in armoured warfare. MoD will not get back £3.2bn from GDUK, as they have done much work that ws signed off by DE&S, but may get something back. I am for TDs – and bemoan that STRIKER (which could kill 10 MBTs at 4k range before resupply was needed) was never replaced.… Read more »

Simon
Simon
3 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Is the Spartan MCT still in service?

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 days ago
Reply to  Simon

Simon, short answer is ‘No’. MCT-Milan Compact Turret – for the benefit of others. I had forgotten about this. We once had two Tank Destroyer (TDs) types in service – both based on CVR(T): Striker which had 10 Swingfire (5 on roof and 5 reloads inside) and MCT on Spartan which had 13 Milan (2 on roof and 11 reloads inside). Spartan MCT was fielded in the early 80s but was phased out on demise of Milan (replaced by Javelin from mid-2005). There would be no reason to have kept any in the Ashchurch depot. Now we have….no TDs! Who… Read more »

Simon
Simon
2 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Sadly, I expect they were an easy cut. If you need to save money cutting something that is sort of in the background

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 days ago
Reply to  Simon

A pity that those two TDs were not replaced by tracked vehicles mounting modern MR and LR ATGW.

maurice10
maurice10
4 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

The assumption Russia’s military capability is, ‘back in its box’ would be a dangerous observation. We can not ignore the Bear’s ability to find resources if it is deemed necessary. Putin will not leave Ukraine in a tidy manner but with a determination to stamp a catastrophic legacy on that country. The UK’s current land force fleet is old and behind the technological curve and this places our troops in greater danger, a situation that is simply unacceptable. My suggestion that The Government needs an emergency debate on the Army’s modernisation is the only way to get real focus on… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Also the very nature of any armoured conflict means we are not doing it alone ( there is no singular British interest that would involve large scale armoured conflict). So our armoured forces are alway going to be a contribution to something larger. Unlike our lighter units, navy and airforce which may all need to act alone to protect a British interest.

Steve R
Steve R
2 minutes ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I agree but it would be nice to be able to provide more than a token contribution.

During the 2003 invasion of Iraq our forces were around 1/4 of the total invasion force. Now we’d be more like 5-10%.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

I totally agree Maurice. I think the last heavy/medium armour to be delivered were the 33 Trojan and 33 Titan engineer tanks in 2002-3. There has not been a significant upgrade to heavy/medium armour, except if you count TI for Warrior (BGTI) or replacement of Clansman by Bowman radio. Challenger, Warrior and AS90 were fielded in the 80s/90s. Light armour (CVR(T)) is 50 years old. All this is a total disgrace. Ajax is a disgrace – the wrong vehicle built by the wrong company, unfit for service and already over 5 years late, thus the entire CVR(T) fleet must stagger… Read more »

maurice10
maurice10
4 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Putin is off the leash and committing incalculable damage on Ukraine at a time when, as you so clearly state Graham, the UK’s armour is in crisis. What is desperately required is a master plan to quickly resolve these issues in full view of public scrutiny, and not in the hidden corridors of Whitehall. Hence my suggestion parliament needs a direct role in forming an action plan. Many constituencies rely on the military for employment and prosperity and clarity is one way to get the ball rolling.

Dern
Dern
4 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

Waiting for Ajax won’t solve that problem. It’s not a frontline heavy armour system, it’s a armoured recce vehicle, at best a light or medium tank.

A Moore
A Moore
4 days ago

What a nitwit!

Andy P
Andy P
4 days ago

Nothing particularly startling in that ‘expert’ assessment, I would guess that most of the posters on here could have come out with something similar (if less wordy) if asked.

I just hope that UK PLC hoist the message in and start treating defence a bit more seriously.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 days ago

Sir James Everard says that the Russian invasion ‘was not planned by the Russian general staff’. Is he saying that Putin personally planned it?

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
4 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Not planned in that the invasion was put together and initiated with an Op Order written with a 2 Inch paint brush on a postage stamp.

Donald Allan MacColl
Donald Allan MacColl
3 days ago

does Ukraine have any warships left? or did it not have any anyway?

Nick Cole
Nick Cole
2 days ago

The difficulty we have in NATO and the rest of the world is we do not know what Putin regards as a ‘win’. He tried for the top, but failed and now his only real hope is to complete the annexation of the eastern areas. As far as his public statements are concerned he can present that as what he wanted all along and it was just a little bit longer and more difficult than it could have been, because of our ‘interference’. Whether or not his public understand the implications of an expanded NATO is unknown.