(Dallas, Texas) — First, a few thoughts on the situation unfolding in the U.K.
- The poisoning of a Russian father and daughter — opponents of Vladimir Putin — on British soil by a military-grade nerve agent was reprehensible. It must be condemned by every world leader. The number of Putin critics murdered or severely injured in Great Britain is in the double digits and continues to rise. This is absolutely unacceptable and must not go unpunished.
- I applaud British Prime Minister Theresa May for announcing an immediate series of punitive measures against the Russian government, including the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats suspected of being spies, the largest number of such expulsions in thirty years.
- NATO HQ also just issued a statement on these attacks on British soil, which reads in part: “The UK confirmed the use of a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia and briefed Allies that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible. The UK also confirmed that this was an indiscriminate and reckless attack against the United Kingdom, putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk….NATO has repeatedly condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria and called on those responsible to be held to account. NATO regards any use of chemical weapons as a threat to international peace and security.“
- This is a start, but it’s not nearly enough. NATO leaders need to develop and urgently implement a far more comprehensive, robust and unified set of strategies to confront and counter rising Russian military, intelligence and cyber aggression under Putin. This should include but not be limited to tough sanctions on Moscow.
- Most importantly, President Trump needs to speak out forcefully against Putin and take the lead on imposing sanctions on Russia for a growing list of Kremlin aggressions, including efforts to subvert U.S. elections in 2016, invasions of multiple countries, murder of dissidents, etc. Congress overwhelmingly passed a new Russia sanctions law last year. It’s time for the President to put it to use.
Second, allow me to address the growing danger to the Baltic States.
Sixty-one percent of our Americans in our exclusive new survey say they are concerned Vladimir Putin is preparing to invade another country — possibly a small NATO country in Europe, or a Middle Eastern state — given that in recent years he has already invaded the Republic of Georgia, southern Ukraine, eastern Ukraine and sent Russian military forces into Syria.
Are the Baltic States — Estonia, Latvia and/or Lithuania — specifically vulnerable to attack? I believe the answer is yes. I discussed this last week over breakfast with Lithuania’s Ambassador to the U.S..
- Last week, the foreign ministers of all three Baltic nations were in Washington, laying the groundwork for an April 3 summit between US President Donald Trump and the presidents of their countries to discuss the Russian threat.
- Now, an exclusive new survey reveals a majority of Americans are increasingly concerned by the threat Putin poses and worried that President Trump is not doing enough to keep the nation and her allies safe…..
- In my new political thriller, The Kremlin Conspiracy, the fictional president of the Russian Federation is plotting a lightning-fast military attack to re-conquer the three Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – once enslaved by Moscow during the Soviet era. Given that all three countries have been NATO members since 2004, the move risks triggering a nuclear war with the US and NATO alliance.
- The gamble at the heart of the Kremlin leader’s plot is that using upwards of 100,000 Russian troops, Moscow could grab one or more of the Baltic States in less than 96 hours but that in the end neither the US nor the rest of NATO would actually come to their allies’ defense. If that were truly the case – if the West really abandoned the heroic Baltic peoples – this would mean the collapse of the NATO alliance overnight.
- There can be no alliance, after all, if no one is willing to enforce Article Five, the heart of the mutual defense pact which says that if one country is attacked, all other countries in NATO will consider themselves under attack and rush to their defense.
- In the novel, of course, I portray a worst-case scenario. But with each passing day, I’m becoming concerned fiction could become fact.
- Putin, after all, has directly threatened the Baltic States, among other European nations.
- “If I wanted, in two days I could have Russian troops not only in Kiev, but also in Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw and Bucharest,” the Russian leader said to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso in September 2014….
- 51.9% [of Americans surveyed] said they were not convinced that the president fully understands the Putin threat and they want Trump to do “much more” to counter it….
- Three examples come to mind of actions President Trump should be taking but is not:
- Imposing sanctions on Russia – Congress overwhelmingly passed bill last year to impose sanctions on Russian officials, but thus far President Trump still hasn’t taken action. It is time to impose sanctions on Russia for their increasingly aggressive behavior, including unsuccessful efforts to subvert US elections and invasion of multiple countries.
- Increasing troop levels in the Baltic states – At the moment, there are fewer than 5,000 NATO troops in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the three NATO allies that lie right on the Russian border and feeling increasingly at risk of Russian subversion or outright invasion. President Trump could and should be sending more U.S. forces, tanks and other heavy equipment and ammunition to the Baltics to create a speed bump big enough Putin wouldn’t feel tempted to cross. So far, he has not, nor has he pressed other NATO countries to do enough.
- Speaking out against Putin – the president does not hesitate to tweet criticism of everyone from the leaders of North Korea to Alec Baldwin to his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Why then is he so quiet about Putin? I see no convincing evidence at this point that his silence has a criminal or corrupt motive. But it is odd and unsettling to many Americans, given what a grave and growing threat Putin is.
- Given Russia’s history of invasions, aggression and interference, the poll found that 72.5% agreed that Putin and the government of Russia pose a “clear and present danger to the national security of the United States, our NATO allies in Europe and our Mideast allies, such as Israel”….