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Robert Gates: West requires strategic thinking and steely resolve

13:57, — in the world

Robert Gates: West requires strategic thinking and steely resolve

A former US Secretary of Defense and Director of Central Intelligence, harshly criticised what he called an anemic response of the West to the Ukrainian crisis.

In his opinion, the Western leaders should demonstrate strategic thinking, bold leadership and steely resolve to react to the aggressive actions by Russian president Vladimir Putin, Voice of America reports.

Robert Gates writes in an article in The Wall Street Journal that the West can counter Putin's aspirations on Russia's periphery by playing a strategic long game.

That means to take actions that unambiguously demonstrate to Russians that his worldview and goalsand his means of achieving themover time will dramatically weaken and isolate Russia, the ex-defense chief writes.

Europe's reliance on Russian oil and gas must be reduced, and truly meaningful economic sanctions must be imposed, knowing there may be costs to the West as well, he continues. NATO allies bordering Russia must be militarily strengthened and reinforced with alliance forces; and the economic and cyber vulnerabilities of the Baltic states to Russian actions must be reduced (especially given the number of Russians and Russian-speakers in Estonia and Latvia).

Gates thinks the West's investments in Russia should be cut. Russia should be expelled from the G8 and other forums that offer respect and legitimacy. Gates also suggests increasing the US defense budget and insists on halting the US military withdrawals from Europe. The EU should be urged to grant associate agreements with Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, he says.

So far, however, the Western response has been anemic, Robert Gates writes. The gap between Western rhetoric and Western actions in response to out-and-out aggression is a yawning chasm. The message seems to be that if Mr. Putin doesn't move troops into eastern Ukraine, the West will impose no further sanctions or costs. De facto, Russia's seizure of Crimea will stand and, except for a handful of Russian officials, business will go on as usual.

No one wants a new Cold War, much less a military confrontation, the former Secretary of Defense writes. Tacit acceptance of settling old revanchist scores by force is a formula for ongoing crises and potential armed conflict, whether in Europe, Asia or elsewhere.

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