-Interview- Joost Niemoller: 'We may be sleepwalking into World War III'

-Interview- Joost Niemoller: 'We may be sleepwalking into World War III'

The West is getting quite nervous about recent developments in Ukraine, where Russian troops are making a slow but steady advance. That is why French President Emmanuel Macron is suddenly shouting that perhaps French troops should go to Ukraine. So says expert and journalist Joost Niemoller to De Dagelijkse Standaard.

What do you think about Emmanuel Macron saying there may be French troops going to Ukraine, Joost?

Typically French. French leaders often think they have a cart to pull, walk ahead of the troops, look back and then see they are alone. Because France is not a leader of the world. We saw the same thing with Boris Johnson. Who was already leader-off even when he found it necessary to keep Zelensky off the path of peace negotiations. The utter absence of coordinated leadership in the U.S., leaves things further unsettled. Incidentally, Macron added right away that there was "no consensus" on sending NATO troops to Ukraine.

So what does he imagine? That France declares war on Russia? The reason was a meeting of European leaders in France about the great lack of ammunition. But the real reason is developments at the front. The fall of Abvdiivka in particular is much more important than the earlier fall of Bakhut and Mariupol.

When those cities finally fell, there was still an organized Ukrainian defense. Another Ukrainian offensive even followed, although it would come to nothing because of a perfectly organized Russian defense. Now there are increasing reports of a large Russian troop organization. This is making the West nervous.

What will be the effect if that indeed happens? Russia is threatening war against NATO in that case, but should we take that seriously or is that empty threats from a country that is fighting Ukraine alone with the utmost difficulty?"

Putin has said that NATO troops in Ukraine means he will deploy nuclear weapons. Earlier in the interview with Tucker Carlson, he said he will only invade Poland, if Poland attacks. I think Putin has many military options before he will move to nuclear weapons. So far, only a very small part of the Russian military is deployed in Ukraine. Putin is also showing that he can draw on a large arsenal in terms of manpower.

Therefore, at the front at Avdiivka we now see Mongolian fighters from Siberia. There are also mercenaries from countries like Nepal. Then there is Central Asia. Weapons, but possibly also military advisers from North Korea. And eventually China, and possibly India. In Siberia, Russia has huge weapons factories, inaccessible to the West. It also has inexhaustible fuel supplies.

He is completely independent in the economic sense, we can see that in the growth of the Russian economy, despite Western sanctions. I already saw a study come along showing that the Russian military is second only to the US in terms of firepower. We are seeing a meteoric rate of technological innovation.

Europe, with the exception of Poland, has no significant armies. The US has a huge army, but it is necessarily spread around the world.

So yes; Macron is bluffing. We have nothing to expect from NATO as a whole. We can, however, "sleepwalk" into a Third World War if some European countries are foolish enough to take initiatives of their own. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico -a sensible man!- said some European countries would consider sending troops on a bipolar basis. Life-threatening!

Stoltenberg has publicly contradicted Macron. But what does it say that Macron made these statements anyway? Is it not a sign that this kind of adventure is indeed being discussed behind the scenes at NATO?

It will certainly be discussed. I'm sure there are scenarios ready. But I don't see it happening. Where does Europe get young soldiers? These are largely immigrants today. From countries like Morocco, Turkey, Africa. Among these people Putin is enormously popular. Moreover, there are dual nationalities. Does Macron really think he can field a French Muslim army against a Russian Muslim army? To ask the question is to answer it.

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