A former NATO commander says Russian President Vladimir Putin 'may be the best thing that ever happened to the NATO alliance'

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis said Putin’s Ukraine invasion pushed Germany to increase its defense budget within 48 hours.Janos Kummer/Getty Images

  • A former NATO commander said Vladimir Putin could be the “best thing” to happen to the security organization.

  • James Stavridis said Putin’s aggression in Ukraine pushed Germany to increase its defense budget within 48 hours.

  • Stavridis told MSNBC he couldn’t convince Germany to do the same during his four-year tenure.

Former North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis said on Sunday that President Vladimir Putin may be “the best thing that ever happened” to NATO, explaining that the Russian leader’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted the West to bolster its defenses.

Stavridis, who served as NATO commander from 2009 to 2013, cited Germany’s recent boost in defense spending — announced days after Putin declared an assault on Ukraine — in an interview with MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart.

“I spent four years as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. At every conference, every meeting of high-level NATO officials, I would find my way to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and the Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leye,” Stavridis said. “And I would say to them: You’ve got to raise your defense spending. And I got nowhere in four years.”

“In 48 hours, Vladimir Putin has inspired the Germans to effectively nearly double their defense budget — a smart move on the part of Germans,” Stavridis continued.

“Vladimir Putin may be the best thing that ever happened to the NATO alliance,” he told Capehart.

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, announced on February 27 that it would create a special one-off fund of 100 billion euros for military spending. Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the country’s year-on-year defense budget moving forward would be “more than 2% of our GDP,” reversing a recent decline in German military spending.

Scholz said that the extra funds were for Germany’s “own security” and to fulfill its NATO obligations.

Stavridis told The New York Times on Friday that the established global system was like a battered car that was out-of-date and “could use a good tune-up.”

“But it is still on the road, rolling along, and, ironically enough, Vladimir Putin has done more in a week to energize it than anything I can remember,” he said.

The retired four-star admiral on Sunday said he thought Putin was “highly unlikely” to use nuclear weapons or cross swords directly with NATO.

“When you end up in a conventional conflict, the NATO alliance outspends Russia 15 to one. We have a four-to-one advantage in ground troops. We have a five-to-one advantage in combat aircraft, [a] six-to-one advantage of warships,” he said.

“He’s not going to pick a fight with the NATO alliance.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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