In February 2014, following the Ukrainian revolution that ousted Viktor Yanukovych, the Crimean Peninsula was annexed by Russia under Putin’s orders. Within days, unmarked forces with local militias took over the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, as well as occupying several localities in Kherson Oblast on the Arabat Spit, which is geographically a part of Crimea. The Russian President claimed he had the backing of his people and within days signed a treaty of accession with the self-declared Republic of Crimea, annexing it into the Russian Federation as two federal subjects.
The move left many concerned of a Russian resurgence which threatened to cast the shadow of a new iron curtain on Europe.
It also infuriated NATO, who ordered the creation of a new “spearhead” force of 5,000 troops to be based in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.
These locations were far from random as the countries were bound by Article 5, or collective defence of NATO, that states an attack against one of them would be an attack against them all.
Mr Herbst, the former US ambassador for Ukraine, revealed during Amazon Prime’s series “Is America in Retreat?” why there were serious concerns about Russian policy.
Putin sent forces into Crimea in 2014
Russia could eye up invasions into Latvia and Estonia, according to the US ambassador
We are bound by NATO charter to defend [them] with our military
He said in 2017: “Mr Putin and senior Russian officials beside him have said that there needs to be new rules of global order, or there will be no rules.
“They said the post-Cold War settlement in Europe is unacceptable to them.
“They have said that they have the right, in fact, the duty, to protect not just ethnic Russians, but Russian speakers wherever they live.
“Those arguments were used to justify the Kremlin’s aggression in Georgia, they were used to justify the Kremlin’s aggression in Crimea.”
Mr Herbst explained why Russia may try its luck with other European countries.
However, he also revealed there would be dire consequences, as the US is also bound by Article 5.
He added: “25 percent of the people in Latvia and 25 percent of the people in Estonia are ethnic Russians and Russian speakers.
“So the Kremlin could use the same logic to conduct military operations in the Baltic States who happen to be members of NATO.
“We are bound by the NATO Charter to defend with our military.”
Just last week the US, along with other NATO states flexed their muscles and rolled out troops once again.
John Herbst says the US would back its NATO allies
Operation Saber Strike started last week
More than 27,000 troops headed to Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary to take part in Operation Saber Strike, which runs until June 24.
This yearly event, which has been running since 2010, focuses on training the forces to cooperate together to protect against a possible hostile attack in Europe.
Political journalist and author Brett Stephens claimed during the same series there should be no question that his country would go to war with Russia if they believed any NATO state was under threat.
He said: “Look, during the Cold War, we risked nuclear war with the Soviet Union to defend this little outpost of freedom called West Berlin.
“From an objective military point of view, it was an indefensible position.
“And yet we garrisoned West Berlin, we stood up that city and in time it became a giant advertisement for the superiority of capitalism over communism.
“It’s not an accident, comrades, that when the Cold War ended, it ended in Berlin with that wall.
“So our willingness to commit to the defence of that little city ended up paying the biggest dividend of them all.”