Re: Sad state of affairs
Europe didn't arm-up to deal with Russia during the Cold War, why would it do so now? Germany didn't spend much more on just defending Germany than the UK did in the 70s and 80s. And the pathetic attempts of the federalists in the EU to get a common foreign and defence policy rather show up how disunited they are. Obviously that gets blamed on the UK blocking it, partly true of course, but then even those that joined showed little committment.
As to there being no Russian threat, how do you explain the invasion of the Ukraine? There was no talk of Ukraine joining NATO before it was attacked. There's silly talk of it now, but it's never going to happen. The Russians turned a neighbouring country with a few thousand mile border with them into a failed state for heaven-knows what reason, and that very unpredictability (along with their growing forces) makes them a threat.
Also, we accepted the Baltic States into NATO. Given their large, and unhappy, Russian populations left over from Soviet occupation, there is a serious threat of instability, similar to what's happened in Ukraine. And who's to say Russia might not try the same tricks again? If Putin was predictable, or we knew his objectives, then we might be less worried. But he's not, and we don't, so there's a risk. If NATO means anything, then we either have to prepare to defend them, or chuck them out and admit we don't care.
As for a threat from Russia being an "official line", the Russian intelligence services did choose to contaminate large parts of my capital city with highly radioctive Polunium. If they wanted to kill a defector, they could have just been polite and shot the guy... Their government has also publicly threatened to invade the Baltic states, which we're treaty-bound to defend, oh and threatened the use of nuclear weapons against NATO - again in a press conference. It's probably all bluster, but you have a military to deal with those times when it isn't.
Did I mention the bit about invading a neighbouring country and annexing part of its territory (ahem! Crimea), something that's not happened in Europe since WWII.