At the home in which I grew up, our plot was separated from the narrow country road that ran along a boundary by a 2m wide strip that belonged to Suffolk County Council. It was annoyance at the Council's lack of maintenance that drove my mother to add its grooming to my boyhood task-list of mowing and trimming. So for a length of 70 or 80m as the road ran alongside our land, an unkempt, blowsy country roadside assumed a neatly trimmed tidiness. It took three or four years for the Council to twig that we were maintaining their roadside - whereupon, they started regularly to send out a maintenance gang to pre-empt my efforts.
My mother took it as a sign that local bureaucracy was amenable to her own particular form of 'nudge', and was happy that she had a neat boundary. I was happy at losing the task of maintaining it. Now, of course, I realise that the Council had been prompted not by a sense of obligation to a ratepayer but from fear that if we maintained it for 12 years and they didn't, we could claim ownership of the 2m strip from them through adverse possession. I'm glad my mother had no knowledge of this quirk in British law - it would have prompted her to surreptitiously expand on all borders.
And so with Russia. Russia will expand in any direction that is not clearly and signally defended and 'owned'. That includes land, sea and air. It doesn't make Russia any more of an enemy than cutting a verge made me an enemy of Suffolk County Council; Russia acts in a very proper Adam Smith type of economic self-interest. And peace is best served by NATO and the UK maintaining forces, fleets and air patrol and response capacities that signal clearly and without doubt where the boundaries are. A minimum of 2% of GDP but ideally for the United Kingdom, a spend that gives us a standing army of 100,000 men and a fleet of 50 warships.
That Russia also must be an ally in the coming conflict with African mass migration, Islamist aggression and Malthusian challenges doesn't mean we shouldn't also keep clear boundaries and military parity in sight. The EU of course is blind to the realpolitik and risks conflict through its insane territorial ambitions - a dangerous stupidity that needs the UK's level head to counter. If Theresa May makes Presidents Putin and Trump her key diplomatic priorities, she is doing absolutely the right thing.