News and Views
The new Cold War: Putin issues chilling new threat as Nato chief says tensions with Russia could end in ‘all out conflict’
- Putin unveiled ambitious military modernization program with new combat jets, missiles and other weapons
- General Sir Adrian Bradshaw said Vladimir Putin could use ‘hybrid-warfare ‘to seize former Baltic states
- He backed plans to set up Nato force integration units in eastern Europe to ‘send a strong signal’ to the Kremlin
- Comments echo those by Defence Secretary who claimed Russian aggression poses as great a threat as Isis
- Ukraine secret services accuse political aide to Vladimir Putin of directing the snipers in Kiev prior to the revolution
- RAF jets this week scrambled to intercept two Russian bombers capable of carrying nuclear missiles off Cornwall
- Tupolev Tu95 Bear aircraft streaked along fringes of UK airspace, prompting the deployment of two Typhoons
- Russian TV later screens footage of mid-air contact thought to have been filmed on previous interception
- Country ‘could not cope’ if Russia attacked because our defences have been ‘decimated’, say military chiefs
- David Cameron defiantly dismissed the incident, saying the Russians ‘are trying to make some sort of a point’
- But former air chiefs say number of British fighter squadrons has fallen from 26 at Cold War end to just seven
Military chiefs have warned that Britain has entered a new Cold War with Russia, as Vladimir Putin threatened anyone who tried to pressure his country.
Amid growing tensions over Ukraine, Putin said ‘no one should have any illusions that it’s possible to achieve military superiority over Russia or apply any kind of pressure on it’.
Adding that his forces would always have an ‘adequate response’, he vowed to step up an ambitious military modernisation, with hundreds of new combat jets, missiles and other weapons.
His comments sparked renewed concern about the UK’s capability to cope in the event of a conflict with Russia.
Britain’s top military commander in Nato spoke of an ‘era of constant competition with Russia’, while a former RAF chief said the UK was in ‘a different sort of Cold War.’
Formidable: Putin vowed to step up an ambitious military modernisation, with hundreds of new combat jets, missiles and other weapons Despite an economic downturn caused by low oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine, Russia’s military budget has risen by one-third this year
This week, RAF fighter jets were scrambled to intercept two Russian bombers capable of carrying nuclear missiles off the Cornwall coast. Russian military planes, ships and submarines have made at least 17 incursions close to the UK since the start of 2014 as Moscow tests Western response times.
General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, Nato’s deputy supreme allied commander in Europe, said tensions with Russia could become an all-out conflict. Putin could invade and seize Nato territory and change Europe’s borders, he added in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute in London.
The general said: ‘The threat from Russia and the risk it brings of miscalculation resulting in a strategic conflict, represents an existential threat to our whole being.’
He claimed Russia may use traditional Soviet tactics of ‘escalation dominance’ or hybrid warfare.
Putin could generate large-scale conventional forces at ‘very short notice’, after calculating the alliance would be too afraid of escalating violence to respond, he said.
Former RAF chief Sir Michael Graydon said there was ‘no doubt’ Europe and the Kremlin were engaged in conflict, with tensions similar to those seen in the 1980s – when the Russians would probe British air defences to work out how quickly they could respond.
‘Today it is to check our air defences and they have probably worked out we are not as sharp as we were, and it is also them saying here we are … a powerful nation,’ Sir Michael said.
He added: ‘It is a different sort of Cold War. Putin is focusing on weaknesses in the EU.
‘He feels Nato has pushed Russia in Europe and made him feel vulnerable and is seeing what he can get away with. If he sees weaknesses he will exploit it.
‘There is no doubt there is a competition and conflict on. He wants to establish Russia as another great power.’
Referring to crisis in Ukraine, the Prime Minister said the West would be ‘staunch’ in response and was prepared to pressure Moscow ‘for the long term’.
David Cameron warned there will be ‘more consequences’ and further sanctions for Russia if the ceasefire does not hold.
He rejected the assessment of a parliamentary committee that the UK found itself ‘sleep-walking’ into the crisis over Ukraine, insisting the blame for the situation lay ‘squarely’ with Russia and its president Mr Putin.
Speaking on a visit to Govan shipyard in Glasgow, the Prime Minister said: ‘I don’t accept this. The responsibility for what has happened in Ukraine lies absolutely squarely with Vladimir Putin and Russia.
‘They destabilised and effectively invaded this country and have caused all the problems that have happened since.
‘What Britain and countries of the European Union have done is merely to say that Ukraine should be able to choose its own future.’
He said Britain had led the way in terms of calling for Russia to be thrown out of the G8 and pushed for strong sanctions and vowed not to back down.