Ben Glaze — Daily Mirror June 20, 2018
Russia is preparing for war, a top Defence Minister warned senior military officers on Wednesday.
Tory Mark Lancaster insisted the Kremlin was getting ready for conflict after learning lessons from recent battles it has fought.
And the new head of the Army warned of an “existential” threat to Britain as he outlined the strength of Vladimir Putin ’s military.
Armed Forces Minister Mr Lancaster became the latest senior Conservative to voice fears over growing Kremlin aggression.
He told the Royal United Services Institute’s annual land warfare conference in London: “Spin the globe and look at the world from Russia’s perspective.
“Consider how they might view threats, and whilst we don’t know whether they view conflict as inevitable, they are preparing for it.”
Lancaster also rejected claims Moscow’s use of cyber operations and proxies shows they “don’t intend to get their hands dirty”.
He added: “There is an alternative thesis – that Russia have concluded that they are not ready for major combat operations, that they have learned the lessons from Georgia and the relative failure of their annexation of Crimea, and are now investing hard in the future of their conventional forces.
“On this basis, it is a myth to think that Russia won’t use hard power at some point in the future.”
Chief of the General Staff General Mark Carleton-Smith fuelled fears about the threat from the Kremlin in his first speech since becoming head of the Army earlier this week.
He said: “Russia today is not a status quo power, it’s in revisionist mode and its intent is now matched by a growing arsenal of long-range precision capabilities.”
Rules-based order is “underpinned by power – predominantly hard power” – and Putin does not respect countries with “weak” Armed Forces, experts were told.
Pointing to Russia’s recent military campaigns, and the nerve agent attack on a former KGB agent in Wiltshire in March – blamed on the Kremlin – Gen Carleton-Smith added: “Their lack of respect for weakness, especially military weakness, hasn’t changed one bit, and as we’ve become more sceptical about the necessity or advantage of intervention – Georgia, Ukraine, Syria, Montenegro, Libya, Salisbury.
“How much longer do we want that list to grow?”
While boosting cyber forces was necessary, traditional forces were also essential, he insisted.
Gen Carleton-Smith said: “The misplaced perception that there is no imminent or existential threat to the UK – and that even if there was it could only arise at long notice – is wrong, along with a flawed belief that conventional hardware and mass are irrelevant in countering Russian subversion, and that the answer lies somehow in disruptive technology, and that the quicker we can field those technologies, the less useful the traditional measures to combat power become as indicators of national power.
“To my mind, that is to misunderstand the Russian challenge.”