The Government has been issued with a stark warning from Senior Army figures who warn that the UK’s defences have been “decimated” and Britain cannot defend itself against the military threat posed by Russia, the Telegraph reports.
The RAF had to scramble two Typhoon fighter jets on Wednesday evening after Russian long range bombers were sighted flying off the coast of Cornwall, only a fortnight after another similar incident over the South coast of England.
Earlier this week, a Russian warship was tracked by the Royal Navy as it passed through the English Channel, the Ministry of Defence confirmed. British warship HMS Argyll, based in Plymouth, Devon, was deployed and used its Lynx helicopter and sensors to locate and monitor the movement of the Russian ships off the coast of France and through the English Channel.
David Cameron did not seem to be taking the warning from the military experts too seriously, saying that Moscow appeared to be “trying to make some sort of a point” and adding: “I don’t think we should dignify it with too much of a response.”
But military experts have condemned the Prime Minister’s response, saying the whole issue was the inability of the UK to adequately respond to Russia, which has been building up its defences in recent years.
An address in 2013, devoted to “defenders of the Fatherland”, Putin proclaimed: “Ensuring Russia has a reliable military force is the priority of our state policy. Unfortunately, the present world is far from being peaceful and safe. Long obsolete conflicts are being joined by new, but no less difficult, ones. Instability is growing in vast regions of the world.”
Sir Michael Graydon, former Chief of the Air Staff, took the threat much more seriously.
“I very much doubt whether the UK could sustain a shooting war against Russia. We are at half the capabilities we had previously,” he said.
“They fly in these regions to check our air defences and have probably worked out we are not as sharp as we were. They know it is provocative and they are doing it at a time when defence in the west is pretty wet compared to where they are.”
There has been a significant increase in tensions between NATO and Russia, spurred on by the situation in Ukraine. The number of interceptions of Russian military flights over the Balkans trebled last year and NATO allies have increased policing support in the area.
In yet another damning indictment of the Coalition’s dismissive policy towards the nation’s defences, Air Commodore Andrew Lambert, who commanded Allied forces in northern Iraq in 1999, said: “If the Russians turned up the heat, we would struggle badly.”
“If Putin wanted to attack, he would not send a pair of bombers, he would send the lot and saturate our defences; we couldn’t cope”.
“The Typhoon is a really good aircraft but with their relatively small numbers they would be overwhelmed: the Russians would outflank us, go around us or just go through us.
“The modern generation of politicians has grown up in absolute security – they’ve never felt a threat to their existence, safety or security.
“They’ve taken peace for granted and decimated the Armed Forces. Let’s hope we don’t pay the price.”
The Russian ambassador has already been summoned to explain the behaviour of the Russian air force and the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said there is a “real and present danger” that Putin will launch a campaign of undercover attacks to destabilise the Baltic states.