Russia has been ‘flexing their muscles’ in the UK’s backyard in a way not seen since the Cold War, the Chief of the Defence Staff has said, after 10 warships entered British waters.
Delivering his Royal United Services Institute Christmas lecture, General Sir Nick Carter said Moscow wanted to test Britain and the Nato allies as the regime was reacting to problems with its neighbours.
The head of the British Armed Forces said: ‘They are wrestling with their own sense of imperial overstretch as their ‘near abroad’ becomes increasingly restive.
‘The week before last, Russia assembled 10 or so warships and combat aircraft from the northern Baltic and Black Sea fleets in a show of force in the waters off the British and Irish coasts.
Pictured: Handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the Russian corvette Boikiy (front) which was shadowed by HMS Lancaster as it sailed in waters around the UK in a show of strength by Russia
‘They are flexing their muscles in our own backyard with an ostentation that they’ve not displayed since the Cold War.
‘Deterring these threats, signalling to the Russian regime that we shall not tamely acquiesce should they escalate, requires conventional hard power, warships and aircraft, as well as less conventional capabilities like cyber.’
Sir Nick said it also required Britain to maintain strong relations with allies, such as Nato.
Later in his speech, he talked about the importance of cyber warfare in modern combat.
But the general, who has served in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, added: ‘Throughout, we must recognise that the nature of war doesn’t change.
‘It’s always about violence, guts, people.
‘When you are up against a determined opponent on the battlefield, you have to go close and personal with your enemy.
‘I am afraid it’s too early to plot the demise of the tank.’
The 61-year-old, who joined the Army in 1977, said the world was changing more quickly than ever before, but he was convinced the forces could adapt.
Delivering his Royal United Services Institute Christmas lecture, General Sir Nick Carter said Moscow wanted to test Britain and the Nato allies as the regime was reacting to problems with its neighbours
In his online lecture, he said: ‘We shall surprise and perhaps dismay some people who expect us now, as sometimes in the past, to be preparing to fight the last war.
‘Our business is instead with the next one and with arming, training and equipping ourselves to fight, if we must, but better still to convince our prospective adversaries that the game is simply not worth the candle.’
Carter’s comments came after another show of Russian strength this week, which saw President Vladimr Putin test-fire four intercontinental ballistic missiles from a submarine.
The Vladimir Monomakh submarine of the Pacific Fleet launched four Bulava missiles in quick succession from an underwater position in the Sea of Okhotsk, which lies near to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, on Saturday, according to The Defence Ministry.
The dummy missiles hit their designated targets on the Chiza shooting range in the Arkhangelsk region in northwestern Russia more than 3,400 miles away, the ministry said in a statement.
The Vladimir Monomakh is one of the new Borei-class nuclear submarines that carry 16 Bulava missiles each and are intended to serve as the core of the naval component of the nation’s nuclear forces for decades to come.
In 2018 another submarine of the same type performed a similar launch of four Bulava missiles which mimicked the conditions of a major nuclear conflict and was a costly demonstration of the efficiency of the country’s nuclear deterrent.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a report to President Putin that the launch wrapped up large-scale drills of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces that began on Wednesday.
The manoeuvres also saw another Russian nuclear submarine perform a practice launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from the Barents Sea, a ground-based ICBM was launched from the Plesetsk facility in northwestern Russia and Tu-160 and Tu-95 strategic bombers fired cruise missiles at test targets at an Arctic range.
It comes as Russia has expanded its military drills in recent years amid tensions with the West as relations have sunk to post-Cold War lows after Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine´s Crimean Peninsula.
The series of missile launches comes less than two months before the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) U.S.-Russian arms control treaty expires in early February.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a report to President Putin (pictured) that the launch wrapped up large-scale drills of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces that started on Wednesday
Intercontinental ballistic missiles are launched by the Vladimir Monomakh nuclear submarine of the Russian navy from the Sera of Okhotsk, Russia
Moscow and Washington have discussed the possibility of its extension but so far have failed to overcome their differences.
New START was signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
It limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance.
A Russian Tu-160 strategic bomber fires a cruise missile at test targets, during a military drills, Russia, on Wednesday 9 December
A ground-based intercontinental ballistic missile was launched from the Plesetsk facility in northwestern Russia on Wednesday 9
The Russian military has conducted sweeping drills of its strategic nuclear forces that featured several practice missile launches
After both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year, New START is the only remaining nuclear arms control deal between the two countries still standing.
Arms control advocates have warned that its expiration would remove any checks on U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, in a blow to global stability.