Britain’s army chief has warned that Russia could provoke an accidental war if it made another military move that the British did not expect — and said it was time to rethink the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as a conventional force for countering Moscow.
General Mark Carleton-Smith told Parliament that the situation for NATO allies had become increasingly “dangerous” and said that the differences between the two superpowers had made a conventional conflict more likely.
“We are now very close to a situation where we could have an accidental conflict where a small number of small states could go toe-to-toe with the Russian Federation on the battlefield and where that would be the case we would have to seriously consider how we defend ourselves from that possibility,” he said in a written statement.
The U.K. and other Western states also were reminded of the scale of Russia’s military, general forces, and submarines at the weekend, when it sent nuclear-armed bombers and destroyers and submarines into the Mediterranean Sea. NATO said that it had seen “defensive drills” that was “hardly a surprise.” The weekend’s maneuvers also included about 100 Russian warplanes and 200 ships and submarines on patrol.
Gen. Carleton-Smith said that Russia now had a stronger conventional military than during the Cold War and called for cooperation among allies to defend themselves against Russia. However, he also said that NATO was “nowhere near the state of readiness it needs to be.”
“What we are afraid of is that in what could appear to be a reckless act of military adventurism, they may spark the kind of conflict that we don’t want to have,” he said.
In a separate statement, he said that Russian “escalation” was to blame for the world being in a state of tension and said that the West should “carefully assess the availability of military assets and capacity we might need in case of trouble.”
News Corp Australia