Russia bigger threat than Isis: UK chief
Russia is “indisputably” a greater security threat to Nato than Islamist extremism, Russia’s new army chief has warned.
Apart from its conventional military threat, Russia was constantly seeking to undermine the west by developing war-fighting capabilities in non-conventional areas such as cyber and space, General Mark Carleton-Smith said.
In his first interview since being appointed chief of the general staff in June, the 54-year-old said complacency must be avoided.
“Russia today indisputably represents a far greater threat to our national security than Islamic extremist threats such as al-Qaeda and Isil,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
“Russia has demonstrated that it is prepared to use military force to secure and expand its own national interests. The Russians seek to exploit vulnerability and weakness wherever they detect it,” said Carleton-Smith, who graduated from Britain’s Sandhurst military academy in the final years of the Cold War.
“Russia has embarked on a systematic effort to explore and exploit western vulnerabilities, particularly in some of the non-traditional areas of cyber, space, undersea warfare,” the former SAS commander added.
Carleton-Smith led the search for Osama bin Laden following the September 11 terror attacks and was key in Britain’s role in the campaign to combat so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“We cannot be complacent about the threat Russia poses or leave it uncontested. The most important conventional military response to Russia is the continued capabilities and coherence of the Nato alliance.”
He recently visited British troops in Estonia in the new Baltic and Polish deployment to secure Nato’s eastern flank.
Russia has accused London of Russophobia, misleading the international community and UK citizens with “disgusting anti-Russian hysteria”.
This week Moscow published legislation aimed at stopping leaks of personal information from state agencies, following the publication of details of Russians allegedly involved in spying abroad.
The communications ministry’s bill outlaws unauthorised people from using databases of personal data drawn from official sources.
It says state agencies consult with the Federal Security Service, Russia’s main domestic intelligence agency when handling data.
The communications ministry declined to comment.
The bill makes no mention of the repeated leaks about Russian spies.
Russia was embarrassed by leaks about two men Britain alleges were intelligence agents who used a nerve agent to poison former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
The alleged assassins said they were tourists visiting Salisbury cathedral.
But Bellingcat, the investigative website, used leaked passport information to identify the pair as officers at Moscow’s GRU military intelligence agency.
Estonian troops in Poland in efforts to shore up Nato’s eastern frontier. Picture credit: Wikimedia