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‘Russia poses bigger threat to UK than Al Qaeda’

Updated November 25, 2018


General Mark Carleton-Smith. — photo courtesy, UK Defence Journal
General Mark Carleton-Smith. — photo courtesy, UK Defence Journal

LONDON: Russia “indisputably” now poses a bigger threat to Britain’s security than terrorist groups like IS and Al Qaeda, the head of the British army said in an interview published on Saturday.

General Mark Carleton-Smith warned Moscow had shown a willingness to use its military to pursue its national interests while seeking to “exploit Western vulnerabilities”.

“Russia today indisputably represents a far greater threat to our national security than Islamic extremist threats such as Al Qaeda and [IS],” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“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.”

Relations between Russia and Britain have sunk to historic lows this year. London has blamed the country’s military intelligence service for orchestrating the poisoning with a nerve agent of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March.

Carleton-Smith, 54, said following IS battlefield loses in Syria and Iraq, the Western alliance must switch focus to the threat posed by Russia — and do so through Nato.

“The physical manifestation of the Islamist threat has diminished with the complete destruction of the geography of the so-called Caliphate,” he said.

“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.”

The former special forces commander was speaking in his first interview since becoming Britain’s chief of the general staff in June.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2018