The outgoing head of the UK’s armed forces has said the military will have to be ready for war with Russia after recent tensions in eastern Europe, but he does not believe Vladimir Putin really wants “hot war” with the west.
Gen Sir Nick Carter said Russia was now a greater threat in eastern Europe than it was when he started in the role eight years ago, as he gave a series of interviews before his departure as chief of the defence staff at the end of the month.
He said he “distinctly hoped” there would not be a war with Russia and he did not believe the country wanted a physical war, but Nato would have to be ready.
He spoke amid tensions on the border between Poland and Russia’s ally Belarus over refugees stranded in camps, as well as signs that Russian troops could be amassing along the border with Ukraine.
The former MI6 officer Christopher Steele has said he believes Moscow thinks it is at war with the UK and its allies.
Asked about this view on Sky News’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday, Carter said: “Russia probably regards the global strategic context as a continuous struggle in which they would apply all the instruments of national power to achieve their objectives. But in so doing, [the Russians] don’t want to bring on a hot war.