British defence officials have held talks with counterparts in Russia following some alarming incidents near the coast of Britain. The British Defence Secretary confirmed the discussions held in Moscow, following repeated incidents involving Russian aircraft over the last few months. Russian jets have made numerous excursions that have neared British territory, and this appears to be an ongoing concern for the UK military.
Crisis talks reported
Michael Fallon, the British Defence Secretary, has been locked in talks with Russian officials in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the incidents. Although Russian jets haven’t technically penetrated British territory, they have persistently flown close to the border. This has meant that the Russian fighters have entered what is described as a British area of interest, enough to pique the concern of the UK establishment.
Speaking at the Atlantic Council think-tank in the United States, Fallon suggested that the diplomatic process with Russia is unfolding as the two major nations attempt to find a satisfactory solution to the situation.
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“There have been discussions with Russia about setting up some means of avoiding any miscalculation with its long range aviation. We have seen a number of incursions into the British flight information region over recent months. We’ve been pressing for ways of avoiding any miscalculation or accident because these aircraft have not been responding to communications from air traffic control, or indeed signals from the planes we send up to intercept them. There was discussion of that at a meeting over in Moscow,” Fallon outlined.
Although there are significant concerns about the incidents in Britain, the UK Defence Secretary has dismissed concerns that the British government having entered into a policy of appeasement. Fallon in particular rubbished claims that Britain and Russia had made a specific plans for collaboration over bombing campaigns against the Islamic State terrorist organisation in Syria and Iraq.
The Syrian campaign is a particular bone of contention, with Britain and Russia naturally finding themselves on different sides of the political divide. Russia has generally opposed the idea that Syria should be subjected to military intervention – although it has altered this policy recently – and there has been support for the sentiments of Putin on the subject among Western populations. Meanwhile, after the terrorist atrocities in France, the British parliament recently passed a resolution with the intention of extending airstrikes in Syria. Russia has participated in its own campaign against Syria, but there is no accord between the two ‘sides’ on the subject.
There is hope that a satisfactory diplomatic solution can be found. Yet Fallon has apparently ruled out such a conclusion at least in the foreseeable future, as the British and Russian governments tread delicately considering the diplomatic situation.
Nonetheless, despite the power of Russia and is military might, and the potentially vulnerable situation that Britain finds itself in, Fallon made strong statements at the Atlantic Council. The British Defence Minister opined that there had been a significant resurgence in Russian aggression over the last five years, and that the existing situation was regrettable.
“This attempt in the Crimea and Ukraine to change international borders by force, the constant pressure on the Baltic states, the increase in long range aviation, the increase in submarine activity, means we have to regard now, sadly, Russia as more of a competitor and a threat that we have to take measures against, not least because of the increase in their own defence spending both on nuclear and conventional forces,” Fallon commented.
In addition, Fallon also indicated the intention of the British military establishment to respond to Russian activities On the UK borders. “Russian aggression is something we have to counter and the Russian threat is something we cannot ignore,” Fallon asserted.
Russia ups nuclear ante
Meanwhile, as the geopolitical balance of power continues to evolve, the Russian president Putin has been making provisions within Russia as well. Reports indicate that Putin has ordered Russian defense leaders to reinforce the tactical nuclear capabilities of the superpower amid increasing tensions with the United States. It is thought that Putin is particularly concerned about the international balance of power, and that this has led to this rather extreme and worrying activity.
In addition to nuclear preparation, the Russian military will also take action in order to enhance the effectiveness of missile strike warning systems and aerospace defence. The Russian military will develop five new atomic regiments which will be equipped with contemporary missile complexes, according to the Russian defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
New world order tensions
The decision and activity involved in strengthening Russian atomic capacities will only serve to increase tensions between the old world order, dominated by the Anglo-American Establishment and EU-NATO architecture, and the new challenge to this power represented by Russia and China. The United States establishment has already gone on record to condemn the behavior of Russia, describing the Kremlin policy as “nuclear saber rattling”. It is the opinion of the White House that the Russian establishment is effectively sabotaging stability in an effort to intimidate European neighbors and US allies.
Putin has indicated that the Russian military will expand its existing policy, which will include training exercises and the allocation of attention to developing tactical nuclear deterrence.
Nonetheless, despite the concerns about Russian military aggression in Washington, the policy of the Russian government toward Islamic State should at least find favor. The aforementioned Shoigu has stated that Russian airstrikes in Syria, which began in September, have hit 8,000 terrorist infrastructure targets over 4,000 combat missions. Although Russia has been, at best, lukewarm about the intentions of Western foreign policy, there has at least in recent agreements in Iran and Syria been an indication that the superpowers are willing to work together to some extent.
Nonetheless, Russia has indicated that it will not be intimidated, and its latest measures will only increase what is already a tense relationship between the west and its perennial rival.