‘Greatest nuke threat from Russia in decades’ brings MoD paper forward

The ongoing war in Ukraine puts Britain at its greatest risk of nuclear war with Russia in decades, UK defence chiefs have warned.

The Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) grim assessment comes in an evaluation of the UK’s defence needs that has been brought forward because of the increased risks we face. The Defence Command Paper 2023 also considers the long-term challenges posed by China, North Korea, Iran and global terrorism.

However, it pays special heed to the escalating threat posed by Russia and the war in Ukraine. It says: “Europe has not seen this scale of conflict since the end of the Second World War. The threat of nuclear escalation is greater than at any time since the Cold War.”  

Read more… ‘Crazy’ Putin could spark WW3 using ‘number one nuclear threat’ from Russia

A forward to the paper, co-written by Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace and Armed Forces Mister James Heappey, says: “We did not plan on issuing a new Command Paper just two years since the last, but we have gone from a competitive age to a contested and volatile world.

“Since March 2021, the threats and challenges we faced have manifested themselves, as have many of the technological advances predicted and our need to adapt faster to them if we are to continue outmatching our adversaries.

“Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine was not simply an assault on a proud and sovereign nation. It was also an attack on our values, European security, and the open international order on which stability and prosperity have depended for over three-quarters of a century.”

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“The return of major war to the continent of Europe – alongside growing threats elsewhere in the world – means we need to sharpen our approach. We need to ensure our warfighting capabilities are robust and credible to be able to deter threats from manifesting in the first place, but also to fight and win if they do”

The ministers say that the conclusions of its previous Command Paper “remain right – Russia was and is the greatest threat to European security.”

However, they add that: “China’s rapid military modernisation and growing assertiveness within the Indo-Pacific do pose an increasing challenge.”

The MoD Paper states that “our national security is intrinsically linked to the outcome of the war in Ukraine”. It says this war gives valuable insight into how to beat a numerically superior but relatively poorly-trained army.

It notes that “Russia’s failures in Ukraine have significantly weakened its land and guided weapon capabilities”. However, it warns that Russia: “Retains capable nuclear and strategic forces, and has the intent and capacity to rebuild and regenerate.”

“We have witnessed the willingness of the Russian government to resort to irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, making the threat of nuclear escalation greater than at any time since the Cold War,” continues the paper.

Elsewhere, it says that Iran and North Korea “will remain volatile threats to security in their regions and beyond”. And it says that the threat from Terrorist organisations “has not diminished” – and says “non-state actors” will “still aspire to attack the UK and our interests abroad”.

And it notes that “climate change, economic challenges, the pace of technological change and competition for food and raw materials” mean the world will “face increasingly complex and diverse security challenges”.

The 97-page paper also sets out how the MoD will aim to meet these challenges, by “transforming” its workforce “to meet the ever-growing demand for technical skills in the modern battlespace”, and the Armed Forces themselves “through science, innovation and technology”.

It also outlines how the MoD aims to “transform our relationship with industry – forging a new alliance – to create an environment that generates a shared sense of national endeavour.” And it states that the UK’s Armed Forces will need “seamless interoperability” with our “Euro-Atlantic Allies and Partners” – with the US and France being name-checked as our two closest partners.

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