A war between Russia and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is “not likely” in 2017, says the UK defense chief, playing down an earlier warning by MI5 chief Andrew Parker.
Sir Michael Fallon made the remarks in an address to the House of Commons Defense Committee, when asked if the plot of 2017 War With Russia, written by NATO’s former deputy allied commander in Europe, General Sir Richard Shirreff, was realistic.
Fallon, however, disagreed that the two were on a collision course in the next year, downplaying the book and earlier warnings by Parker in an unprecedented interview with theGuardian.
“Well, there are a lot of people writing books and trying to sell them, and his is a very good one. However, I don’t agree that war with Russia is likely next year. I think that is too extreme,” he said.
Citing the Russian forces’ support for the Syrian government against the Daesh Takfiri terrorists as well as the recent cruise of Russian nuclear-powered warships and fighter jets through UK territorial waters, Fallon admitted that there has already been “much greater Russian aggression this year, and in previous years.”
The Russian flotilla, including the flagship aircraft carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov, sailed down the English Channel late last month, wreaking havoc in the British media.
“And I hope that General Shirreff would – and I think he does this – recognize that NATO is now responding. So, NATO is waking up to the challenge,” the British defense chief added.
This is while, Parker had warned of “increasingly aggressive ways,” to which Moscow was resorting against Britain.
“It is using its whole range of state organs and powers to push its foreign policy abroad in increasingly aggressive ways – involving propaganda, espionage, subversion and cyber-attacks. Russia is at work across Europe and in the UK today. It is MI5’s job to get in the way of that,” Parker said in the interview, released on Monday.
He added that Russia has been threatening the UK covertly for decades, but “what’s different these days is that there are more and more methods available.”
Moscow, however, strongly rejected claims by the director-general of the British Security Service, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying that Russia seeks to “promote and defend its interests abroad” but in line with international laws and based on “good and mutually beneficial relations with all partners.”
Relations between Russia and the West soured after people in Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted for rejoining the Russian Federation in a referendum in March 2014.
The ties became further unfriendly over the crisis in Syria, where Russia has been conducting an air campaign at the request of the Syrian government to fight Daesh since September 30, 2015.
Russia’s military campaign has helped the government of President Bashar al-Assad defeat the Takfiri terrorists in many regions across the country.