​Russia could beat us in war says army chief

War machine: A British soldier (on the left) matched up against a Russian counterpart (right).

Should we invest more in defence? Yesterday the head of the British army issued an urgent call to build up the military, but sceptics ridiculed the idea that modern Russia is a real threat.

The threat of war with Russia is “on Europe’s doorstep,” claimed the head of the UK’s armed forces. And if that threat turns real, Britain may not have the resources to fight back.

That was the disturbing message yesterday as General Sir Nick Carter piled pressure on politicians to give the Army more cash.

He claimed that the military’s ability to fight “will be eroded if we don’t keep up with our adversaries”, and that threats will only be countered by “finding more money for defence”.

The extent of the danger Russia poses to the UK is disputed. According to journalist Ewen MacAskill Russia is far enough away “not to pose a territorial threat”.

However, that does not make conflict unthinkable. Currently, British troops are part of a NATO force deployed in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. And Britain’s obligations to NATO mean that it must defend these countries if Russia attacks.

And it could be that other less conventional tactics are now on the cards.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, it has unleashed a “digital blitzkreig” of cyber attacks on the population. And last year it was revealed that Russian cyber attacks have already hit British energy and communication networks.

So should Britain invest more in its military?

Red scare

The Russia threat is a “red herring,” says columnist Simon Jenkins, and some agree. It is not the number of soldiers or tanks we have that creates military might, but strategic alliances like NATO. If we stand tall with our allies we will contain the Russia threat.

We must not be complacent, others respond. The peaceful consensus that has graced most of Europe since the second world war cannot last forever, and Britain must be able to stand on its own two feet when old alliances fall apart. Give the military the money they need.

You Decide

  1. Will there ever be another big war in Europe?

Activities

  1. Imagine you have been granted an interview with Vladimir Putin, but you can only ask him one question. What would you ask him and why?

Some People Say...

“War does not determine who is right, but only who is left.”

Bertrand Russell

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Between April 2016 and March 2017, the British Government spent £35.3 billion on defence. The UK has fifth biggest defence budget in the world and the highest in the EU.
What do we not know?
According to NATO, 4,500 troops have been deployed to the Baltic region following growing fears of Russian incursions. However, we do not know what actions Putin plans to take in the region.

Word Watch

Resources
As of October 2017, there were 82,040 full-time and fully-trained troops in the British Army. The total personnel is over 137,000 when the Royal Air Force, Navy and Marines are included.
NATO
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Established in 1949 and currently made up of 29 Western nations. If one member state is attacked, all others are required to come to its assistance.
Revealed
Ciaran Martin, boss of the National Cyber Security Centre, said that these attacks were an attempt by Russia to “undermine the international system”.