The fear-mongering rhetoric of an evil Russia is alive and well in the UKs new defense strategy. Promoted by Gavin Williamson, it doesnt miss an opportunity to put the Kremlins hand under every bed and across every corner.
UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson has unveiled a robust defense paper entitled “Mobilising, Modernising and Transforming Defence.” The 28-page documents outlines measures to upgrade the British military, but also describes in detail the face of UKs modern enemy. And this is where it gets more interesting.
“Across Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, the level of overt and covert state aggression has grown in recent years,” reads a chapter simply called the Threat. Adding the world has definitely become a dangerous place, the paper stokes some more fear to keep the reader on the hook.
“Cyber-attacks, assassination, disinformation, theft of intellectual property, espionage and military intimidation are all being used more regularly and more ruthlessly,” it cautions, jumping to an obvious claim: “Russia in particular is making extensive use of these methods.”
What comes next reminds one of a common Hollywood action flick where Russia is the main villain. Russian military intelligence, the GRU, “has been caught in a campaign of reckless and indiscriminate cyber-attacks,” it says, warning that the sinister agency “targets business, media and people going about their daily lives.”
It also says the GRU tried to infiltrate international institutions like the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an allegation which Moscow vehemently denies. Further reading suggests the UK Defense Ministry believes that Russia “provides separatists in Ukraine with advanced technology” while attempting to intimidate the Kiev government.
In the end, the chapter gets more serious, noting that Russias efforts to modernize its military “aims to blunt our strategic and operational edge,” particularly by designing and fielding new missiles “to threaten or intimidate our NATO allies.”
Interestingly, China – another habitual threat for Western strategists – is mentioned only once, in a brief sentence which says Beijing is “investing heavily in new capabilities, as well as more conventional ones.”
Another notable part of the paper relates to reviving the Net Assessment Unit, a Defense Ministry division in charge of assessing threats to the UK during the Cold War. Disbanded during the years of perestroika, it will make a comeback to see “how the capability choices of both friends and foes may play out over the short, medium and long-term.”
After all, the UK strategy is not the only example allowing one to believe that Cold War-era thinking is alive and well in British strategists minds. In late-November, Gen. Mark Carleton-Smith, a new chief of the General Staff, said Russia “indisputably” poses a greater threat to Britain and its allies than Islamists groups such as Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov lashed out at Carleton-Smiths views at the time, saying: “Thats the worldview of a country that has spelt out its right to use force arbitrarily regardless of UN Security Council resolutions.”
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