The former head of the Royal Air Force (RAF) has claimed that Britain is too weak to stand up to a military attack from Russia. Another British official has said that if Putin attacked the UK he would “saturate our defences”.
This comes just days after Russian Bear Bomber planes flew over English airspace in what looks to be a return to Cold War times.
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Russia’s Defense Ministry said the flight was a planned air patrol conducted in accordance with international law.
While Prime Minister David Cameron rebuffed the incident as Russia “trying to make some sort of point,” Graydon believes the threat is more serious.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said: “I very much doubt whether the UK could sustain a shooting war against Russia. We are at half the capabilities we had previously.”
“They fly in these regions to check our air defenses and have probably worked out we are not as sharp as we were.
“They know it is provocative and they are doing it at a time when defense in the West is pretty wet compared to where they are,” he added.
Air Commodore Andrew Lambert echoed Graydon’s comments, claiming the UK “couldn’t cope” in the event of a Russian attack.
Lambert, who commanded RAF planes patrolling the Northern No Fly Zone over Iraq in 1999, told the Daily Mail: “If the Russians turned up the heat, we would struggle badly.”
“If Putin wanted to attack, he would not send a pair of bombers, he would send the lot and saturate our defenses; we couldn’t cope,” he said.
“The Typhoon is a really good aircraft but with their relatively small numbers they would be overwhelmed: the Russians would outflank us, go around us or just go through us.
“The modern generation of politicians has grown up in absolute security – they’ve never felt a threat to their existence, safety or security. They’ve taken peace for granted and decimated the Armed Forces. Let’s hope we don’t pay the price,” he added.
The RAF’s interception of Russian bear bombers on Thursday follows a similar event in January, when two Russian Bear bombers flying close to UK airspace were intercepted by RAF Typhoons.
The UK Foreign Office summoned the Russian ambassador at the time to lodge a complaint about the flight of Russian military jets over the English Channel, which authorities claimed posed a danger to passenger aircraft.
However, no details were given to prove how the bombers posed a danger.
Russia’s Defense Ministry issued a statement on its Facebook page describing Thursday’s flight as “planned air patrols.”
Two TU-95 ‘Bear’ bombers took off from Engels airbase on a flight path which took them above “neutral waters in the Barents and Norwegian seas of the Atlantic Ocean,” according to the statement.
Total flight time was 20 hours and the patrol was “conducted in strict accordance with international rules on the use of airspace over neutral waters without violating the borders of other states.”