Former spy warns of Russia threat to UK
Russia has become a threat to Britain and the government must be prepared to take steps to defend itself and its allies, including in the Baltic region, the former chief of spy agency MI6 has said.
Sir John Sawers, who recently retired after five years as chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, told BBC that Russia poses a “state to state threat”. Russia’s threat was “not necessarily directly to the UK but to countries around its periphery”. He said: “[Russia] keep on reminding us that they have nuclear weapons. The one level in which Russia and America are equals is at the nuclear level.
“Now we don’t want to have a repeat of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 where we got to the brink of nuclear war. We need to be able to address this through increased dialogue.”
His comments come after a year of fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian separatists. “We shouldn’t kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy because it isn’t,” Sir John said. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been widely accused of fomenting a bloody rebellion in eastern Ukraine -- an accusation he denies. Fighting in Ukraine followed Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March last year. Almost 5,800 people have died and at least 1.25 million have fled their homes, according to the UN.
Sir John said the UK needed to prepare to take defensive measures for itself and the nation’s allies, which include the Baltic states and central Europe. The Baltic states are three northern European countries east of the Baltic Sea - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
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