In October, Russia sent a monstrous fleet of submarines past UK waters into the Atlantic Ocean in what defence analysts described as a direct challenge to the US, reported Express. Then in November, a similar submarine challenge was made near Scotland, as nuclear fast attack submarines twice staged underwater ‘duels’ while also testing NATO defences between Scotland, Iceland and Greenland in the Atlantic, Moscow reports claimed.
Former Admiral and now Labour peer – Lord Alan West – has warned that a mixture of British Defence cuts and a lack of weaponry has emboldened Russian military to challenge the UK.
He told Express.co.uk: “I think we have to ask the question: ‘why is it the Russians with their new submarines are travelling through the Greenland-Iceland gaps and off the west coast of Scotland?’ – which they are doing on a scale not seen since the Cold war.
“The prime aim of theirs is to find our ballistic missile submarines. Why would they do that? It’s very worrying.
“That makes them much less keen to come over here when they know we have one of our attack submarines sitting on their tail ready to sort them out if they try to do anything silly.”
Lord West believes due to the UK’s lack of hard power in the form of weapons, the risk of accidental conflict is only getting higher.
He continued: “I think everyone will accept that the world is more chaotic and dangerous today than it has been since the Fifties. The way you make yourself secure and prevent wars, is having hard power but we have let that slowly whittle away.
“Therefore we aren’t able to ensure stability, and someone like Putin who understands hard power, sees this purely as a weakness and he does this risky business of pushing and prodding, I don’t think he wants a war but it could happen by mistake because we are not strong enough.
“The lack of hard power makes people who are autocrats think ‘oh well, they aren’t really serious’ so they push, and the danger then is that they will then do something that tips things over the edge, and suddenly you’ve got a war even though nobody wants it.”
He also criticised both major parties in the general election campaign, claiming the Conservative Party had not prioritised defence because it wasn’t a vote winner.
He said: “The Conservatives want to keep their heads below the parapet, defence is the last thing the Government wants to be a big issue to be debated in this election. It’s not a vote winner, it’s only a vote winner when suddenly there is a war and we are about to be defeated.
“The Tories don’t seem to acknowledge that there have been reductions to defence that are considerably more than there have been in any other area, and these have been going on for some years.”
He also expressed concern regarding Jeremy Corbyn due to his previous opposition to Trident, as well as his previous associations with Hamas militants.
He said: “It seems his default position is to side with terrorists, with people like Hamas and Hezbollah, rather than side with our own agencies and military. That is historically what he has done.
“I have severe doubts about Jeremy Corbyn because clearly he doesn’t agree with the Trident nuclear deterrent, and I believe he is a unilateralist and that is extremely worrying.
“To be fair, the manifesto says they will keep Trident, but that’s because the unions have forced him to hold back from unilateralism.”
The Labour manifesto promised that the party was committed to maintaining defence spending of at least 2% of GDP and supported the renewal of Trident.
A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “Thanks to the Conservatives, the UK is one of the only NATO members to meet the target of spending 2 percent of GDP on defence. And we announced an additional £2.2 billion for defence in the Spending Round.”