A report leaked to the Times newspaper says that the British army would be “vulnerable” in the battlefield against Russia and that Russian President Vladimir Putin would have a “significant capability edge” in state-on-state warfare.
The Times revealed the report, which was produced by the British army, on Wednesday. It warns that the UK and its NATO allies are “scrambling to catch up” with Russia, which enjoys significant advantages in pretty much every key aspect of warfare.
Specifically, the report explains how Russia’s arsenal of weapons — which includes rocket launchers and advanced air-defence systems — are much more powerful than what Britain’s military has at its disposal.
Even major developments Britain has planned will not match up to Russia’s firepower. A planned £3.5 million ($4.6 million) fleet of lightly armoured vehicles will be “disproportionately vulnerable” to Russian rocket fire in a warfare scenario.
It is not just physical warfare in which Moscow has a clear edge, the report says. Russian intelligence has mastered the art of hacking and disturbing radar signals, meaning the effectiveness of British and NATO weaponry and aircraft operated using GPS navigation is under serious threat.
British soldiers could be under threat on social media, too. The leaked report warns that military personnel ought to leave devices like mobile phones and iPads behind when going on exercises, as they could be hacked by Russian intelligence.
The paper was based on research into the tactics Russia has used during its conflict with Ukraine. It sets out numerous strategies and weapons that British military must quickly learn to counter.
This study will be the cause of serious concern for Prime Minister Theresa May. It says Britain has spent the 21st century focusing on counterinsurgency operations against terrorist groups in the Middle East, for example, but as a result has fallen well behind when it comes to being prepared for state-on-state warfare.
“In the unlikely event of a direct confrontation between Nato and RUS, we must acknowledge that RUS currently has a significant capability edge over UK force elements,” the report says.
May recently spoke with Putin on the phone for the first time since she replaced David Cameron as prime minister, according to the BBC. Both leaders expressed “dissatisfaction” with current UK-Russia relations and vowed to work toward an improved relationship.