As Anglo-Russian relations remain strained over the crisis in Ukraine, senior military officials have warned that Britain would not be able to defend itself in the event of a Russian attack.
The UK “could not cope” with an attack from Putin as the country’s defences have been “decimated” due to decades of cutbacks, military chiefs told the Daily Mail.
The warning comes after Russian fighter jets were spotted near the coast of Cornwall. RAF Typhoons were scrambled from their base in Lincolnshire to escort the two Russian Bear bombers further south, the latest in a number of incursions by Russian warplanes, ships and submarines.
David Cameron attempted to downplay the incident, saying: “I don’t think we should dignify it with too much of a response”. However, he did acknowledge that the Kremlin appeared to be “trying to make some sort of a point”.
He defended the country’s defence capabilities, saying the incident demonstrated that the military had the correct systems in place to protect the UK.
Air Commodore Andrew Lambert, who commanded forces in Iraq, disagreed with the Prime Minister. “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.”
Former RAF chief Sir Michael Graydon argues that the purpose of these Russian flight missions was to check Britain’s air defences and they 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 defence in the west is pretty wet compared to where they are,” he said.