General Nick Carter 'kept awake at night by fear of war with Russia'

Head of the armed forces General Sir Nick Carter says he’s kept awake at night by fear of war with Russia in Black Sea

  • Chief of Defence Staff’s concerns came after warning shots were fired at HMS Defender by Russian forces in contested waters off  Crimea coast this week
  • Gen Carter, 62, said incident was example of where a miscalculation could come from ‘unwarranted escalation’
  • British Type 45 destroyer sailed within 12-mile limit of Crimea near Cape Fiolent in Black Sea
  • Russia claims it as its own territory but the West sees it as international waters

The head of the UK’s armed forces said he is suffering sleepless nights due to his fear of war with Russia following this week’s clash in the Black Sea.

General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of Defence Staff, spoke of his concerns at the Chalke Valley History festival today after warning shots were fired at HMS Defender by Russian forces in contested waters off the Crimea coast on Wednesday.

The military chief, 62, said the incident was an example of where a miscalculation could come from ‘unwarranted escalation’, according to The Times.   

‘The thing that keeps me awake in bed at night is a miscalculation that comes from unwarranted escalation. 

‘The sort of thing we saw in the Black Sea [earlier this week] is the sort of thing it could come from,’ General Carter said.

The head of the UK’s armed forces, General Sir Nick Carter (above), said he is suffering sleeping nights due to his fear of war with Russia following this week’s clash in the Black Sea

General Carter spoke of his concerns at the Chalke Valley History festival today after warning shots were fired at HMS Defender by Russian forces in contested waters off the Crimea coast on Wednesday. Above, an image released by the Russian defence ministry shows the SU-24s buzzing above the destroyer and lining the vessel up in its crosshairs

‘The thing that keeps me awake in bed at night is a miscalculation that comes from unwarranted escalation,’ said General Carter. Above, Russia released footage filmed from one of its Su-24M attack jets which showed HMS Defender sailing off Crimea – but not the moment it alleges shots were fired and four bombs were dropped

Above, HMS Defender conducts close proximity sailing while on maritime operations in the Black Sea on June 17. The British Type 45 destroyer had sailed within the 12-mile limit of Crimea near Cape Fiolent in the Black Sea which Russia claims as its own territory but the West sees as international waters

‘It wouldn’t have done on that occasion but it’s the type of thing one needs to think quite hard about,’ he added. 

The British Type 45 destroyer had sailed within the 12-mile limit of Crimea near Cape Fiolent in the Black Sea which Russia claims as its own territory but the West sees as international waters. 

Russia claimed to have shot at HMS Defender, and to have dropped four bombs from an Su-24M warplane in waters ahead of the Royal Navy vessel. 

Britain has denied the Russian version, and insists HMS Defender was either in Ukrainian or international waters at all times. 

General Carter, who has spent four years leading the armed services, said the dispute between the two nations was a ‘classic example of the battle of the narratives’, adding: ‘The jury is out as to who won that battle.’ 

After the flashpoint – which saw 20 Su-24s buzzing over the Royal Navy vessel – Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov warned: ‘What can we do? We can appeal to common sense, demand respect for international law. 

‘If this does not help, we can bomb not only in the direction but also on target, if our colleagues do not understand.

‘I warn everyone violating the state borders of the Russian Federation under the slogan of free navigation, from such provocative steps, because the security of our country comes first.’

General Carter, who has spent four years leading the armed services, said the dispute between the two nations was a ‘classic example of the battle of the narratives’, adding: ‘The jury is out as to who won that battle.’ Pictured, a crew member scans sea for Russian activity on board the vessel on Tuesday when the incident occurred

Backing up his comments, the Kremlin said Moscow that would respond harshly to any similar actions in the future and warned against any further ‘provocations’.

Despite their warnings, British minister George Eustice said ‘of course’ Royal Navy ships will continue to sail through the disputed waters around Crimea, saying: ‘We never accepted the annexation of Crimea, these were Ukrainian territorial waters.’

Meanwhile Britain’s Chair of the Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood, admitted there is a prospect of an engagement flaring up with Britain’s ‘dangerous game’ of sailing in disputed waters.

It was the first time since the Cold War that Moscow acknowledged using live ammunition to deter a NATO warship, reflecting the growing risk of military incidents amid soaring tensions between Russia and the West, as Ukraine’s foreign minister appealed for further NATO help.

But Britain’s Foreign Secretary said: ‘No shots were fired at HMS Defender. The Royal Navy ship was conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters. 

‘We were doing so in accordance with international law and the Russian characterisation is predictably inaccurate.’

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