Russia could invade Europe within 48 hours, warns ex-military chief

General Barrons claimed Russia could deploy warplanes, ships and troops within hours 

Rebecca Flood
Monday 19 September 2016 12:50 BST
Tensions between Russia and Nato have escalated in recent months
Tensions between Russia and Nato have escalated in recent months (Getty)

A former NATO chief has warned Europe could be at the mercy of an imminent attack from Russia with no defence plans to repel an invasion.

General Sir Richard Barrons claimed Russia could deploy warplanes, ships and troops on European soil within 48 hours if it desired, with NATO some months away from an effective counter-strike.

The former chief of Joint Forces Command warned that the failure of countries such as France, Germany and Italy to take the threat of Russian aggression seriously could lead to a loss of land, sea and airspace.

Countries bordering the country, led by president Vladimir Putin, are concerned about the threat from their neighbour, not a priority for southern and central states.

The majority of the EU bloc is focussed on the heightened terror threat and migration crisis gripping the continent.

A Russian officer dodges bullets live on TV after praising Syria’s cease-fire

This is despite Moscow investing in new state-of-the-art equipment set to rival NATO’s arsenal.

“If you list all the military capability that Nato has, it has a lot more than Russia, but because most of it exists in this semi-dormant state there is a window of opportunity where . . . Russia could use its smaller forces to tweak Nato in a way to which Nato would be very pressed to respond because it doesn’t have any plans to do that.

“In the absence of consensus, largely between the north, the centre and the south, it drops down to the lowest common denominator and not much will happen.” Sir Barrons told The Times.

Russia’s recent annexation of Crimea and military exercises in Ukraine earned it international condemnation, but its provocative behaviour has been unable to galvanise NATO into forming a credible opposition plan against a possible Russian invasion.

There is a proposal to base roughly 1,000 troops in each of the Baltic states and Poland, but the move was criticised for lacking any real military backing, nor outlining any clear rules of engagement should Moscow strike.

But the plans were dismissed by Sir Barrons as a mere window dressing, saying it lacked real “force and resilience”.

Britain is leading the Baltic deployment.

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