The head of the British army has said that Russia poses more threats to the UK than the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
General Mark Carleton-Smith said on Saturday that Russia was using whatever it could to harm the interests of Western countries, including Britain.
“The Russians seek to exploit vulnerability and weakness wherever they detect it,” Carleton-Smith said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, adding that Britain “cannot be complacent about the threat Russia poses”.
The remarks are the most pointed at Russia from Britain since relations deteriorated in March with the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the southern English city of Salisbury.
London accused Moscow of ordering the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Russian authorities have consistently denied the accusations, even after London released images showing two suspected members of Russia’s military intelligence service GRU travelling to Salisbury in March.
Senior officials in Moscow maintain that the attack on Skripals was an attempt by British intelligence services to further target Russia at a time the ruling Conservative government is experiencing a fall in its popularity.
Carleton-Smith, who was appointed in June as Britain’s Chief of the General Staff, said when it came to threats against Britain’s national security, Russia was “indisputably” a bigger threat than Daesh and al-Qaeda.
“Russia has embarked on a systematic effort to explore and exploit Western vulnerabilities, particularly in some of the non-traditional areas of cyber, space, undersea warfare,” he said.
Russian embassy in London said the 54-year-old military commander was out of touch when dealing with global security threats like Daesh, which is also called ISIL.
“Army chief doesn’t care about ISIL? Great global strategic vision!” said the embassy in a tweet posted after Carleton-Smith’s interview.