The British chief of defence staff on Sunday called on the UK government and its allies to be cautious of threats by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Admiral Tony Radakin warned against any unnecessary and irrational reactions to the Russian leader’s threats relating to Western sanctions against Moscow following its war on Ukraine.
“We’ve got to maintain a calmness and responsibility so (that) we don’t just react rashly to whatever is the latest, frankly at times, bizarre or ridiculous comment from President Putin,” Radakin said in an interview with BBC News.
“We are prepared, we will also be incredibly confident in our ability to face down President Putin,” Radakin added, emphasising the UK’s membership in NATO, the world’s largest nuclear-armed military alliance.
Also read: Putin tells Ukraine to stop fighting amid new ceasefire calls
The senior Royal Navy commander said it is not yet known as to whether Putin would use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, but argued there would be “warning signs” of a possible nuclear conflict.
According to Radakin, the British government is communicating with Moscow, and Downing Street has an open and direct line to the Kremlin’s operational headquarters.
The admiral recently used the line to request a meeting with his Russian counterpart Valery Gerasimov but has yet to receive a response.
Skepticism over Russian response to cease-fire proposals
British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab expressed skepticism about Russian cease-fire proposals in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol after reported allegations of breaches by Russian forces.
He pointed out Putin’s track record of false promises and commitments, the most recent of which was his denial of any preparations to invade Ukraine.
Also read: Putin threatens Ukraine 'statehood' as Moscow sanctions tighten
“I am very skeptical about any assurances or commitments that President Putin makes. Of course, we want to do everything we can, we should exhaust all our opportunities to try and provide humanitarian relief,” Raab told the BBC.
“You only have to look at his track record in Syria to see that we need to be very careful to test any assurances that Vladimir Putin gives,” he added.
Raab made clear that Putin’s initial plans for the invasion have “stuttered” and that the UK should maintain a stranglehold on Russian banks and other entities that are bankrolling Putin’s “military machine.”
Russia’s war on Ukraine has been met by outrage from the international community with the EU, UK, and US, among others, implementing a range of economic sanctions on Moscow.
At least 351 civilians, including 22 children and 41 women, have been killed, and 707 others injured in Ukraine since Russia launched a war in the Eastern European country on Feb. 24, according to UN figures, with the real toll feared to be higher.
More than 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, the latest data by the UN refugee agency showed.