Putin ‘tempted to use or lose’ military arsenal as UK-Russia tension escalates

Russia: Jets heard flying over UK vessel in Black Sea clash

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President Putin has amassed a vast arsenal of weapons that he will be tempted to “use or lose”, Express.co.uk was told. It comes as Russia warned the UK it would respond resolutely to any further provocative actions carried off the coast of Russia-annexed Crimea. The Royal Navy’s HMS Defender sailed some 12 miles off Crimea’s coast.

Dramatic footage from the ship showed Russian fighter jets, a ship and the coast guard coming within close proximity of HMS Defender, which was sailing from Odessa in southern Ukraine to Georgia.

It passed south of the Crimean peninsula which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 in a move that has not been recognised internationally.

Russia claims the waters as its own.

But the UK says the ship was passing through Ukrainian waters in a commonly used and internationally recognised transit route.

Under Mr Putin, Russia has built a sprawling military power for itself; one that has an expiration date, according to Professor Julian Lindley-French, an internationally recognised strategic analyst and adviser in defence.

The veteran analyst has recently co-authored a book, ‘Future War’, exploring how the US and Europe might consolidate their military forces in the face of increasing threats from the likes of Russia and China, as well as handling new and cutting edge techniques of conflict.

He said such is the extent of Russia’s weaponry that it might be tempted to use it if the international and domestic conditions force Mr Putin’s hand.

Prof Lindley-French told Express.co.uk: “One of the things that concerns me about the Russia armed forces and the Russia build up at the moment is that they’ve invested a huge amount of resources in building and modernising their armed forces.

JUST INRussian warship ‘fires shots at Royal Navy ship’ in Black Sea

“But the thing about modernising armed forces is that there comes a point when they’re modern, and there comes a point when they’re obsolescent.

“For an autocracy like Russia the temptation is always to use the force when it’s at its peak, and that’s [the] threat that we’re moving towards the climax of the Russia military modernisation programme.

“The temptation will be at some point to use it or lose it because the West will respond, and when we respond we will always be more capable of developing modern armed forces.”

The Russian Armed Forces are one of the largest military operations in the world, comprising around one million action duty personnel.

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It has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, with its budget in 2020 listed at around $61.7billion (£43bn).

After the tensions in the Black Sea, Russia summoned the British ambassador in Moscow for a formal diplomatic scolding.

Ambassador Deborah Bronnert was given what is known as a “tough demarche”, diplomatic language for a telling-off.

Russian spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused London of “barefaced lies”.

Elsewhere, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added: “We believe it was a deliberate and premeditated provocation.

“In the event of a repeat of unacceptable provocative action – if those actions go too far, no options can be ruled out in terms of legally defending Russia’s borders.”

In response to Russia’s claims that a border patrol boat fired four shots at HMS Defender and that a Su-24M warplane dropped four bombs close to the ship, Britain said the country was misleading what actually happened.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “As is routine, Russian vessels shadowed [the ship’s] passage and she was made aware of training exercises in her wider vicinity.”

The Black Sea has been an epicentre for global powers to exert their power for centuries.

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