12:10 Sep. 19, 2016
Russia could deploy tens of thousands of troops within 48 hours, General Sir Richard Barrons told The Times
Britain and its NATO allies have no effective plan for defending Europe from a Russian attack because of splits within the military alliance, a recently retired military chief said last night.
Russia could deploy tens of thousands of troops into NATO territory within 48 hours, backed by warplanes and ships, whereas it would take NATO months to do the same, General Sir Richard Barrons said.
As a result, some land and control of airspace and territorial waters could be lost before NATO's 28 member states had even agreed how to respond, the former chief of Joint Forces Command warned.
The North Atlantic Council, the political decision making body of NATO, has the power to authorize the supreme allied commander Europe, NATO's top military officer, to draw up plans and training to prepare the alliance to respond to an attack. But this work had stopped after the Cold War because the threat had gone away.
Sir Richard said that there was no appetite for a revival even following the invasion of Ukraine and evidence that Russia has invested in new equipment specifically designed to outmatch NATO.
Countries that border Russia lobby hard for other member states to change their attitude but allies such as France, Greece, Italy, Hungary and to a lesser extent Germany would rather not offend Russia. They are generally too fixated on the problem of migration in the south and the connected terror threat to have time to think about Russian aggression.