UK general doubts a World War III over Ukraine

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin appears confident of NATO’s strength

Mounting tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine do not mean that World War III is imminent, according to Admiral Tony Radakin, the Chief of Defence Staff of the United Kingdom.

Sky News recorded an interview with Radakin on the 80th anniversary of the 1944 Allied landings in Normandy. It was pre-recorded and aired on Monday, so the admiral had not been aware of the US and other NATO member countries approving the use by Kiev of their donated weapons to strike deep inside Russia.

“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin does not want a war with NATO. Putin does not want a nuclear war. And we have enormous overmatch because of the strength of NATO,” Radakin told Sky.

He downplayed talk of the potential for an imminent global conflict, however. 

“We’ve got to be very careful that we distinguish between the really severe and deep threats in the late 1930s and then how we entered into a world war, and not use loose language that we’re somehow on the cusp of a world war now,” Radakin advised, adding that “the world’s got a bit more dangerous. But we should be reassured by all that we’ve got in place.”

“Constant escalation” by NATO, however, could lead to “serious consequences,” President Putin said last week, suggesting that the US-led bloc might be pushing for a global conflict. On Monday, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Ryabkov outright warned the US against “miscalculations that can lead to fatal consequences.” 

“For some unclear reason they underestimate how serious a response they could face,” Ryabkov told reporters in Moscow, urging US policymakers to spend more time considering Putin’s words instead of “wasting it on computer games.”

Radakin assumed the role of Chief of Defence Staff, the professional head of the UK’s armed forces, in November 2021, replacing General Sir Nick Carter after he had voiced concerns about a possible conflict with Russia. According to British and Ukrainian media, he has been helping Kiev make plans for attacking Russian targets in the Black Sea. 

In his Sky News interview, Radakin admitted that Russia “is making tactical advances on land,” but claimed that Moscow intended for the conflict to be over in three days. Asked whether Ukraine could endure and succeed, he said he was “hugely confident” of it.

“It’s a war of economies. It’s a war of logistics. It’s a war of industrial production. it’s a war of political will,” Radakin told the UK outlet.