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Poland-Belarus migrant crisis: UK 'must be ready for war with Russia'

We must be ready for WAR with Russia, warns the head of Britain’s armed forces: General Sir Nick Carter says ‘weaponised’ migrants being used by Belarus are straight out of ‘Russian playbook’

  • General Sir Nick Carter warned war with Russia is an increasing possibility 
  • Belarus migrants crisis could escalate into ‘something really serious’, he said
  • Sir Nick said crisis is out of ‘Russian playbook’, pinning blame on Kremlin 
  • But he added that Putin is unlikely to use military means to get what he wants, despite US warning he could be preparing to invade Ukraine 

Britain must be ready for war with Russia, the head of the Armed Forces warned yesterday.

With UK troops sent to Poland last week, General Sir Nick Carter said he feared the situation on the Belarus border, where thousands of migrants are trying to cross into Europe, could escalate into ‘something really serious’.

Belarus has been accused of sending migrants towards Europe in revenge for EU sanctions, with the support of Russian president Vladimir Putin. 

Moscow has also been building up troops on the Ukraine border, sparking fears of an incursion. Chief of defence staff Gen Sir Nick said the situation in Eastern Europe was straight out of the ‘Russian playbook’.

General Sir Nick Carter, head of Britain’s armed forces, said the UK must be prepared for war with Russia as the situation in eastern Europe rapidly deteriorates 

Thousands of migrants are massed on the border between Poland and Belarus, a situation dictator Alexander Lukashenko is accused of orchestrating by luring them there

Polish border guards and soldiers stationed in the region have accused their Belarusian counterparts of trying to provoke a confrontation

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned: ‘The UK will not look away’. Poland yesterday called on Nato to take ‘concrete steps’ to resolve the migrant build-up. 

Warsaw, with leaders in neighbouring Lithuania and Latvia, was said to be close to activating an action in the alliance to bring members to the table for emergency talks.

Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he was working to invoke Article 4, in which any Nato country can request movement from fellow members if threatened.

Mr Morawiecki called for the EU to help fund a border wall, saying: ‘We need concrete steps and the commitment of the entire alliance.’

Asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show if he was worried it could quickly escalate into ‘something really serious’, Gen Sir Nick said: ‘I think I am. 

‘I think we have to be on our guard and make sure deterrence prevails and critically we have to make sure there is unity in the Nato alliance and we don’t allow any gaps to occur in our collective position.’

After ex-MI6 officer Christopher Steele said Russian leaders believe they are ‘at war’ with the UK and its allies, the general told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday: ‘In a way I think he’s right. 

‘The question, of course, is how you define war and I, as a soldier, would tend to define war as the actual act of combat and fighting, and I don’t think they want that. I think they want to try and achieve their objective in rather more nuanced ways.’

Up to 4,000 migrants, many from the Middle East, have spent more than a week on the Belarusian side of the border, with Polish authorities reporting attempts to breach the divide daily.

Belarusian soldiers have been accused of breaking holes in Poland’s fence to let them slip through. There were also claims of Minsk arming migrants with tear gas, bright strobes to distract guards and stones and rubble to use as missiles. On Saturday 50 got into Poland near Starzyna village before being detained.

Ahead of the unveiling of more EU sanctions on Belarus today, Poland was braced for another border push.

Interior minister Mariusz Kaminski said a rumour was being spread among migrants that today Poland would let them in and coaches from Germany would pick them up. ‘A provocation is being prepared,’ he said. 

The Polish government sent a text to all foreign mobile phones on the border saying: ‘It’s a total lie and nonsense! Poland will continue to protect its border with Belarus.’

Miss Truss wrote in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday of Belarusian president Lukashenko ‘using desperate migrants as pawns’. 

But defying Western anger, Mr Lukashenko boasted: ‘If someone thinks that Lukashenko or Belarusians will flinch, then this will not happen.’

In Russia, Mr Putin told journalists he was ready to help resolve the migrant crisis on the border.

Belarus says the migrants are legitimate asylum seekers who should be admitted to the EU, while Poland says they were lured to Belarus before being pushed to the border

Belarus border guards hand out logs to migrants waiting near the border, with numbers swelling into the thousands in recent weeks

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