Russia poses a ‘direct threat’ to Britain and will be ‘vindictive’ if it loses the war in Ukraine, the outgoing head of the RAF has warned.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, 55, said Russia’s military was a threat to Britain and Moscow’s aggression would only get worse if Vladimir Putin was ousted.
Sir Mike said Russia would be ‘damaged’, ‘vindictive’ and ‘brutal’ with means of attacking Britain through ‘air attack, missile attack and subsurface attack’ once Ukraine has restored its borders.
His remarks are the first public acknowledgment from a Western military leader of the risk a humiliated Russia might pose to NATO countries after the war in Ukraine ends.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston (pictured), 55, said Russia’s military was a threat to Britain and Moscow’s aggression would only get worse if Vladimir Putin was ousted
Sir Mike said Russia would be ‘damaged’, ‘vindictive’ and ‘brutal’ with means of attacking Britain through ‘air attack, missile attack and subsurface attack’ once Ukraine has restored its borders
Sir Mike told the Daily Telegraph: ‘When the Ukraine conflict is over and Ukraine has restored its borders, as it must, we will have a damaged, vindictive and brutal Russia, whose means of harming us is through air attack, missile attack and subsurface attack.
‘There is a whole structure and a hierarchy behind Putin. So even if Putin was to disappear off the stage, there are countless others that could replace him that could be as equally as brutal and vicious to their own people and to neighbouring states.’
He added Russia would continue to be an ‘enduring threat’ to the UK and the Kremlin was prepared to wage a ‘brutal’ war in the name of Russian historical revisionism.
Sir Mike’s warning came after Russian missiles on Friday hit a medical clinic in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, killing at least two people, and as Russia blamed Kyiv for dozens of strikes on its southern Belgorod region.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the Ukraine conflict with China’s special envoy Li Hui, blaming Ukraine and Western countries for creating ‘serious obstacles’ to resuming peace talks.
In Belgorod in southern Russia, the governor said the Ukrainian military was responsible for dozens of artillery, mortar and drone attacks across the region but reported no casualties.
Russian missiles on Friday hit a medical clinic (pictured) in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, killing at least two people, as Russia blamed Kyiv for dozens of strikes on its southern Belgorod region
Pictured: The destroyed building of a medical facility, the site of a missile strike, in the city of Dnipro
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a video of smoke billowing from roofless buildings with blown-out windows after the attack that authorities said had left 30 people injured including two boys aged three and six.
The head of the regional military administration Sergiy Lysak said that Russia struck a residential area with a medical and veterinary clinic and high-rise blocks.
Zelensky said that by hitting civilian medical facilities, ‘Russian terrorists once again confirm their status of fighters against everything humane and honest.’
US Senator Lindsey Graham, on his third visit to Ukraine, condemned the attack as a war crime.
‘There was a hospital bomb today. Just over 500 medical facilities have been hit by the Russians. A war crime was committed while I was here, just one of many war crimes,’ he said.
The Russian defence ministry said that its strikes on Ukraine had targeted arms depots and that all the assigned targets had been hit.
Ukrainian journalists posted video footage of rescuers helping people with blood on their faces escape from the clinic through corridors full of rubble.
The attack came after Russian forces earlier this week targeted Dnipro in a late night strike with 16 missiles and 20 attack drones.
The industrial hub, which had nearly one million inhabitants before the war, lies around 78 miles from the current front line.
On Wednesday, Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, said Vladimir Putin has led Russia to abject failure with his invasion of Ukraine.
Far from demilitarising Ukraine – Russia’s key war aim – Putin’s botched strategy has seen Kyiv amass ‘one of the world’s strongest armies’ through massive Western supplies, Yevgeny Prigozhin said.
The Wagner chief was once considered a close ally and confidant of Russia’s tyrant and had been nicknamed Putin’s ‘chef’. But in the latest of his increasingly frequent outbursts, Prigozhin has given a devastating critique of his war strategy.
He then warned of impending ‘revolution’ in Russia unless changes were made by the Kremlin leadership.
In an astonishing attack on military leaders, he said Russia would restore the death penalty and the guilty – he named defence ministry Sergei Shoigu and chief of the defence staff Valery Gerasimov as responsible for the war crisis – would be ‘hanged on Red Square’.
Prigozhin blamed both Shoigu and Gerasimov for losing more men in Bakhmut than in the entire ten-year Soviet war in Afghanistan from 1979-89, which eventually led to the collapse of the USSR.
‘So the de-nazification of Ukraine, which we announced – we made Ukraine a nation, known to everyone around the globe,’ he said, mocking Putin’s warped purpose for going to war.
‘They are like Greeks at their peak, or Romans.’
He told interviewer Konstantin Dolgov – a prominent pro-war blogger: ‘We legitimised Ukraine, it became a country which is known to everyone.
‘As for de-militarisation… [this is] a painful issue indeed.
‘So if they had at the start of it 500 tanks – now they have 5,000. If there were 20,000 men who were able to fight – now there are 400,000. So how exactly did we demilitarise it?
Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin warned of impending ‘revolution’ unless changes are made by the Kremlin leadership
Prigozhin was once considered a close ally and confidant of Vladimir Putin but has given a devastating critique of war strategy in his latest outburst
‘Quite the opposite! We militarised it up to the brim.
‘I think Ukrainians today are one of the world’s strongest armies. They have high levels of organisation, training, military intelligence.
‘They have various ammunition and moreover, they are able to switch between any system – Soviet, Nato, anything at all – with the same success. They take their losses philosophically.
‘All they do is to achieve the supreme goal, just like us during the Great Patriotic War [Second World War].’