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Britain’s top general warns of ‘reckless’ Russia threat

LONDON: Britain’s top military adviser accused Russia on Sunday of “reckless” behavior that violated international norms and risked sparking a war. Chief of Defense Staff General Nick Carter said Moscow was operating in a “grey zone” that weaponized information and used unattributable proxies in conflicts. He pointed to covert operations by the Wagner Group —…

Britain’s top general warns of ‘reckless’ Russia threat

LONDON: Britain’s top military adviser accused Russia on Sunday of “reckless” behavior that violated international norms and risked sparking a war.

Chief of Defense Staff General Nick Carter said Moscow was operating in a “grey zone” that weaponized information and used unattributable proxies in conflicts.

He pointed to covert operations by the Wagner Group — a private army the Kremlin denies funding — in Syria and Africa as well as disinformation campaigns as two types of new threats.

“Russia is much more assertive than it was 10 years ago. It’s got some self-confidence now as it reasserts itself as a global power,” Carter told BBC television.

“Cyber is part of that, what happens in space is part of that, disinformation, subversion, manipulation, assassinations, and of course the use of mercenaries, which are very easily undeclared and non-attributable,” he said.

“Reckless behavior and the lack of respect for international law relating to these new types of ‘weapons’ risks escalation that could easily lead to inadvertent miscalculation,” Carter separately wrote in The Sunday Telegraph.

Russian President Vladimir Putin flatly denies the Kremlin’s involvement in cyber and ground operations that Western intelligence agencies and analysts pin on Moscow.

But Carter said this “deniability” is a tactic now being perfected by Britain’s main foes.

His media appearances are timed to remind Britons of the challenges they still face on Remembrance Sunday — the day the country honors those who fought and died in World War I and subsequent conflicts.

It also comes with US President Donald Trump wavering on Washington’s commitment to the NATO military alliance and French President Emmanuel Macron promoting the idea of a European army.

Britain wants to preserve NATO as it prepares to leave the European Union after nearly 50 years.

“I have seen absolutely no evidence of any military planning to suggest that we are going to have a European army, and no declaration to that end has been made,” Carter told the BBC.

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Trump suggests he may give written testimony in House probe

SEOUL: North Korea has responded to a tweet by US President Donald Trump that hinted at another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying it has no interest in giving Trump further meetings to brag about unless it gets something substantial in return. The statement on Monday by Foreign Ministry adviser Kim Kye…

Trump suggests he may give written testimony in House probe

SEOUL: North Korea has responded to a tweet by US President Donald Trump that hinted at another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying it has no interest in giving Trump further meetings to brag about unless it gets something substantial in return.
The statement on Monday by Foreign Ministry adviser Kim Kye Gwan is the latest call by North Korea for US concessions ahead of an end-of-year deadline set by KimJong Un for the Trump administration to offer mutually acceptable terms for a deal to salvage nuclear diplomacy.
Kim Kye Gwan says Washington must discard what North Korea sees as its “hostile” policies to keep the negotiations alive.

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North Korea says it won’t give Trump a summit for free

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump suggested Monday he might be willing to offer written testimony in the House impeachment inquiry over whether he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden and his son as he withheld aid to the country.In a pair of tweets, Trump says he will “strongly consider” an offer by House Speaker Nancy…

North Korea says it won’t give Trump a summit for free

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump suggested Monday he might be willing to offer written testimony in the House impeachment inquiry over whether he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden and his son as he withheld aid to the country.In a pair of tweets, Trump says he will “strongly consider” an offer by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to testify before the House impeachment panel.Trump tweeted, “She also said I could do it in writing. Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!”Pelosi told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Trump could come before the committee and “speak all the truth that he wants.”

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France’s yellow vests stage new protests for anniversary

COLOMBO: Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who spearheaded the brutal crushing of the Tamil Tigers 10 years ago, stormed to victory Sunday in Sri Lanka’s presidential elections, seven months after Islamist extremist attacks killed 269 people.Rajapaksa conducted a nationalist campaign with a promise of security and a vow to crush religious extremism in the Buddhist-majority country following the…

France’s yellow vests stage new protests for anniversary

COLOMBO: Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who spearheaded the brutal crushing of the Tamil Tigers 10 years ago, stormed to victory Sunday in Sri Lanka’s presidential elections, seven months after Islamist extremist attacks killed 269 people.Rajapaksa conducted a nationalist campaign with a promise of security and a vow to crush religious extremism in the Buddhist-majority country following the April 21 suicide bomb attacks blamed on a homegrown militant group.His triumph will, however, alarm Sri Lanka’s Tamil and Muslim minorities as well as activists, journalists and possibly some in the international community following the 2005-15 presidency of his older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa.Mahinda, with Gotabaya effectively running the security forces, ended a 37-year civil war with Tamil separatists. His decade in power was also marked by alleged rights abuses, murky extra-judicial killings and closer ties with China.Gotabaya, a retired lieutenant-colonel, 70, nicknamed the “Terminator” by his own family, romped to victory with 51.9 percent of the vote, results from the two-thirds of votes counted so far showed.“I didn’t sleep all night,” said student Devni, 22, one of around 30 people who gathered outside Rajapaksa’s Colombo residence. “I am so excited, he is the president we need.”Rajapaksa’s main rival, the moderate Sajith Premadasa of the ruling party, trailed on 42.3 percent. The 52-year-old conceded the race and congratulated Rajapaksa.On Sunday three cabinet members resigned — including Finance Minister Mangalar Samaraweera.The final result was expected later on Sunday with Rajapaksa due to be sworn in on Monday. Turnout was over 80 percent.Premadasa had strong support in minority Tamil areas but a poor showing in Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese heartland, a core support base where Rajapaksa won some two-thirds of the vote.Saturday’s poll was the first popularity test of the United National Party (UNP) government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.Wickremesinghe’s administration failed to prevent the April attacks despite prior and detailed intelligence warnings from India, according a parliamentary investigation.Premadasa also offered better security and a pledge to make a former war general, Sarath Fonseka, his national security chief, projecting himself as a victim seeking to crush terrorism.He is the son of assassinated ex-president Ranasinghe Premadasa who fell victim to a Tamil rebel suicide bomber in May 1993.But Gotabaya is adored by the Sinhalese majority and the powerful Buddhist clergy for how he and Mahinda ended the war in 2009, when 40,000 Tamil civilians allegedly perished at the hands of the army.Under his brother, Gotabaya was defense secretary and effectively ran the security forces, allegedly overseeing “death squads” that bumped off rivals, journalists and others. He denies the allegations.This makes the brothers detested and feared among many Tamils, who make up 15 percent of the population. Some in the Muslim community, who make up 10 percent, are also fearful of Gotabaya, having faced days of mob violence in the wake of the April attacks.Under Mahinda, Sri Lanka also borrowed heavily from China for infrastructure projects and even allowed two Chinese submarines to dock in Colombo in 2014, alarming Western countries as well as India.Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Sunday that India looked forward to “deepening the close and fraternal ties… and for peace, prosperity as well as security in our region.”The projects ballooned Sri Lanka’s debts and many turned into white elephants — such as an airport in the south devoid of airlines — mired in corruption allegations.Unlike in 2015 when there were bomb attacks and shootings, this election was relatively peaceful by the standards of Sri Lanka’s fiery politics.The only major incident was on Saturday when gunmen fired at two vehicles in a convoy of at least 100 buses taking Muslim voters to cast ballots. Two people were injured.According to the Election Commission the contest was, however, the worst ever for hate speech and misinformation.

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