The warning comes when Liz Truss urged Russia to intervene in the “shameful crisis of artificial migrants” on the border between Belarus and Poland
The outgoing chief of the British armed forces has urged Britain to “be on guard” in the face of current tensions between Russia and Eastern Europe.
General Sir Nick Carter, who has served as Chief of Defense since 2018, said he was “concerned” about the current situation as a migrant stalemate had developed on the border between Russia’s ally Belarus and Poland.
Thousands of migrants and refugees, mainly from Iraq, Syria and parts of Africa, are encamped in icy conditions on the Belarusian side of the border with Poland, hoping to get into the EU.
Official estimates suggest that eight people, including a 14-year-old boy, have died on the border after exposure to sub-zero temperatures.
The EU claims that Belarusian authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko promoted illegal border crossings in retaliation against the bloc’s sanctions against his government for brutal crackdown on domestic protests following the controversial 2020 elections. Brussels wants to impose new sanctions on Belarus.
Lukashenko denies the allegations but said his government will no longer prevent refugees and migrants from entering the EU.
Foreign Minister Liz Truss called on Russia to intervene in the “shameful artificial migrant crisis” and said the country had a “clear responsibility” to de-escalate the situation.
Russia and Belarus have a trade union agreement that promises close political and military ties, and Russia has strongly supported its ally in the border dispute with Poland.
Vladimir Putin is accused of fueling the spreading migratory crisis and “arming” migration against the EU.
Britain has sent a small number of troops to Poland to try to defuse the situation.
But Sir Nick told the BBCs The Andrew Marr Show he fears that the situation could escalate into something “really serious”.
“This is a classic case of some kind of hybrid playbook where disinformation is linked to destabilization,” he said.
“The idea of pushing migrants to the borders of the European Union is a classic example of this.”
He added that Britain “stands behind Poland” in the situation – after Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko asked Russia to send him nuclear missiles to be within range of Poland and Lithuania.
It comes amid US warnings that Russia is ready to invade Ukraine after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was “concerned” about “unusual Russian activities”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskiy has said that almost 100,000 Russian soldiers are near the Ukrainian border
In 2014, Russia illegally annexed Crimea, raising fears that Russia might try to amass more land on its eastern land borders.
Sir Nick said, “When you look at the two things together, trouble in the Northwest and around Ukraine, this is a classic example of maybe a bit of a distraction going on.”
And when the BBC asked if the situation could turn into a hot war, he replied, “I don’t know”.
The general added: “We need to be vigilant and deterrent, but above all we need to make sure that the NATO alliance is united and that we do not allow any gaps in our common position.
“If you look at NATO as a whole, it is the most powerful military alliance in the world.
“Whether it goes that far [into war] I specifically hope not. But we all have to remember that we are there to deter. ”
Ms. Truss has called on the Kremlin to intervene in the migrant crisis, where hundreds are trying to cross the EU border every day.
Registered mail the Sunday telegraphshe said: “Russia has a clear responsibility here.
“It must urge the Belarusian authorities to end the crisis and start a dialogue.”