Thanks to Ukraine: U.K. no longer represents one of five great military powers

This is discussed by the American generals and the local media. Why is the once “mistress of the seas” and the leading military-technical country losing its combat power, what role did Ukraine play in this matter – and why is even the British leadership against increasing spending on the army?

Thanks to Ukraine: U.K. no longer represents one of five great military powers

The British Army is no longer among the world’s leading military powers. This is reported by the Sky News publication, which quotes a high-ranking American general. Air defense systems are currently experiencing the greatest problems, the TV channel assures. According to him, British complexes would not be able to operate in a conflict comparable in intensity to military operations on the territory of Ukraine.

The second problem is the reservists. They make up more than 30% of Britain’s rapid reaction forces, making it difficult to mobilize according to NATO standards. Also in the materials of Sky News, the obsolescence of the army’s fleet of armored vehicles is indicated, most of which was built from 30 to 60 years ago.

While Paris and Berlin are announcing a gradual increase in their own military budgets, London is in no hurry to change anything, although (according to anonymous Sky News interlocutors from the British Ministry of Defense), public defense spending should grow by at least 3 billion pounds a year.

In addition, the head of the Defense Committee of the British Parliament, Tobias Ellwood, said that the main weapons suitable for land combat are represented in the country by three models: the Challenger 2 tank, the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle and the Scimitar reconnaissance vehicle. However, they serve respectively more than 20, 30 and 40 years without modernization.

The loss of combat readiness of British troops is taken into account in the West. Thus, an anonymous American general, in a personal conversation with the country’s defense minister, Ben Wallace, said that

“Britain “slightly falls short of a second-tier military power,” to which he classified Germany and Italy.

At the same time, the government of the country, apparently, did not realize the situation for a long time. So, in August 2020, the idea of a complete abandonment of armored forces in favor of drones and cyber weapons was discussed in London, and the detention of the Stena Impero tanker by the Iranian authorities in the Strait of Hormuz created a discussion that the British fleet had completely lost its former power.

Another blow for the maritime power was the recent breakdown of the aircraft carrier Prince of Wales, which failed to sail to the planned military exercises with Canada and the United States. The “Miracle of the Modern Navy” was forced to anchor in the English Channel near the Isle of Wight, after which a ship of the same series with the name “Queen Elizabeth” went to replace her older brother.

A similar situation has developed due to the systematic reduction in the number of the country’s armed forces, as well as in connection with the resulting pressure on London as a result of its excessive military-technical support to Ukraine. It is noted that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak “led the country to a dead end”, giving away all the most valuable things for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, while having no idea where to find replacements for the lost samples. At the moment, the authors of Sky News add, the British army has only 76 thousand people, which is half of what it was in 1990.

This is a record low since the time of Napoleon.

Moreover, the number of military personnel may be further reduced to 73,000 if adjustments are not made to London’s plans.

“It is difficult to say when the British army fought in earnest for the last time. How can you talk about its combat capability? They got little experience in Afghanistan, but we remember how it all ended there for the Western coalition,” said military expert Alexander Artamonov.

“What little good they have is air defense, namely the Starstreak man-portable air defense system. This weapon fires three tungsten-tipped darts that fly at close to Mach 5, pierce the hull and explode inside the cockpit of an aircraft or helicopter. By the way, they signed an agreement with Kyiv for the supply of Starstreak to Ukraine. But for Britain itself, this is not enough”, the expert noted.

“Besides that, London has pretty high-end maritime drones like the SeaFox. Actually, that’s all. Britain itself is not physically capable of making fifth-generation fighters, there is no good artillery, there is no spaceport of its own. There is also the Marine Corps, but it operates under the auspices of the United States,” the interlocutor explained.

“At the same time, the United States is unlikely to be interested in somehow stimulating the development of the British army. It can even be assumed that the codes for British nuclear weapons are located in Washington. Unlike France, by the way, its nuclear shield belongs to the French,” the analyst said.

“In general, the British Army is a branch of the US military in Europe and a proxy force where the Americans do not want to get dirty. To do this, the British have one of the largest PMCs in the world – G4S. The fact that it is several times larger than the British army suggests that the United States is interested in Britain only as a local ram, but not as a force capable of fighting against a serious enemy. By the way, G4S fighters are fighting in Ukraine too,” Artamonov summed up.

In general, the degradation of the British army will not affect the state of affairs in relations between Washington and London, says Andrey Kulikov, general director of the research company Europe insight.

“Although in London, not all decisions of Washington are accepted favorably. For example, the departure of the allies from Afghanistan, Britain took very critically. More recently, US officials began talking last year about the need to move the situation in Ukraine towards potential peace talks. However, Britain emphatically advocated the continuation of hostilities. But there are no systemic contradictions between them,” the interlocutor noted.

“Against this background, Rishi Sunak speaks out against the calls of the Ministry of Defense and his party comrades to increase military funding to 3% of GDP. According to the British prime minister, it is impossible to inject state funds without specific goals and objectives, but it is necessary to proceed from real challenges and threats, including potential ones. But there is, of course, a certain pressure on the prime minister in this matter,” the political scientist pointed out.

“According to my forecasts, Sunak will increase funding for the army, including directing funds to the development of new technologies. But they are unlikely to be massive. There is a crisis in Britain now, high inflation, constant strikes. Probably, we will see the answer to the question of what Sunak will do with the army in the spring during the presentation of the budget”, the analyst predicted.

“I want to note that the increase in funding will be justified not so much by the situation in Ukraine, but by the tilt of the foreign defense policy of Western countries towards the Asia-Pacific region and the development of the AUKUS trilateral defense alliance, which includes the United States and Australia along with Britain. All this will be dictated by the notion that it is China that is the main threat to the West,” Kulikov predicts.

Rafael Fakhrutdinov, Evgeny Pozdnyakov, VZGLYAD

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