Russia ‘preparing for war’ against Britain and Nato as Ukraine conflict escalates

 A leading European think tank has said a Russian military exercise in March demonstrated that Russia “is actively preparing for a conflict with Nato”.Russia and Nato could be gearing up for armed conflict

The European Leadership network also claimed a similar exercise by Nato in June indicated that the two powers were training their forces to get to grips with each other’s strengths and military plans.

Spokesmen for Nato and Russia said the operations were designed with “hypothetical opponents” in mind.

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The warning came just a day after defence secretary Michael Fallon warned the Russian separatists in Ukraine could seize more territory, and that the “red hot” conflict was set to escalate.

But the minister, who is currently in Ukraine, dismissed claims of an imminent war with Putin’s Russia – but said he could not see an end to the conflict “any time soon”.

He said: “Russia is continuing to test Nato’s resolve, but we have shown we are standing firm.”  Defence Secretary Michael Fallon

Defence Secretary Michael FallonGETTY
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon
However, Fallon added: “Seven thousand people have already died in the Ukraine, right on the doorstep of Europe, as Ukraine fights for its freedom.

“This is not a frozen conflict, it’s still red hot.

Rebels this week launched their most intense artillery bombardments of Ukrainian government strongholds for six months, authorities said.

The defence secretary yesterday announced that Britain is to expand its programme of “non-lethal” assistance to train Ukraine’s armed forces to deal with improvised explosive devices and mines.

There are currently 75 British military trainers in the country, and 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers have so far been supported by their presence.

Fallon said the mission – which works alongside four other Nato forces – aims to train 2,000 further troops by the end of the year.

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