Britain has 'woken up' to Russian threat after 'taking our eye off the ball', head of Strategic Command reveals

BRITAIN is now wise to the threat from Russia after taking its "eye off the ball", a top military commander has claimed.

General Sir Patrick Sanders – head of Britain’s Strategic Command – revealed we let our guard down at the end of the Cold War.

He told the Telegraph the West “assumed our adversaries would see the world as we did” but “they didn’t”.

“We’ve woken up to that,” said Gen Sanders, who is in charge of cyber and special forces.

“In political warfare, you deploy all the levers of state power, overt and covert, to pursue your national strategic objectives," he said.

“We have all the history to do it…but we’ve fallen out of the habit and lost the muscle-memory since the end of the Cold War. We need to regain that.”

He also warned the level of cyber attacks and espionage aimed at the West is now soaring.


The General – who spoke in Estonia as he visited Nato troops – added it is now crucial to take the fight to our digital foes.

“Being eyeball to eyeball in cyberspace is hugely important because sitting behind metaphorical digital walls just doesn’t work,” he said.

However, the threat from the Kremlin is clearly not just online.

On Friday, we reported how Moscow is developing a secret new mini-sized hypersonic missile it claims can beat any defences.

Tests will start next year on the weapon codenamed Ostrota – or Sharpness – as Vladimir Putin accelerates his bid to outdo the West's firepower.

The latest missile, a smaller version of existing hypersonic rockets, will be deployed with supersonic Tu-22M3 bombers and Su-34 fighter-bombers.

It is equipped with a specially adapted ramjet engine “to break through any modern air defence systems”, reports pro-Kremlin paper Izvestia.

Separately, Russia has confirmed the first of four final tests on the deadly new Zircon hypersonic nukes will be in June, with all complete by the end of the summer. 

The 6,100 mph “unstoppable” cruise missile is on track to go into service next year.

Putin sees the lethal Mach 8 ship-launched Zircon as his weapon of choice to target US cities in the event of a nuclear conflict, it has been reported. 


On Thursday, the Russian leader warned foreign foes he will "knock their teeth out" if they dare to try and "bite" off parts of his powerful country.

In a hard-hitting conference call with Kremlin officials, the punchy world leader also pointed to what he called historic efforts to "contain" Russia.

"In all times, the same thing happened: once Russia grew stronger, they found pretexts to hamper its development," he said, alleging some critics have argued it's unfair for Russia to keep its vast natural riches to itself.

"Everyone wants to bite us or bite something off us, but those who would like to do so should know that we would knock their teeth out so that they couldn't bite," he said.

Putin then chillingly added: "The development of our military is the guarantee of that."

Russia has made the modernisation of its armed forces a top priority amid tensions in relations with the U.S. and its allies.

Russia-West ties have sunk to post-Cold War lows over Moscow's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, accusations of Moscow's meddling in elections and hacking attacks.

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