UK at 'risk' of 'tiptoeing into proxy war with Russia', warns former top security adviser

24 March 2022, 18:51 | Updated: 24 March 2022, 23:30

By Daisy Stephens

A former national security adviser has told LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr that the UK is at "risk" of "tiptoeing into fighting a proxy war" with Russia.

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The UK has supplied thousands of weapons to Ukraine since Russia invaded a month ago.

When Andrew asked Lord Peter Ricketts - former UK national security adviser and former Permanent Representative to Nato - whether the UK was "tiptoeing into fighting a proxy war" that might make Nato a target for Putin, Lord Ricketts said the UK's aid had so far been "extremely effective" but warned Nato could be approaching a "dangerous zone".

"I think that is a risk, yes, and so far actually it's been extremely effective, I think," he said.

"We've equipped Ukrainian forces with modern western weapons, they've used them very bravely and very effectively, and they've really dented the Russian advance if not stalled it completely.

"But I do agree, I think there's a line beyond which if we start supplying fighter jets or tanks - I see President Zelenksyy was calling for that - you know, heavy, armoured equipment of that kind, at some point or other there is a risk that Russia will bomb a convoy taking that equipment into Ukraine, or possibly even - at the worst - bombing it whilst still in Nato territory.

"I think there is a dangerous zone there whereas small, light, man-portable missiles and so on - very effective, and perhaps a bit less of a risk of that."

Lord Ricketts said he did not believe the west was ready for a war against Russia.

"Are we going to go to war with Russia over chemical weapons use in Ukraine?" He questioned.

"I personally don't think so.

"I don't think the west is prepared for all-out war with Russia.

"So Western leaders are left struggling for words which imply very serious consequences without saying what."

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The former Nato representative also said the defensive alliance would not use chemical weapons against Russia, despite comments made by US President Joe Biden.

"I have to start by asking you about something extraordinary," said Andrew.

"[Biden] has just said in a press conference.

"He was asked what the reaction of Nato would be to the use of chemical weapons by Russia and he said that would trigger 'a response in kind'.

"Please reassure me he was misspeaking?"

Lord Ricketts said: "I think I can reassure you, Andrew.

"I cannot believe he meant that Nato would respond with chemical weapons against the Russians.

"We don't have chemical weapons in our armouries. We gave them up decades ago.

"I think he meant we would respond in a serious way, at the level of the awfulness of a chemical weapons attack."