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World entering era more dangerous than Cold War, former MI6 boss warns

Sir John Sawers says the West needs to recognise balance of power has changed because Russia and China have become more powerful

Published 12/10/2016

Sir John Sawers was head of MI6
Sir John Sawers was head of MI6

The world is entering an era that is “more dangerous” than the Cold War because of an increase in Russian military power, a former MI6 chief has said.

Sir John Sawers has said the West needs to recognise the balance of power has changed in the world because Russia and China have become more powerful than they were in the past.

“We are moving into an era that is as dangerous, if not more dangerous, as the cold war because we do not have that focus on a strategic relationship between Moscow and Washington,” he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Sir John also attacked Boris Johnson’s call for protests outside the Russian Embassy in London. He said such protests over Syria could put the Foreign Secretary’s own diplomatic staff in Moscow at risk.

After Mr Johnson called for protests outside the Russian embassy in the Commons, Sir John said: “We all have to be a little bit careful and mindful of the security of our embassy in Moscow when we think about calling for demonstrations here in London.

“We all recall what happened to our embassy in Tehran three or four years ago.

“I don’t think that would happen in Moscow but we need to be careful about the consequences of things that we call for.”

He also claimed the worsening crisis in Syria was a direct result of Britain’s decision “not to engage” in the civil war back in 2013 under David Cameron.

“We vacated the theatre and the Russians have moved in,” he said. “It certainly was a mistake. Chemical weapons were being used against civilians in Damascus by their own regime.”

“I’d certainly like to see demonstrations outside the Russian embassy,” Mr Johnson told the Commons. “Where is the Stop the War Coalition at the moment? Where are they?”

Stop the War vice chairman Chris Nineham said his organisation would not support a protest outside the Russian embassy.

He said: “There’s a very good reason for this, because we can make a difference to what Britain does, we can make a difference to what our allies do to a certain extent and we have done.

“But, if we have a protest outside the Russian embassy, it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference as to what Putin does because we are in Britain and we are in the West.

“And, not only that – a protest outside the Russian embassy would actually contribute to increasing the hysteria and the jingoism that is being whipped up at the moment against Russia.”

Independent News Service

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