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Russia issues warning over Defence Secretary’s military base expansion plan

In November, Nato members carried out a huge military exercise in Norway to simulate an attack on an ally.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson (Peter Byrne/PA)
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson (Peter Byrne/PA)

The Kremlin has warned that it “reserves the right to adequate retaliatory actions” if it deems post-Brexit British Army bases mooted by the Defence Secretary pose a threat to Russia or its allies.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said suggestions that the UK might build new military facilities around the world were “destabilising” and “provocative”.

Gavin Williamson caused a stir in December when he suggested Britain could establish new military bases in the Caribbean and Far East as part of a bid to become a “true global player” after the UK leaves the EU.

The Defence Secretary said that the 1960s policy of withdrawal from regions “east of Suez” had been ripped up as the UK takes the opportunity to “recast” its role on the global stage.

In comments reported by the Kremlin-backed Tass news agency, Ms Zakharova said Mr Williamson’s suggestion was “bewildering”.

“Amid the mounting military and political tension in the world in general and the efforts being taken by the responsible members of the international community for peacefully resolving crisis situations, the statements on the intention to build up military presence in third countries are of counter-productive, destabilising and frequently provocative nature,” she said.

“Naturally, if any measures that create a threat to the security of Russia and its allies are implemented, our country reserves the right to adequate retaliatory actions.”

The Kremlin’s warning comes after relations between the UK and Russia sank to among their lowest levels since the Cold War following the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

In November, Nato members carried out a huge military exercise in Norway to simulate an attack on an ally.

However, concerns have been raised over what effect Brexit may have in terms of the UK’s future security relationship with its European neighbours and Britain’s standing on the world stage.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph in late December, Mr Williamson said Britons should be “much more optimistic about our future as we exit the European Union”.

He said: “This is our biggest moment as a nation since the end of the Second World War, when we can recast ourselves in a different way, we can actually play the role on the world stage that the world expects us to play.

“For so long – literally for decades – so much of our national view point has actually been coloured by a discussion about the European Union.

“This is our moment to be that true global player once more – and I think the armed forces play a really important role as part of that.”

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