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Britain’s army chief warns risk of accidental war with Russia is greater than during Cold War

<i>Steve Parsons/PA Images/Getty Images</i><br/>General Nick Carter warned politicians against provoking unnecessary escalation.
PA Images via Getty Images
Steve Parsons/PA Images/Getty Images
General Nick Carter warned politicians against provoking unnecessary escalation.

By Duarte Mendonca, CNN

The risk of an accidental war breaking out between Russia and the West is greater than at any time during the Cold War, Britain’s most senior military officer has said in an interview with Times Radio.

“I just think that we’re in a much more competitive world than we were even 10 or 15 years ago. And I think the nature of the competition between states and great powers, leads to greater tensions. And I think that tension is the thing that one needs to watch for,” Gen. Nick Carter, chief of the UK defense staff, said in an interview due to air on Sunday according to a news release sent to CNN.

Carter compared the current situation with previous times in his military career since 1978. “When you and I were growing up, it was a bipolar world. Two blocs: Soviet Union and the West. We then went into a period where it was unipolar, and the United States was entirely preeminent,” he told journalist Tom Newton Dunn.

“And I think we are now into a period where it’s more multi-polar, and I think in a multi-polar world with people competing for different objectives and on different agendas, there’s a greater risk of tension leading to the sorts of things that we are talking about,” the general said.

Carter warned politicians against provoking unnecessary escalation and to be “careful that people don’t end up allowing the bellicose nature of some of our politics to end up in a position where escalation leads to miscalculation.”

“Many of the traditional diplomatic tools and mechanisms that you and I grew up with in the Cold War; these are no longer there. And without those tools and mechanisms there is a greater risk that these escalations or this escalation could lead to miscalculation. So I think that’s the real challenge we have to be confronted with,” the general said.

Asked whether he believes Russia is involved in the migration crisis at the EU-Belarus border, the general said he didn’t know, but that “nothing would surprise” him.

“Because I think that the modern environment, and this changing character of conflict and warfare that I’ve described, opens up the possibilities for people to use all manner of different tools and tactics and techniques to try and get after our cohesion,” he added.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has denied any involvement in the border crisis, saying on Saturday that his country had “nothing to do with it.”

“I want to tell you something else. I want everyone to know. We have absolutely nothing to do with it. Everyone is trying to impose responsibility on us for any reason and for no reason at all,” Putin said in the interview with state-owned news channel Russia 24.

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