NATO General Adrian Bradshaw Warns Russian Tensions Could Lead To ‘Hybrid Warfare’

Britain’s top general in NATO, Adrian Bradshaw, has asserted that tensions with Russia could escalate into an all-out conflict, warning against the possibility of covert, “hybrid” warfare taking place in Europe.

Bradshaw, who acts as deputy commander of NATO forces in Europe, asserted that Russian President Vladimir Putin could possibly use his military to seize territory belonging to NATO members if he believes that the alliance is too frightened to respond. Speaking at the Royal United Services’ Institute, Bradshaw noted the risk of subversion and irregular warfare being used as tools against NATO, in an attempt to paralyze the alliance’s decision making process.

“The threat from Russia, together with the risk it brings of a miscalculation resulting in a strategic conflict, however unlikely we see it as being right now, represents an existential threat to our whole being.”

The general pointed to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea as an example of “hybrid warfare,” in which propaganda is used in conjunction with non-uniformed soldiers in an attempt to hide the true extent of a nation’s involvement. Such a tactic could be used to subvert NATO’s 28 member states, intentionally undermining their ability to come to a consensus in regards to a response. NATO currently believes that as unrest began in the Ukraine, Russian soldiers in unmarked uniforms were sent into the region in an effort to reinforce separatists, a charge Russia denies.

Bradshaw asserted that Russia may also use conventional forces, coupled with the brinksmanship that characterized the Soviet era, in an effort to seize NATO territory. Over the last year, he warned, Russia has demonstrated its ability to marshal forces along its boarders quickly. While such forces could be used for “intimidation and coercion,” they also may have a role to play in seizing NATO territory. The fear of escalation, Bradshaw said, would then be used to prevent “re-establishment of territorial integrity.”

“This use of so called escalation dominance was of course a classic Soviet technique,” he remarked.

British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has also recently spoken out about Russian aggression, calling the country’s military spending “clearly worrying.” Despite Western sanctions and an economic downturn, Russia’s defense budget rose by a third this year. Echoing General Bradshaw’s concerns, Fallon asserted Russia continues to test the strength of NATO forces.

[Image via Xinhua/Omid]