Royal Navy admiral shrugs off fears over massive military exercise by Russia and ChinaÂ

BRITAIN'S former top sailor has dismissed concerns an unprecedented war game by Russia and China is a threat to the West.

Wednesday, 22nd August 2018, 1:47 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd September 2018, 12:14 pm
Russian heavy flamethrower system TOS-1 fires during the International Military Technical Forum Army-2018 in Alabino, outside Moscow, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. Russia has displayed its latest weapons at a military show aimed at attracting more foreign customers. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

The two eastern superpowers are combining to stage one of the largest military exercises in living memory in Russia.

The Vostok 2018 drills are set to begin in Russia's eastern regions at the end of the month and will include paratrooper and naval units.

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Admiral Lord Alan West, former First Sea Lord.

It will be the biggest war game in 40 years and the first time both China and Russia have united in an exercise of this scale.

Thousands of troops, alongside hundreds of ground vehicles, warships and fighter jets are expected to take part in the operation.

The news comes just days after Captain Jerry Kyd, commanding officer of Britain's biggest warship HMS Queen Elizabeth, admitted the '˜frightening' surge of Russian military activity had been '˜eye-watering'.

However, Admiral Lord Alan West shrugged off concerns that the latest move by Moscow and Beijing would be a concern to the western powers.

HMS Hurworth, which followed a Russian warship earlier this week. Photo: Royal Navy

Speaking to The News, the former head of the Royal Navy said: '˜I would monitor it very closely and see what comes out of it.

'˜But I can't see many occasions when China and Russia would share the same foreign policy stance '“ apart from not seeing America as a number one power.'

He continued: '˜I am interested to hear of the military exercises. I think Russia is schizophrenic about China. They are a big threat.

'˜They have an immense population and Russia looks very longingly at all that land, rich with mineral deposits.

'˜In the short-term, Russia is cosying up to China. It's more like the relationship Hitler and Stalin had before the Second World War and nothing more.'

This week sailors from the Portsmouth-based minehunter HMS Hurworth were called to shadow Russia's newest warship as it sailed through the English Channel.

The 4,000-tonne Admiral Makarov frigate which only joined the Russian fleet at the end of last year is the latest in a number of Russian warships to be watched over by the Royal Navy as they sail close to UK shores.

Hurworth was the latest Royal Navy vessel called to action, following similar patrols by patrol ship HMS Mersey, destroyer HMS Diamond and frigate HMS Montrose in the past two months.

Last week, Capt Kyd said the activity by the Russians in the Atlantic and around the British isles had been '˜eye-watering' in recent years.

Prior to setting sail from Portsmouth, the experienced naval officer said: '˜The increase in Russian activity we have seen in the last couple of years is frightening and for national security reasons it just underlines why we need to maintain a balanced, strong and able, capable fleet.'

On August 7, Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond sailed from Dover, Kent, to monitor the Russian destroyer Severomorsk and cruiser Marshal Ustinov.

At the beginning of the year, frigate HMS Westminster was dispatched to keep track of the activities of two Russian frigates and their support vessels returning to the Baltic after operations in the Middle East, while HMS St Albans monitored the new Russian warship Admiral Gorshkov at Christmas.

And in June, HMS Diamond and a Wildcat helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton were dispatched to follow the underwater reconnaissance ship Yantar after it approached the UK coast.