Government ignored warnings about Putin’s ‘march to war’ for 10 years

Government ignored warnings about Putin’s ‘march to war’ for 10 years, says ex-UK defence official.

In scathing remarks, Mr Scott said the warnings were “subjugated” to the City of London – and making sure financial capital remained a “safe haven for corrupt wealth”.

Is our defence safe in Tory hands? – Owl

Adam Forrest www.independent.co.uk

The UK government consistently ignored warnings that Vladimir Putin could wage war in favour of welcoming Russian money into London, Britain’s former defence attache to Moscow has claimed.

Retired air commodore Carl Scott said he and others warned of the “inevitability of conflict in detail, regularly” during his period in Russia between 2011 to 2016.

The former defence official said Putin’s “long, dark march to war was obvious”, having pointed out many pronouncements from the Kremlin about conflict ahead.

In scathing remarks, Mr Scott said the warnings were “subjugated” to the City of London – and making sure financial capital remained a “safe haven for corrupt wealth”.

In a letter to the Financial Times, he said the Russian president’s aims were “never concealed”, having instigated “colossal” militarisation, control over the media and clampdowns on dissent.

The former attache stated: “The list is remorseless, the consequences could not be ignored. But they were … We reported the inevitability of conflict in detail, regularly and with the despair of Cassandra.”

Mr Scott also said Brexit “emboldened” Putin’s regime. “It was not until I returned to the UK on the eve of our withdrawal from the EU, a manoeuvre which greatly emboldened those in Moscow, that I understood how our society had changed in the years I was serving overseas.”

The retired defence official added: “All was subjugated to the City, all served the interests of our lucrative status as a safe haven for corrupt, and corrupting, wealth. The values we were demanding of other nations had long since faded from our own actions.

“I despair at the decisions Putin has taken, but even more at the prospect of finding credible leadership at home in the UK among those who have compromised so long with his regime and the wealth it offered.”

Boris Johnson’s government has joined allies in imposing punishing economic sanctions on Russian banks and other crucial parts of the economy. But MPs have urged ministers to go further on individual sanctions aimed at targeting Putin’s cronies.

Doubts have been raised about the effectiveness of sanctions after a billionaire hit by an asset freeze earlier this month said he had already handed ownership of UK mansions over to trusts.

A spokesperson for Alisher Usmanov told the BBC and The Guardian that most of the businessman’s British properties and his yacht were “transferred into irrevocable trusts”.

Rachel Davies, Transparency International’s head of advocacy, recently told The Independent that oligarchs were using shell companies registered in Britain’s crown dependencies and overseas territories to hide their wealth in London.

MPs and campaigners are worried that the Economic Crime Bill rushed through parliament last week could still allow some wealthy property owners using overseas companies to hide behind trusts.

It comes as MPs warned that sanctions against Russia will come at a cost to the UK and the poorest households will be hit hardest.

A report by the Treasury select committee revealed the UK is not protected against the economic impact of unprecedented sanctions on Russian oil and gas and that soaring prices will intensify the cost-of-living crisis.

The cross-party group of MPs said the impact on the UK is a “cost worth bearing” to help Ukraine in fighting for its freedom and to damage Russia’s ability to fund the war.