The UK’s top national security adviser has warned that the world is closer to a nuclear war than ever before, noting it was avoided during the Cold War because global superpowers understood one another decades ago in a way they simply don’t today, according to media reports.
“We are entering a dangerous new age of proliferation,” said Sir Stephen Lovegrove, singling out Russia and China and the “daunting prospect” of an increase in the number and types of nuclear weapons. during his talk at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington.
"What is happening in Ukraine is a manifestation of a much broader contest unfolding over the successor to the post-Cold War international order,” Lovegrove said.
“It will decide whether we live in a world in which regionally-aggressive powers such as China and Russia can pursue ‘might is right’ agendas unchecked – or a world in which all states can ensure their sovereignty, competition does not spill over into conflict.”
“During the Cold War, we benefited from a series of negotiations and dialogues that improved our understanding of Soviet doctrine and capabilities – and vice versa.
“This gave us both a higher level of confidence that we would not miscalculate our way into nuclear war,” he said.
“Moreover, the Cold War’s two monolithic blocks of the USSR and NATO – though not without alarming bumps – were able to reach a shared understanding of (military) doctrine that is today absent.
“Doctrine is opaque in Moscow and Beijing, let alone Pyongyang or Tehran.”
Russia’s continued reassurances that it had no plans to invade Ukraine proved worthless.
“Confidence and trust grow when states are open about their military capabilities and plans.
“That is why governments can report every year their national military spending to the UN, as well as their recent weapons transfers.
“I’m afraid is there any clearer example of the collapse of these mechanisms than the invasion of Ukraine?”
“Strategic stability,” he said, needed to be reset to ensure there was “no collapse into uncontrolled conflict”.