UK armed forces chief: Communications with Russia should be stronger

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin says he enjoys a close relationship with Ukraine's commander-in-chief

For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only BBC handout photo of Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, Chief of the defence staff, appearing on the BBC1 current affairs programme, Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg. Picture date: Sunday September 18, 2022.
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The head of Britain's armed forces has called for more “regular communications” with Russia to avoid hyperbole in the West’s relationship with Moscow, as a wave of Russian attacks pitched multiple Ukrainian cities into darkness.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, who lasted visited Moscow in February, just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said in an interview with daily The Telegraph that he has maintained contact with the head of Russia’s armed forces, Valery Gerasimov, despite worsening UK-Russia relations.

“I would like them to be even more regular communications. I’d like them to be even stronger, even though they might be difficult conversations. There are relationships that are still continuing. How can we make the most of them?” he said in the interview published on Saturday.

Admiral Radakin has been sanctioned by Iran but not Russia.

He highlighted Russia’s “respectful” response to the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8. Russian President Vladimir Putin immediately sent a telegraph to her son King Charles, wishing him “courage and perseverance.”

Admiral Radakin said it was important to keep such channels of communication open.

“The danger is you get so wrapped up in [the current situation] you can keep exaggerating. You need to analyse, but not overanalyse and also try and be balanced,” he said.

Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu inspected Russian troops involved in Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, the defence ministry said on Sunday.

The ministry said in the statement that Mr Shoigu spoke with troops “on the front line” and at a “command post.” However, it was not immediately clear when the visit took place or if he had visited Ukraine itself.

The announcement comes a day after Russia's President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with the country's top brass, including Mr Shoigu, seeking proposals on how they think Russia's military campaign in Ukraine should proceed.

Admiral Radakin said that he keeps a strong relationship with other defence leaders, particularly Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, Gen Valery Zaluzhny.

“I penned him a [Christmas] note and gave him a bottle of his favourite whisky: Glenmorangie. I had a nice message back from him yesterday. He is in the thick of it,” said Admiral Radakin, who has visited Kyiv three times this year.

Ukraine has suffered from large-scale power outages in recent days after Russia unleashed a volley of missiles on Friday. Mr Zelenskyy said the strikes hit power and water supplies in Kyiv and 14 regions.

Updated: December 18, 2022, 11:13 AM