The world is facing a wider conflict with ‘adversaries around the globe’ and Russia, China and African extremists all posing a risk, Ben Wallace warns
- Ben Wallace warned the world is facing a wider conflict by the end of the decade
- Defence Secretary pointed to risk posed by Russia, China and African jihadists
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today warned the world is facing a wider conflict as a range of adversaries around the world – from Russia to China – pose a threat to our future safety.
Wallace said by the end of the decade, the world will be a ‘more dangerous, unstable place’ in his starkest warning yet that there could be a World War Three.
He warned that a ‘conflict is coming’, pointing to how there could be a wider conflict between NATO and Russia in the future as well as the threat posed by a ‘rising China’ and African extremists.
‘By the end of the decade, the world will be a more dangerous, unstable place and defence will be more critical to our lives,’ Wallace told The Financial Times.
‘I think a conflict is coming, whether it’s hot or cold is to be seen… I think a conflict is coming with a range of adversaries around the world… We need to be all prepared for it.’
The defence secretary’s stark warning came as he urged Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to set a firm date for when the UK’s military spending will be raised from 2.1 per cent to 2.5 per cent of GDP.
Wallace’s warning echoes that of United Nations chief Antonio Guterres and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who have said separately that the world is now facing a convergence of challenges ‘unlike any in our lifetimes’.
G7 leaders are meeting in Japan today to tackle those challenges, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the rising tensions in Asia.
There are fears that the fighting in Ukraine could spin out of control and become a war between NATO and Russia, with Moscow repeatedly accusing Western allies of effectively becoming party to the conflict by providing Ukraine with weapons, training its troops and feeding military intelligence to attack Russian forces.
And there are also concerns of a renewed conflict in Asia as relations with China deteriorate.
Western leaders are increasingly concerned about what they see as Beijing’s growing assertiveness, and fear that China could try to seize Taiwan by force, speaking a wider conflict. China claims the self-governing island as its own and regularly sends ships and warplanes near it to intimidate those living there.
During the G7 Summit, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also hopes to highlight the risks of nuclear proliferation during the meeting in Hiroshima, the site of the world’s first atomic bombing.
The prospect of another nuclear attack has been crystalized by nearby North Korea’s nuclear program and spate of recent missile tests, and Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons in its war in Ukraine.
China, meanwhile, is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal from an estimated 400 warheads today to 1,500 by 2035, according to Pentagon estimates.
And in West Africa’s Sahel region, extremist violence is spreading south toward the coastal states.
Surging jihadi violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group that’s killed thousands, displaced millions and plunged countries into crises.
While most of the extremist activity is concentrated in West Africa’s inland Sahel region in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, the violence is rapidly spreading to coastal states like Ghana, which is experiencing an upsurge in attacks by unidentified groups, which could have links to jihadis.
Northern Ghana had just one violent incident connected to an unidentified armed group in 2021 but that figure rose dramatically to 19 in 2022, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.
It comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr is poised for a first post-invasion trip to the Asia-Pacific, with the leader set to meet allies at the G7 summit in Hiroshima
The previously unannounced visit was revealed by officials on Friday – a rare long-haul foray for the war-time president and an opportunity to huddle with leaders of seven wealthy democracies that bankroll his country’s stoic defence.
The visit comes at a potentially pivotal time in the 15-month-old conflict, as Ukrainian troops push back against Russian gains at Bakhmut and ready a long-awaited spring offensive.
Top Zelensky security aide Oleksii Danilov said the Ukrainian leader would go ‘wherever the country needs him, in any part of the world’, including Hiroshima, a city synonymous with the horrors of war.
‘Very important things will be decided there, and therefore the presence, the physical presence of our president is absolutely essential to defend our interests,’ Danilov said.
An informed source in Hiroshima said that Zelensky was now expected to appear in person, though the timing of his arrival remained unclear.
The trip will also give Ukraine’s president an opportunity to win over powerful unaligned nations, including Brazil and India, whose leaders have also been invited.
Zelensky recently embarked on a European tour, pleading for military support like modern US-made fighter jets, as well as tougher sanctions on Russia.