МОСКВА, 15 сентября 2021, Институт РУССТРАТ.
The strategic nuclear forces of Britain are represented by a squadron of Vanguard-type nuclear submarines. The squadron has four such submarines. Three of them, as a rule, are constantly on alert. At the same time, two of them are on combat duty at the Clyde Naval Base in Faslane, in Scotland, and another one is on combat patrol in the North-East Atlantic. The fourth submarine is undergoing either planned or major repairs, or modernisation.
According to the Financial Times, Britain is facing problems with the deployment of its nuclear arsenal. This is due to the possible holding of a referendum on independence and separation from the United Kingdom in Scotland. At the same time, there is a high probability that now the Scots will vote for independence.
Therefore, the British Ministry of Defence has developed several options for relocating its strategic nuclear submarines. The US naval base Kings Bay in Georgia and the base of French nuclear submarines on the Île Longue Peninsula near the port city of Brest are also being considered as possible locations.
These options are the cheapest, because they do not require additional investments in the necessary infrastructure. It is estimated that it may take about 15 billion pounds and 20 years to build a new base.
At the same time, the Financial Times writes that the deployment of a national nuclear shield outside the country does not look very good from the outside, because it makes arise a question about Britain’s sovereignty over its strategic nuclear forces and defence in general. However, this is a rather superficial view of this issue.
The main armament of the strategic nuclear submarine is 16 launchers with American Trident II D5 intercontinental ballistic missiles. According to publicly available information, Trident II D5 ballistic missiles for British submarines are leased from the United States. These missiles are loaded at the US Navy’s Kings Bay Naval Base. In addition, it is American specialists who carry out authorship and warranty supervision and are responsible for the maintenance of missiles.
Another important detail: a US Navy officer with a code for launching Trident II D5 ballistic missiles is on a British strategic submarine during a combat patrol.
Thus, Britain cannot launch a nuclear strike from its strategic nuclear submarines without US sanctions. It can be stated that from the point of view of strategic nuclear deterrence, Britain is completely devoid of independence and is able to act only in close conjunction with the United States and under its full control.
Let me remind you that in March 2021, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, by order of the Queen, presented a comprehensive review of security, defence, development and foreign policy for the period up to 2030, “Global Britain in the Era of Competition”. This document defines Britain as “a European country with global interests and as an open economy and a maritime trading nation with a large diaspora”.
However, in August 2021, the defeat of the United States and its NATO allies in Afghanistan was recorded. And the withdrawal of American and allied troops from Afghanistan marked the beginning of Washington’s geopolitical retreat.
The beginning of the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq is scheduled for October 2021. It should be understood that the US military contingent in Syria is very tightly tied to the military contingent in Iraq. Therefore, the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq will inevitably lead to the withdrawal of American troops from Syria over time. The US allies will also have to withdraw their troops from these countries, since they are not capable of independent combat operations in this region.
Interestingly, the geopolitical retreat of the United States caused the greatest state of shock precisely among the British political establishment. It is obvious that there can be no “Global Britain” without a global gendarme in the person of the United States. Only under the cover of Washington’s political, military and economic power could London play its global game. And now the bluff was revealed.
The feeling of the collapse of hopes, the disappointment of the British elite was so strong that irritated British politicians did not hesitate at all in their expressions when describing the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Thus, members of the British House of Lords accused US President Joe Biden that “he has just made China the most powerful superpower in the world.”
The Lords stated: “The US’ decision to leave in such a way will have terrible consequences. This sends a signal to terrorists and rogue states that the West can be defeated. This sends a message to our friends that, in the end, they can be abandoned”.
It should be understood that the British are quite clearly aware that Britain also may find itself among the abandoned friends of the United States in a certain situation. This is also confirmed by Biden appointing Germany as the closest ally of the United States. This implies the fact that the further actions of the former mistress of the seas in the external arena will be fraught with significant risk and will rely mainly on their own strength. And the strength is just not enough.
London, of course, can promote its interests in the world, relying on the enormous experience of colonial management, on age-old ties and intelligence capabilities. However, earlier, until the beginning of the twentieth century, it all relied on the appropriate armed forces, ready to carry the burden of the Empire to the conquered masses.
Now this is far out of the question. And every sane player that Britain pulls into its combination can ask what military guarantees it can provide. It turns out that there are none, since it does not even control its own strategic nuclear forces.
Thus, the geopolitical retreat of the United States has buried the hopes of the British establishment for the “Global Britain” project. In the current conditions of the international situation, this concept of London has turned into an impossible dream.