The UK Conservative Party is seeking to draw the royal family into the campaign against Russia, the Russian Embassy in London said, commenting on The Mirror's reports that Prince Harry will take part in one of Britain’s biggest 12-week long war games against a Russian invasion.
"Apparently, the authority of politicians and generals is no longer enough to ensure public support for this policy", the embassy stated.
Although the 34-year-old Duke of Sussex left the Armed Forces in June 2015, he will join some 1,000 Marines in Norway in order to “protect” Europe’s northern flank in the event of military strikes by Moscow, The Mirror wrote, citing military and Royal sources.
“Prince Harry will be totally immersed in the exercise, and he will be privy to top-secret battle plans. It will be high-tempo, extremely realistic and his involvement is good news for the Marines, who will see his involvement as a very positive message of encouragement to the Corps. They are the main force who will protect Europe’s northern flank in the event of a conflict, the tip of the spear, and it is important Harry is among the troops”, a senior military source told publication.
Prince Harry, who served in Afghanistan, reportedly told his confidants that he was thrilled to be back in the military fold:
“The duke is relishing his role with the Royal Marines and taking it extremely seriously. His grandfather Prince Philip carried out his duty with the Marines with such distinction, which Harry particularly admired. Throughout his military career, Harry always had the greatest of respect and admiration for the Marines and he has always been fascinated by their valour and courage”, a Royal insider said.
The Royal Marines left for Norway on New Year’s Day from their base at Bickleigh Barracks in Devon. According to the media outlet, 8,000 troops will be involved in the exercise, including soldiers from Europe and the US.
Tensions between Russia and the UK have been simmering since London accused Moscow of staging the poisoning attack on former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury last March. Moscow has consistently denied the allegations, emphasising that the whole case was falling apart due to a lack of evidence.
In early October, the British government also alleged that the GRU was behind a series of cyberattacks on political institutions, media outlets, and infrastructure across the globe, including the UK. Russia dismissed the accusations as a crude disinformation campaign, stressing that London has failed to corroborate its claims.
Most recently, Williamson deployed HMS Echo, a Royal Navy Ship, to the Black Sea in order to show London’s “solidarity” with Ukraine in the wake of a naval incident in the Kerch Strait, when three Ukrainian warships violated Russia’s maritime border. While Williamson said that the move was a response to Russia’s “intensifying threats and aggression”, the Russian Embassy in London accused the secretary of instigating Kiev to new military provocations.