Macron orders EU to fuel Tory civil war in plot to force Boris to scrap Brexit plan

President Emmanuel Macron wants the European Union to target splits within the Conservative Party to force the Prime Minister to drop his Internal Market Bill. He believes the row over whether Ministers should be able to scrap EU rules in Northern Ireland as part of the fix to avoid a hard border after Brexit could be used as “leverage” in the bid to force Mr Johnson to climbdown. French Europe minister Clement Beaune insisted Brussels should issue a take-it-or-leave it ultimatum to MPs, forcing them to choose between a trade deal with the bloc or the Prime Minister’s legislation.

He said: “I am excluding nothing for the moment. We will see the parliamentary and political context in the UK in the coming weeks.

“I do not want to give a signal of pressure. But on the other hand, it is clear that we cannot put in place an agreement on the future relationship if the Withdrawal Agreement has been called into question.

“There Europe has some leverage. If at the end of the year, if we have an agreement on the future relationship and we are ready to ratify it at European and national levels, but the Withdrawal Agreement has been called into question… well, obviously, we cannot go forward.”

At a meeting of European affairs ministers, the bloc will resist any attempts to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement.

They are expected to encourage Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, to continue trade talks with Britain while separately eurocrats ponder legal action.

Germany has called on Mr Johnson to “stop playing games” as post-Brexit negotiations enter a crunch period.

Europe minister Michael Roth said: “Please dear friends in London stop the games time is running out what we really need is a fair basis for further negotiations and we are ready for that.”

The German added: “The so-called Internal Market Bill is extremely worries us because it violates the guiding principles of the Withdrawal Agreement and that’s totally unacceptable for us.”

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said the EU expects “nothing more, nothing less” than Britain to fully implement the divorce deal before the end of the year.

He said: “The EU believes in calm, constructive cooperation through the channels created through the Withdrawal Agreement.

MUST READ: Brexit LIVE: EU backs down from talks threat – Macron plea ignored

European leaders will discuss the bitter wrangling over a trade deal with Britain when they meet in Brussels later this week.

Mr Barnier is expected to travel to London tomorrow to hold talks with Lord Frost, the Prime Minister’s Brexit envoy, ahead of ninth round of formal negotiations.

Britain and Brussels have both set a deadline of mid-October for any trade deal to be completed.



Deeply divided EU set for new migration scrap – eurocrat concedes NO ONE will be satisfied

Swedish commissioner Ylva Johansson will unveil a package of crackdowns on countries who refuse to accept failed asylum seekers returned from the EU and incentives for governments who take back their citizens. The long-awaited Brussels plans are due to be published next week after years of bitter wrangling over an EU-wide approach on migration. Member states and EU institutions have been locked in failed negotiations for five years following the 2015 migration crisis.

But Ms Johansson conceded: “Nobody will say ‘Hooray’.”

The bloc’s home affairs boss knows she faces an uphill struggle to convince the bloc’s 27 member states to come on board with her plan.

Previous EU-wide immigration strategies have failed because of the refusal of countries, such as Hungary and Poland, to accept a system where states are locked into compulsory quotas for housing asylum seekers.

Ms Johansson has hinted at another push to agree a mandatory solidarity clause that expects all member states to take in refugees.

She said: “There should be no way for a member state to have an easy way out, just sending some blankets.

“It should not be voluntary to what extent you show solidarity, that must be in accordance with the capacity and size of the economy of that country.

“Relocation is an important part, but also we have to]do it in a way that can be possible to accept for all member states.”

European sources claim the announcement will likely be met by an almost immediate rejection from the member states.

Critics of the plan believe there are alternative methods for allowing EU capitals to contribute to the bloc’s asylum policy without having mandatory quotas.

One EU diplomat told Express.co.uk: “For some countries it’s politically toxic to agree to this, there are different ways member states can show their solidarity.”

This includes allowing countries who aren’t willing to accept refugees to pay for them to be housed in another member state, the source added.

Despite the opposition, member states are expected to enter into talks over the package to avoid a repeat of tragic blaze at the Moria migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

MUST READ: Brexit, Frexit, Italexit – the EU house of cards is about to come down

In 2015 more than one million people reached the EU driven by a deadly civil war in Syria, according to the United Nations.

Last year just 123,000 people reached Europe’s shores.

In a bid to halt deadly crossings across the Mediterranean, a “resettlement” scheme could be agreed to allow people to request asylum from outside the bloc.

But it will not include setting up processing centres outside of Europe, Ms Johansson said.

“It’s not going to happen that we export the right to asylum. That’s a fundamental right, to apply for asylum when you are on a member state territory. And that has to be defended,” she said.



Brexit WARNING: US to scrap chances US-UK trade deal in threatening Boris Johnson letter

The four politicians are Eliot Engel, Richard Neal, William Keating and Peter King, a lone Republican congressmen.

In their letter, they told the Prime Minister they are “disturbed” by the Internal Market Bill over fears it could have “disastrous consequences for the Good Friday Agreement”, and warned the bill could see a US/UK trade deal dropped.

Citing US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the congressmen said: “The United States will not support any free trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom if the United Kingdom fails to preserve the gains of the Good Friday Agreement and broader peace process.

“If these reported plans were to go forward, it would be difficult to see how these conditions could be met.”



Brexit WARNING: US to scrap chances US-UK trade deal in threatening Boris Johnson letter

The American politicians wrote a letter to the Prime Minister today urging him to reconsider the legislation, citing ‘grave concern’ over the bill’s Northern Ireland protocol. On Monday night the controversial bill passed through the House of Commons with 340 MPs backing Mr Johnson’s changes to the Withdrawal Agreement. Three of the four congressman who wrote to Mr Johnson are Democrats.

The four politicians are Eliot Engel, Richard Neal, William Keating and Peter King, a lone Republican congressmen.

In their letter, they told the Prime Minister they are “disturbed” by the Internal Market Bill over fears it could have “disastrous consequences for the Good Friday Agreement”, and warned the bill could see a US/UK trade deal dropped.

Citing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the congressmen said: “The United States will not support any free trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom if the United Kingdom fails to preserve the gains of the Good Friday Agreement and broader peace process.

“If these reported plans were to go forward, it would be difficult to see how these conditions could be met.”

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Tory MP steps up calls to scrap BBC licence fee ‘politically correct nanny state!’

Andrea Jenkyns said viewers were fed up paying the annual £157.50 fee to a broadcaster, which was starting to behave like a “politically correct nanny state”. BBC bosses are coming under growing pressure to justify the fee amid rows over scrapping free licences for over-75s, presenter salaries, political bias and accusations of “woke culture”.

Tim Davie, the BBC’s new director-general, has been brought in and has vowed to make immediate changes.

But Ms Jenkyns said the time had now arrived for wholesale reform at the corporation.

She said: “I think the BBC has had its monopoly for too long now.”

She continued: “It is inherently leftist and pushing that agenda all the time – I know the number of interviews I’ve done where they’re just so biased.

“And I feel they are also teetering on the cancel culture as well which they shouldn’t be doing.

“If every penny of taxpayers money goes to the BBC or any public sector organisation it should have scrutiny.”

READ MORE: Former BBC controller breaks cover to admit huge crisis

She said the recent row over the Last Night of the Proms and the farcical indecision over the inclusion of traditional songs such as Land Of Hope And Glory and Rule, Britannia! – there were eventually played and sung in full at the Royal Albert Hall last night – had highlighted the problems at the heart of the organisation.

She said: “They should be a beacon of light for British culture – it is the British Broadcasting Corporation – rather than trying to be this nanny state, politically correct role which they have being doing recently.

“This has got to change so let’s just get on and defund the BBC.”

Ms Jenkyns said voters in her Morley and Outwood constituency in West Yorkshire did not want to see the BBC closed down but were becoming increasingly frustrated by the service they received from the broadcaster.

She said: “The majority who write to me are very frustrated on two levels: one is the licence fee, which is tax-payers’ hard-earned money, and the second thing is the bias of the BBC. It’s gone on for far too long unchallenged.”

Ms Jenkyns made her comments as the Government prepares to announce its response to a consultation on decriminalising licence fee evasion.

“Why should we give legal privilege to the BBC? It’s wrong.

“They must be challenged to get with the times now and we need a much better system than the one we have at the moment.

“We’ve got a majority in Parliament now so now is the time to tackle these issues.”

The BBC has said the current system to tackle TV licence evasion “is effective in ensuring payment with very few people ever going to prison”.



BBC blow as two thirds say SCRAP licence fee in poll ‘only a matter of time’

Exclusive research by OnePoll for the Sunday Express reveals that only around one in five people still support the £157.50 fee that must be paid by any household with a colour television.

There is overwhelming backing for a major overhaul of the broadcaster.

When asked if the BBC should reform or change its ways significantly, nearly two-thirds (62.49 percent) said it should with only 18.93 percent disagreeing.

These findings come in the wake of widespread anger at the axing of free TV licences for all but the poorest over-75s. There was further embarrassment for the embattled broadcaster when public outcry at a decision not to have singers perform Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory at The Last Night of the Proms forced a u-turn.

The BBC has also come under intense criticism for announcing the axing of 450 jobs across regional TV news and current affairs in England. These and other controversies have flared up just as it faces unprecedented competition from online streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.

Against this backdrop, 66.33 percent of respondents backed the scrapping of the mandatory licence fee, with only 20.93 percent wanting it kept.

Conservative MP Philip Davies, one of Parliament’s highest profile critics of the BBC, said: “It’s pretty clear that the BBC itself and the licence fee have completely lost the confidence of the British people. It’s not only a matter of time before [the fee] is scrapped and the BBC has to go to a subscription model.

“It would, I think, be in their best interests – before they lose even more support amongst the British people – if they embrace that and go down that route voluntarily rather than going down kicking and screaming, which is the only other possible outcome.”

The polling shows significant support for alternative models of funding the BBC.

The most popular option, backed by 38.81 percent, is that it should take advertising. More than a third (35.81 percent) say the BBC should accept sponsorship, while 27.02 percent support the present licence fee with “tweaks and cost savings”.

More than a quarter (25.82 percent) would support Government funding for elements such as the news and the World Service and 25.52 percent back a voluntary subscription model.

Only 15.53 percent support a pay-per-view model which would see people pay to see individual shows such as Blue Planet and Strictly Come Dancing.

The public are split on how well the broadcaster reflects British values.

When respondents were asked how well they thought the BBC and its pundits reflect the values of the majority of the British people, 42.31 percent said “very well” or “quite well”, with 40.91 percent saying “very poorly” or “quite poorly”.

Shipley MP Mr Davies hopes the BBC will reverse the axing of free licences for most over-75s, accusing it of making savings “on the back of old age pensioners in order to protect Gary Lineker’s salary”.

He said: “They basically treat the people who fund them with utter contempt and so they shouldn’t wonder when the upshot of it is opinion polls like this..

“When I was a kid growing up, if you wanted to watch the best sport, the best comedy, the best drama, you watched the BBC. Now, if you want to watch the best sport you watch Sky, if you want to watch the best drama you watch Netflix, and if you want to watch the best comedy you try and find some channel showing comedy shows from about 30 years ago…

“The last place you go is to the BBC for any of that stuff and yet people are having to pay more and more for the licence fee in effect for worse and worse programming.”

A BBC spokeswoman said: “Our analysis of public opinion shows that the licence fee is the most popular way to fund the BBC. Long-term polling shows 41% of the public pick the licence fee as the best way to fund the BBC, above advertising (30%) and subscription (26%).

“The licence fee ensures the BBC is an independent, universal broadcaster, committed to serving everyone – not the interests of advertisers or shareholders – and to investing in British creativity.”



BBC ordered to scrap 'ridiculous' TV licence fee – 'It needs to fund itself!'

Over recent weeks, the BBC has faced backlash after scrapping free TV licences for over-75s and the decision to axe Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory from the Last of the Night of the Proms.

A total of three million households are now forced to pay £157.50 for a colour licence and £57 for a black and white licence.

The decision by the BBC has been heavily condemned by pensioners, politicians and UK charities, who fear many over-75s will struggle to pay the charge.

The BBC has also come under fire this week for its decision to perform Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory without lyrics at the Last Night of the Proms.

It had been reported the songs, both staples in the Proms diary, could be dropped altogether over concerns of associations with colonialism and slavery.

BBC urged to scrap TV licence fee

BBC urged to scrap TV licence fee (Image: Getty)

BBC ordered to scrap TV licence fee

BBC ordered to scrap TV licence fee (Image: Express)

A poll, which ran from 10am to 7pm on August 29 on the Express.co.uk website, asked, “Do you think the BBC TV licence fee should be scrapped?”

A staggering 10,120 people cast their vote and 97 percent (9,710) voted in favour of scrapping the TV licence.

One person said: “The TV licence should be abolished.

“It certainly should not go to one company, who can spend billions on sets, on new buildings, on staff salaries (and presumably pensions).

READ MORE: Baffled OAPs targetted by SCAMMERS as free TV licence fee ends

Boris Johnson condemned BBC move

Boris Johnson condemned BBC move (Image: Getty)

“The company CEO when challenged says we can move most staff out of London? Which will cost more?”

Another person added: “The TV licence is now an outdated concept, as kids we were told we needed a licence for our radios to receive the signal, that has changed to us supporting a bloated biased corporation, who now dictate our very lives.

“And to be criminalised for non-payment is nothing short of Draconian.

“The BBC needs an extremely radical overhaul from top to bottom – it is no longer fit for purpose.”

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Nigel Farage lashed out at BBC Proms decision

Nigel Farage lashed out at BBC Proms decision (Image: Getty)

Someone else pointed out the BBC has been siding with the EU among Brexit and other issues.

They said: “They stopped being the BBC when they started taking money from the EU and siding with them over Brexit among other things.

“This tax is ridiculous in this day and age and it should be made PPV.”

Another person said: “The BBC have shown on many occasions that it doesn’t represent the people who pay for it.

BBC to scrap Rule, Britannia from Proms

BBC to scrap Rule, Britannia from Proms (Image: Getty)

“The BBC licence is out of date and why should people be forced to pay for a service that they don’t use.

“It should become a subscription service or be forced to fund itself.”

Another person accused the Beeb of becoming a “Leftist Woke organisation” and said: “The BBC has become a Leftist Woke organisation that is not representative of Britain or British values.

“It needs to fund itself.”

Millions of people forced to pay licence fee

Millions of people forced to pay licence fee (Image: PA)

With another person simply putting it: “Long overdue get rid of the TV licence and shut down the overpaid BBC.”

Just three percent (365) opposed and 45 people said they don’t know.

The licence fee is the annual cost viewers must pay in the UK and funds the TV, radio and online services of the BBC alone.

Those caught watching television without a licence can be fined up to £1,000 in addition to court costs.



POLL: Should Boris Johnson scrap the winter fuel allowance for pensioners? VOTE HERE

The winter fuel allowance, introduced by then-Chancellor Gordon Brown under the Tony Blair-led Labour Party Government in 1997, goes to around 12 million people and costs the Treasury nearly £2billion a year. In 2017, then-Prime Minister Theresa May insisted removing the annual payment from all but the poorest pensioners would release money that could be pumped into the social care system. But Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell published analysis which he said showed almost 4,000 more pensioners’ lives would be at risk through been unable to heat their homes.

People over the age of 60 may be eligible for the allowance, which is an annual tax-free payment of between £100 and £300 made during the winter months aimed at helping older people with their heating costs.

To qualify, you had to be born on or before October 5, 1954, and be living in the UK for at least one day during the “qualifying week”, which this year will be September 21-27.

Those not living in the country during this seven-day period may still receive the payment if they live in Switzerland or a European Economic Area (EEA) country, and also have a legitimate link with the UK – for example, the person has lived or worked in the UK or has family there.

But you will not be eligible for the payment if you live in a European country that has a higher average winter temperature than the warmest region in the UK, including France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Malta or Gibraltar.

boris johnson winter fuel allowance

Should Boris Johnson scrap the winter fuel allowance for pensioners? (Image: GETTY)

You also won’t qualify if you have been receiving free treatment in hospital for a year, need permission to enter the UK and your granted leave states you cannot claim public funds, are in prison during the qualifying week, or live in a care home and receive certain benefits for the period of the 2020/21 winter payment from June 29 and September 27.

If you are aged between 65 and 80, and live alone, you will receive £200, if you live with someone who qualifies, you will receive £100 each, if you live in a care home and do not receive certain benefits, you will also receive £100.

Those who are aged over 80 and live alone will receive £300, if you live with someone who also qualifies and is under the age of 80, you’ll get £200, while if the qualifying person is over the age of 80, you will receive £150, and if you live in a care home and do not receive certain benefits, you will receive £150.

Payments can also be different if you or your partner receive Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support.

winter fuel allowance

The winter fuel allowance goes to around 12million people in the UK (Image: GETTY)

Winter fuel allowance payments are usually made between November and December, and this should not change if you receive any other benefits.

Those who aren’t in receipt of other benefits and were not paid the allowance last winter will need to make a claim.

The winter fuel allowance has become a key topic, especially as the UK approaches the coldest months towards the end of the year, and comes weeks after over-75s lost their free TV licence.

Earlier this month, the free privilege became means tested, meaning only older people claiming Pension Credit are eligible for the scheme. The BBC said it could no longer afford to provide the free licences.

winter fuel allowance heating

The winter fuel allowance is aimed at helping older people with their heating costs (Image: GETTY)

bbc tv licence over 75s

Campaign groups fear pensioners will use the winter fuel allowance to pay for their TV licence (Image: GETTY)

The BBC has been warned pensioners would use their winter payment to fund their TV licence after the broadcaster scrapped the universal concession for older people.

Silver Voices, a group for senior citizens in the UK, said its members had told them they would sacrifice heating their homes this winter to afford the licence, which costs £157.50 a year.

Director Dennis Reed warned older people could be forced to use their winter fuel allowance to pay for their TV licence, while reducing their heating output as the winter progresses.

He said: “If we do not succeed in reversing this cruel policy, many older people will be tempted during a mild autumn to use their winter fuel payment to pay their licence and then cut down on heating later in the winter.

“This dilemma shows how poorer over-75s will be forced to choose between food, heating and their constant companion, the TV; to the detriment of their physical and mental health.”

Charity Age UK warned pensioners using the winter fuel allowance to pay for their TV licence fee rather than their heating means they could be risking their health during the coldest months of the year.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, said: “It is vital that older people are warm at home in the winter as cold can have a devastating effect on their health.

“For millions of older people the winter fuel payment provides much needed extra cash to help them feel able to turn up the heating when is it is cold.

“As such it is a vital weapon against cold-related illnesses such as heart-attacks and strokes and it helps to avoid premature deaths.

“There’s no doubt that if they have to resort to using it to buy a TV licence it means an older person will be putting themselves at greater risk of cold-related ill health.”



World War 3: Moscow’s 15-minute nuclear warning to China after territory scrap on border

The world came within touching distance of all-out nuclear war when the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted after Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed to fulfil Fidel Castro’s request to place nuclear missiles in Cuba. But, seven years later there was a concerning development on a small island in the Ussuri River on the border between Primorsky Krai of Russia and Heilongjiang province of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), that could have changed the face of the Cold War. This wasn’t East versus West, this was East versus Far East.

In the red corner, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at the height of its military expansion under the iron fist of Leonid Brezhnev.

In the other red corner, the People’s Republic of China, in the grip of a cultural revolution under Chairman Mao Zedong.

On March 2, 1969, under what CIA analysts believed were direct orders from Beijing, Chinese border guards and soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ambushed a unit of Soviet KGB border troops.

Instantly, around 300 more PLA soldiers burst out of foxholes and opened fire on the remaining Soviets.

The Soviet Union was ready to retaliate

The Soviet Union was ready to retaliate (Image: GETTY)

This brutal clash was the escalation of a ‘pushing war’ in which Soviet and Chinese soldiers had patrolled the same contested stretch of land for years.

Mao’s gamble was that either the Soviets would not retaliate, or would do so at a small scale, despite the huge buildup of Red Army forces in the region.

CIA files show the Soviet’s Strategic Missile Forces went to high alert – their nuclear warheads ready to be unleashed at targets 1,600 kilometres away in less than 15 minutes.

But, they were not sent.

Mao had been right, the response was small, but coming from a foe considerably better armed, it was still a crushing defeat.

READ MORE: World War 3: How ‘monumental’ CIA blunder ‘handed N. Korea and Iran nuclear bomb secret’

The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world within touching distance of nuclear war

The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world within touching distance of nuclear war (Image: GETTY)

The KGB’s elite border guards in snow camouflage embedded themselves on the island, cutting down a Chinese detachment with a rattle of automatic fire, resulting in what CIA reports described as “several hundred” Chinese casualties.

Eventually, though, Mao backed down and diplomatic negotiations over the territory resumed.

Their relationship was restored, but it certainly was not normal.

The violent deterioration of the relationship between China and the USSR came as a shock to the West.

The entire foreign policy of the US fixated on the idea of the “domino effect” of communism and newly “reddened” republics all lining up to point their armies at the West.

But under the rhetoric of the Cold War was an ancient grudge match, in which Mao blamed the Soviets for failings in the Chinese Civil War from 1927 to 1950.

The Soviet Union readied nuclear weapons

The Soviet Union readied nuclear weapons (Image: GETTY)

Mao also claimed in a 1956 conversation with the Soviet ambassador PF Yudin that these failed urban uprisings in the Twenties and early-Thirties had cost the communist forces dearly, reducing its numbers from 300,000 to 25,000.

Dr Robert Farley, assistant professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy, revealed just how close the pair came to wiping each other off the map.

He wrote: “China tested its first nuclear device in 1964, theoretically giving Beijing an independent deterrent capability.

“However, their delivery systems left much to be desired, liquid-fuelled missiles of uncertain reliability that required hours to prepare, and that could only remain on the launchpad for a limited amount of time.

“Moreover, Chinese missiles of the era lacked the range to strike vital Soviet targets in European Russia.

“China’s bomber force—consisting of an extremely limited number of Tu-4 and H-6 –would have fared very poorly against the USSR’s sophisticated air defence network.”

Leonid Brezhnev was ready for war

Leonid Brezhnev was ready for war (Image: GETTY)

CIA files show the Soviets were prepared

CIA files show the Soviets were prepared (Image: GETTY)

Dr Farley went on to reveal how the Soviets were ready for nuclear war.

He added: “The Soviets, on the other hand, were on the verge of achieving nuclear parity with the United States.

“The USSR had a modern, sophisticated arsenal of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons, easily capable of destroying China’s nuclear deterrent, its core military formations and its major cities.

“Sensitive to international opinion, the Soviet leadership would have resisted launching a full-scale nuclear assault against China, but a limited strike against Chinese nuclear facilities, as well as tactical attacks on deployed Chinese forces might have seemed more reasonable.

“Much would have depended on how the Chinese reacted to defeats on the battlefield.

“If the Chinese leadership decided that they needed to “use or lose” their nuclear forces in anticipation of decisive Soviet victory, they could easily have incurred a preemptive Soviet attack.”

Zhenbao Island caused a territorial scrap

Zhenbao Island caused a territorial scrap (Image: WIKI)

More shockingly, Dr Farley said the Soviets even tested the waters in the US to see how they would react.

Writing for National Interest in 2016, he added: “The United States reacted to the clashes with caution.

“While the border conflict reassured Washington that the Sino-Soviet split remained in effect, officials disagreed over the likelihood and consequences of broader conflict.

“Through various official and non-official channels, the Soviets probed US attitudes towards China.

“Reputedly, the United States reacted negatively to Soviet overtures in 1969 about a joint attack on Chinese nuclear facilities.

“However, even if Washington did not want to see China burn, it would not likely have engaged in any serious, affirmative effort to protect Beijing from Moscow’s wrath.”



World War 3: Moscow’s 15-minute nuclear warning to China after territory scrap on border

The world came within touching distance of all-out nuclear war when the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted after Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed to fulfil Fidel Castro’s request to place nuclear missiles in Cuba. But, seven years later there was a concerning development on a small island in the Ussuri River on the border between Primorsky Krai of Russia and Heilongjiang province of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), that could have changed the face of the Cold War. This wasn’t East versus West, this was East versus Far East.

In the red corner, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at the height of its military expansion under the iron fist of Leonid Brezhnev.

In the other red corner, the People’s Republic of China, in the grip of a cultural revolution under Chairman Mao Zedong.

On March 2, 1969, under what CIA analysts believed were direct orders from Beijing, Chinese border guards and soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ambushed a unit of Soviet KGB border troops.

Instantly, around 300 more PLA soldiers burst out of foxholes and opened fire on the remaining Soviets.

The Soviet Union was ready to retaliate

The Soviet Union was ready to retaliate (Image: GETTY)

This brutal clash was the escalation of a ‘pushing war’ in which Soviet and Chinese soldiers had patrolled the same contested stretch of land for years.

Mao’s gamble was that either the Soviets would not retaliate, or would do so at a small scale, despite the huge buildup of Red Army forces in the region.

CIA files show the Soviet’s Strategic Missile Forces went to high alert – their nuclear warheads ready to be unleashed at targets 1,600 kilometres away in less than 15 minutes.

But, they were not sent.

Mao had been right, the response was small, but coming from a foe considerably better armed, it was still a crushing defeat.

READ MORE: World War 3: How ‘monumental’ CIA blunder ‘handed N. Korea and Iran nuclear bomb secret’

The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world within touching distance of nuclear war

The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world within touching distance of nuclear war (Image: GETTY)

The KGB’s elite border guards in snow camouflage embedded themselves on the island, cutting down a Chinese detachment with a rattle of automatic fire, resulting in what CIA reports described as “several hundred” Chinese casualties.

Eventually, though, Mao backed down and diplomatic negotiations over the territory resumed.

Their relationship was restored, but it certainly was not normal.

The violent deterioration of the relationship between China and the USSR came as a shock to the West.

The entire foreign policy of the US fixated on the idea of the “domino effect” of communism and newly “reddened” republics all lining up to point their armies at the West.

But under the rhetoric of the Cold War was an ancient grudge match, in which Mao blamed the Soviets for failings in the Chinese Civil War from 1927 to 1950.

The Soviet Union readied nuclear weapons

The Soviet Union readied nuclear weapons (Image: GETTY)

Mao also claimed in a 1956 conversation with the Soviet ambassador PF Yudin that these failed urban uprisings in the Twenties and early-Thirties had cost the communist forces dearly, reducing its numbers from 300,000 to 25,000.

Dr Robert Farley, assistant professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy, revealed just how close the pair came to wiping each other off the map.

He wrote: “China tested its first nuclear device in 1964, theoretically giving Beijing an independent deterrent capability.

“However, their delivery systems left much to be desired, liquid-fuelled missiles of uncertain reliability that required hours to prepare, and that could only remain on the launchpad for a limited amount of time.

“Moreover, Chinese missiles of the era lacked the range to strike vital Soviet targets in European Russia.

“China’s bomber force—consisting of an extremely limited number of Tu-4 and H-6 –would have fared very poorly against the USSR’s sophisticated air defence network.”

Leonid Brezhnev was ready for war

Leonid Brezhnev was ready for war (Image: GETTY)

CIA files show the Soviets were prepared

CIA files show the Soviets were prepared (Image: GETTY)

Dr Farley went on to reveal how the Soviets were ready for nuclear war.

He added: “The Soviets, on the other hand, were on the verge of achieving nuclear parity with the United States.

“The USSR had a modern, sophisticated arsenal of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons, easily capable of destroying China’s nuclear deterrent, its core military formations and its major cities.

“Sensitive to international opinion, the Soviet leadership would have resisted launching a full-scale nuclear assault against China, but a limited strike against Chinese nuclear facilities, as well as tactical attacks on deployed Chinese forces might have seemed more reasonable.

“Much would have depended on how the Chinese reacted to defeats on the battlefield.

“If the Chinese leadership decided that they needed to “use or lose” their nuclear forces in anticipation of decisive Soviet victory, they could easily have incurred a preemptive Soviet attack.”

Zhenbao Island caused a territorial scrap

Zhenbao Island caused a territorial scrap (Image: WIKI)

More shockingly, Dr Farley said the Soviets even tested the waters in the US to see how they would react.

Writing for National Interest in 2016, he added: “The United States reacted to the clashes with caution.

“While the border conflict reassured Washington that the Sino-Soviet split remained in effect, officials disagreed over the likelihood and consequences of broader conflict.

“Through various official and non-official channels, the Soviets probed US attitudes towards China.

“Reputedly, the United States reacted negatively to Soviet overtures in 1969 about a joint attack on Chinese nuclear facilities.

“However, even if Washington did not want to see China burn, it would not likely have engaged in any serious, affirmative effort to protect Beijing from Moscow’s wrath.”