A former Nato chief from Britain stated yesterday night that as long as Vladimir Putin is in charge of Russia, there will never be peace in Europe. He also called for “major rearmament” in Western countries in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
General Sir Richard Shirreff said Western armed forces, including those of Britain, had been “ripped to ribbons” as a result of “successful complacent thinking” in the previous 15 years when speaking at the Chalke Valley History Festival, which is sponsored by the Daily Mail.
General Sir Richard compared the current situation to the months leading up to the Second World War and said Western nations must push for the “defeat of Putinism” and the “defeat of the Putin regime.”
General Sir Richard served as the deputy supreme commander of Nato when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014.
He continued, “This will require significant rearmament,” but stressed that the Russian president must step down to prevent additional hostilities.
“While Putin remains in the Kremlin or while the Putin government is in the Kremlin, there will never be peace in Europe.” He added, “We have returned to the location where many of your fathers, my father, and my mother were in 1938.
And in 1938, many of your grandparents were. We are dealing with a bloody tyrant in the Kremlin who has reintroduced iron and blood politics to Europe and caused indescribable pain to a democratic, peaceful neighbor in order to further his political objectives.
Before Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky addresses leaders at the NATO gathering in Madrid the next week, the retired general was speaking.
General Sir Richard has criticized recent defense budget cuts at a time when the Army is planning additional cuts that might reduce force levels to 73,000.
The proposals were presented as part of a defense review last year, and General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, who was then in charge of the Army and has since been replaced by General Sir Patrick Sanders, criticized them in April.
After the 2016 publication of his book War With Russia: A Menacing Account, General Sir Richard gave a speech yesterday.
He foresaw that Russia will invade Ukraine before turning its attention to countries in Eastern Europe in the book. People, including the former Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, attacked his allegations.
General Sir Richard stated the 2014 invasion of Crimea, which he claimed “fell like a ripe plum into Putin’s hands,” should have been the “strategic wake-up call” that Western nations required regarding Putin’s goals when addressing a sizable outdoor audience at Chalke Valley, close to Salisbury.
He claimed it provided the Russian leader with a “clean run” before his invasion of the entire country of Ukraine in February.
However, he cautioned that the current losses, which he estimated to be up to 200 men killed in combat every day, are unsustainable. General Sir Richard praised the effectiveness of Ukrainian forces in defending their country from Russian attacks.
In a “worst case” scenario, he claimed, Ukraine’s morale would crumble and Putin’s forces would successfully capture Kyiv, the country’s capital. He gave this scenario a 5% probability of happening.
However, he asserted that Ukraine can drive Russian forces back with more assistance from the West.
“I am certain that the Ukrainians will eventually drive the Russians back to the line of the 24th of February in the Donbass if we can assist them fight cunningly, manoeuvrably, and develop that potential.
And that will be the end of Putin’s attempt, his so-called special military operation, and it will be humiliation for him.
He claimed that the nation requires the “long-range artillery,” other offensive weaponry, and aircraft that Western countries have so far been unable to supply.
However, he cautioned that recent years have seen a “huge” depletion of British equipment supplies, making additional provision a “genuine issue.”
His warning followed Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the head of the armed forces, who said earlier this month that it would take “many years” to replenish stockpiles of weaponry provided to Ukraine, such as N-Laws and Brimstone missiles, due to Britain’s limited industrial capability.
The risk of Putin using nuclear or chemical weapons is “serious” and “grave,” according to General Sir Richard, who left his position as head of Nato in March 2014.
This is deterrence as we used it and funded it during the Cold War. But compared to any point during the Cold War, this time is more hazardous.
And doing so requires increasing our military’s capability.
It entails a fundamental shift in perspective for not only this nation but also every NATO member state, he continued, one that recognizes the need to prepare for the worst-case scenario and embraces the sacrifices that going to war entails.
The British Army must now be prepared to battle and defeat Putin’s soldiers in a European land war, General Sir Patrick warned last week. He also applauded that warning.
However, there are significant obstacles in the way. In a culture that has been shaped by the years of peace, both financially and psychologically,’ he said.
So, as we enjoy the beautiful June weather here, I can’t help but remember the similarly beautiful June of 1914, just before the tragic Sarajevo shootings.
Are we about to witness the end of our protracted Elizabethan peace and into a war and a catastrophe? The question is not “do we have the willpower to do what needs to be done.”
His remarks follow Ukraine’s’significant’ defeat of Putin’s Black Sea military, in which Ukraine attacked the Russian garrison on the vital Snake Island.
The Kremlin troops suffered significant losses as a result of “aimed strikes with the use of multiple forces,” according to the southern operations command.
Images from space show the destruction caused by Ukrainian forces, including burning foliage and a tower that was knocked down during the battle for the island.
In the attacks on the island, which has been a key battleground throughout the war, the Russian Pantsir anti-aircraft system, a radar station, and vehicles were all damaged.
This week, British intelligence reported that pro-Russian forces in Donetsk had lost 55% of their soldiers.
Russian success has been hampered, according to the Ministry of Defence, and the Kremlin will now be forced to send reserve forces to the Donbas to make up for the casualties.