General Sir Patrick Sanders says UK must be ready for war with Russia as Nato announces massive troop expansion
Britain is facing its “1937 moment” and must be ready to “fight and win” to ward off the threat from Russia, the head of the British Army will say on Tuesday.
In his first public speech as the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Patrick Sanders will warn that the UK must be prepared to “act rapidly” to contain Russian expansionism.
Sir Patrick’s comparison of Russia’s invasion to the rise of Nazi Germany came as a missile strike on a crowded shopping centre in Ukraine’s central city of Kremenchuk on Monday killed at least 16 civilians and wounded dozens more.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukraine president, said there were around 1,000 civilians inside the building, describing it as “one of the most daring terrorist attacks in European history”.
The leaders of the G7 on Monday night branded the attack “abominable” as they vowed to hold Vladimir Putin accountable for the war crime.
In a joint statement, they said: “We, the leaders of the G7, solemnly condemn the abominable attack on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk.
“Indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians constitute a war crime. Russian President Putin and those responsible will be held to account.”
Boris Johnson said the attack demonstrated the “depths of cruelty and barbarism” of Mr Putin.
Images from the scene showed giant plumes of black smoke, dust and orange flames, with emergency crews rushing in to search broken metal and concrete for victims and put out fires.
The casualty figures were difficult to determine as rescuers searched the smoldering rubble.
On Monday night, Nato pledged to increase forces available on high alert to more than 300,000 troops – a more than sevenfold rise.
In his speech on Tuesday, Gen Sanders will say deterring Russia means having “more of the Army ready more of the time”, from “the general … to the young lance corporal in the barrack room, from the reservist on a weekend exercise to the civil servant in Army headquarters”.
His comments are likely to put pressure on Boris Johnson to maintain the size of Britain’s Armed Forces after plans were announced to reduce numbers in a move to a more modern military.
“This is our 1937 moment,” Sir Patrick will say. “We are not at war, but must act rapidly so that we aren’t drawn into one through a failure to contain territorial expansion.”
In a separate speech on Tuesday, Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, will call for increased investment in defence.