Britain is facing its ‘1937 moment’ and must be ready to ‘fight and win’ to ward off the threat From Russiasaid the head of the British army on Tuesday.
In his first public address, General Sir Patrick Sanders, Chief of the General Staff, will warn that the UK must be prepared to ‘act quickly’ to contain Russian expansionism.
Sir Patrick’s comparison between the invasion of Russia and the rise of Nazi Germany came as a missile strike on a crowded mall in the central city of Kremenchuk, Ukraine, on Monday killed at least 10 civilians and injured dozens more.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, said there were around 1,000 civilians inside the building, describing it as “one of the most audacious terrorist attacks in European history”.
G7 leaders on Monday evening called 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 heinous attack on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk.
“Indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians constitute a war crime. Russian President Putin and those responsible will be held accountable.”
Boris Johnson said the attack demonstrated Mr Putin’s ‘depths of cruelty and barbarism’.
Footage from the scene showed giant plumes of black smoke, dust and orange flames, with emergency crews rushing to search the shattered metal and concrete for victims and put out the fires.
The number of casualties was difficult to determine as rescuers searched the smoldering rubble.
In his speech on Tuesday, Gen. Sanders will say that deterring Russia means having “more of the army ready, more time,” from the “general…to the young lance corporal in the barracks, from the reservist on weekend to the civil servant in the army staff”.
His comments are likely to put pressure on Boris Johnson to maintain the size of the British Armed Forces following the announcement of plans to downsize as part of a transition to a more modern army.
“It’s our moment of 1937,” Sir Patrick will say. “We are not at war, but we must act quickly so as not to be dragged into a war by failure to contain territorial expansion.”
In a separate speech on Tuesday, Ben Wallace, the Secretary of Defense, will call for increased investment in defense.
Under current plans, the Army decrease from its current target headcount from 82,000 troops to 72,500 by 2025. Its main battle tanks will also be reduced from 227 to 148, although the remaining vehicles will be upgraded.
On Monday evening, NATO pledged to increase the forces available on high alert to more than 300,000 soldiers – a multiplication by more than seven.
Lord Danatt, former army chieftold parliament on Monday that the army faced an “untenable” situation after the reduction of tanks and troops.
He said the army’s capability was “far below what it should be for a nation of our rank”, adding that while the UK deployed four armored divisions to Germany during the Cold War, “we we cannot deploy a single armored division at the moment and there is a ground war in Europe at the moment”.
Shortly after Russia invaded UkraineMr Wallace wrote to Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, warning that Britain risked missing its target of 2% of GDP by 2025 if it did not increase military spending.
He said the cost of arming Ukraine, coupled with inflation, meant the UK was facing a real situation. reduction of security expenses. On Tuesday, he is expected to stress that “governments must be prepared to invest to keep us safe.”
On Monday evening, a defense source said the Prime Minister and Mr Wallace had agreed that ‘the Government will react to any change in threat, which is why in 2020 the Ministry of Defense received a record defense settlement “.
Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO, announced on Monday the most important overhaul of the alliance’s defense strategy since the Cold War. He said the alliance would strengthen its defense forces and strengthen its borders against any Russian attack.
Speaking ahead of the NATO leaders’ summit, he said: “We will transform NATO’s response force and increase the number of our high readiness forces to over 300,000.
“Russia has moved away from the partnership and dialogue that NATO has tried to establish with Russia for many years. They chose confrontation instead of dialogue. We regret this – but of course we must then respond to this reality.
NATO will multiply by more than seven its rapid intervention and combat-ready forces of 40,000 men, in which governments have largely lost confidence.
The alliance will pledge to abandon its “tripwire” defense strategy after a warning from the Baltic states that they would be “wiped off the map” in the event of a Russian invasion.
Mr Wallace recently told NATO allies that “the tripwire doctrine was not quite up to par with what we saw happening in Ukraine” and said: “The first fight is the most important”.
Mr Johnson is expected to announce “Significant reinforcement” for Estoniawhich could more than double the number of British troops available to the Baltic state.
Mr Stoltenberg also confirmed that NATO units deployed in eight alliance members in the east and south-east would be reinforced into brigades, normally comprising around 3,000 to 5,000 troops.
NATO officials said on Monday that the transition to the new model would not be complete until next year, with details still being worked out.
The landmark NATO summit comes as diplomatic tensions simmer over cargo shipments to Kaliningrad. Lithuania received threats from Moscow for preventing Russia from using the railways to transport coal, metals and other sanctioned goods to the military enclave.
Mr. Stoltenberg said: “I am convinced that Moscow, President Putin, understands our collective security guarantees, understands the consequences of an attack on a NATO ally country. This will trigger a response from the entire alliance.
NATO will also change its view of Russia from the current description of Moscow as a strategic partner. Russia would be singled out as “the most direct and immediate threat to our security”, Stoltenberg said of the language to be adopted in the “Strategic Concept” – NATO’s plan for the next decade .
The general secretary threw cold water on the hopes of Sweden and Finland to be admitted into the covenant at the top. He said he would welcome talks between Turkey and the Nordic countries in Madrid, but warned against an immediate breakthrough on Ankara’s opposition to their membership.
NATO will also announce its intention to organize training missions to bring the Ukrainian armed forces up to the level of the alliance.