Army chief ‘says Britain must be ready for war with Russia’ in chilling warning

The Chief of the Armed Forces, General Sir Patrick Sanders, is set to deliver a speech expected to put pressure on Boris Johnson to reverse plans to reduce Britain’s troop levels

Special forces of the Romanian Navy are taking part in a firing exercise intended to consolidate NATO's combat procedures
Special forces of the Romanian Navy are taking part in a firing exercise intended to consolidate NATO’s combat procedures

Britain must be prepared to “fight and win” in the face of Russian aggression, the country’s army chief will say.

The Chief of Armed Forces, General Sir Patrick Sanders, is expected to make the comments when he makes his first public speech today, sources say.

The chief of staff will draw parallels between now and key moments that led to the outbreak of World War II when he says Britain is approaching its “1937 moment” and must be on high alert to “act quickly” to keep expansionism away from Russia in chess.

Yesterday evening, NATO promised to increase the number of its rapid reaction forces from the current 40,000 to more than 300,000.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 22 in Moscow


SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

The Telegraph reports that Sir Patrick will say that deterring Russia will require “more of the army at the ready,” from “the general … to the young corporal in the barracks, from the reservist at a weekend exercise to the officer at army headquarters”.

His harsh words could increase pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to scrap his plans to downsize the armed forces.

Sir Patrick is expected to say: “This is our 1937 moment. We are not at war – but we must act quickly lest we be dragged into war by not curbing territorial expansion.

“I will do everything in my power to ensure the British Army does its part to avert war.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace will also use a speech today to call for more investment in defense.

According to existing plans, the army will be reduced from its troop strength target of 82,000 to 72,500 by 2025. The main battle tank fleet will also decrease from 227 to 148, although the remaining vehicles will receive an upgrade.

Mr Wallace is expected to echo Sir Patrick’s sentiment, saying that “governments must be willing to invest to protect us”.

In March, the defense secretary wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak ahead of his spring statement, warning that the UK’s defense spending would fall below the NATO minimum of 2% of GDP by mid-decade unless the Treasury provided more funding.

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