Britain Is Facing A 1937 Moment And Must Be Ready To Fight, New Army Chief Says

General Sir Patrick Sanders says he has never seen such a clear threat to peace and democracy as the “brutal aggression” of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
General Sir Patrick Sanders, the Chief of the General Staff.
General Sir Patrick Sanders, the Chief of the General Staff.
Matt Cardy via Getty Images

British troops must be prepared to “fight and win” to stop the spread of war in Europe, the new head of the army will warn today.

General Sir Patrick Sanders, chief of the general staff, says Britain is facing another “1937 moment” and must be ready to act quickly.

In a speech on Tuesday he will also say he has never seen such a clear threat to peace and democracy as the “brutal aggression” of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Sanders will outline his focus on mobilising the army to help prevent the spread of war in Europe by being “ready to fight and win alongside our Nato allies and partners”.

“In all my years in uniform, I haven’t known such a clear threat to the principles of sovereignty and democracy, and the freedom to live without fear of violence, as the brutal aggression of president Putin and his expansionist ambitions,” he is due to say.

“This is our 1937 moment. We are not at war – but must act rapidly so that we aren’t drawn into one through a failure to contain territorial expansion.

“I will do everything in my power to ensure that the British Army plays its part in averting war.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin
MIKHAIL METZEL via Getty Images

He will liken the current situation to the run up to the Second World War, arguing Britain must be prepared to “act rapidly” to ensure it is not drawn into a full-scale conflict by failing to contain Russian expansionism.

Sanders will make the comments at a conference organised by the Royal United Services Institute think tank.

It comes after he wrote to all the troops under his command telling them they must prepare “to fight in Europe once again”.

Speaking at the same event, defence secretary Ben Wallace is expected to issue a fresh call for increased defence spending in the years ahead to counter the growing threat.

Wallace has reportedly written to the prime minister to call for the defence budget to be lifted to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2028.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson prepares to join other Nato leaders in Madrid for a summit at which they are expected to agree the biggest overhaul of the Western military alliance since the end of the Cold War.

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