Lord Richard Dannatt says Vladimir Putin must be defeated and that British troops may need to be deployed to ensure that.
The former head of the Army told GB News this morning: “It’s a very positive sign that the G7 leaders are coming together. What’s really important is that the solidarity of the West is maintained, and the commitment to supply Ukraine with all that they need. Frankly we’re in here for the long haul.
“Putin has got to be defeated. The Ukrainians are showing enormous grit, determination, and drive on the battlefield.
“And even attacks such as yesterday, I think it only strengthens the Ukrainian population’s will to win. And that’s what we really need to support and do. So well done Liz Truss, well done on the other G7 leaders for getting together.
“They must learn together, and particularly Uncle Sam, the Americans must continue to supply the high tech weapons at the rate they are, and possibly even more.”
In an interview during Breakfast with Stephen Dixon and Isabel Webster on GB News, he was asked if Ukraine needed better anti-missile defences.
He added: “There’s a very good case to get on with it and provide air defence. Again, it’s difficult to know where the truth actually lies, but the Ukrainian Air Force claims it knocked down 43 of the 80 or so missiles that came in yesterday, that may be over-reporting.
“They have got some degree of air defence already but frankly, technology does exist that can knock down these cruise missiles which we know are quite large things.
“And therefore, it’s a promise it is one thing but actually to get equipment in place is really, really important.
He added: “This hasn’t been a one way ride for Putin. I saw a message from a contact yesterday to say that ultra nationalists on the right wing of Putin are really angry with him for spending $200 million yesterday on these meaningless targets.
“So when President Zelenskyy said they were focusing on people and energy, I think it was pretty indiscriminate. It just shows that they haven’t got the degree of technology, the accuracy that now the Ukrainians have got with their HIMARS missiles, for example.”
Asked about the appointment of a new Russian general, Sergei Surovikin, to oversee the war, Lord Dannat said: “Going to go right back to February…there was a complete absence of proper joint operational level command and control, there were five or six formations that launch to initial attacks, and Vladimir Putin himself gave instructions to them. Now, that’s an absolute recipe for disaster.
“I don’t know whether the man’s got a history book, but Hitler used to meddle in that sort of way and drove the generals absolutely barmy.
“This isn’t the first overall commander that’s been appointed so we’re going to have to wait to see whether he does bring more shape to them, but then will Putin change his habits will he resist the temptation to want to interfere at the lower level at the tactical level?
“They’re trying to learn some lessons, but the real point about the Russian army and GCHQ is on record this morning saying so, is that morale is very low, ammunition supplies are very low.
“We saw this mobilisation exercise is one thing to grab men off the streets, put them in some kind of uniform and tell them that they’re soldiers but without training and proper equipment, they’re just going to become more dead people. It’s a tragedy.”
He added: “This war is different because the Ukrainians are a joined up opposition. They’re a joined up set of armed forces, and he’s going to have to exercise real generalship as opposed to just being a butcher and a bully.
“I don’t think his track record necessarily sets up very well, as far as that’s concerned, but using extreme violence is one of his characteristics.”
Asked if troops would have to be deployed eventually to win the war, Lord Dannatt said: “The answer is yes, but where, which bit of ground are those boots going to go on?
“The really important thing is the United Kingdom plays its part within NATO, particularly supporting other countries that are potentially at risk from further attacks from Russia. And we already have a number of forward deployments in the Baltic states and in Poland.
“We need to do more of that and we need to sustain them. That’s one use of boots on the ground, to make sure we got the capability to do that. And I’m encouraged if Liz Truss can stick to her words, that our defence budget’s going to go up to 3% of GDP by the end of the decade.
“The defence budget has been starved of cash and our land forces have particularly been starved of cash. We really need to see more spending on our land forces, so that we can continue to meet these forward deployments.
“Those soldiers are going to be trained and prepared and ready, because a deterrent deployment could change into a defensive operation at any time, and that’s when they’ve got to be ready.”
On cyber-attacks, he said: “On the face of it, it’s surprising that Putin hasn’t made more cyber attacks now, because we only get to hear about cyber attacks when they’re successful.
“Actually, in this country, we’re increasingly well prepared to defend ourselves from cyber attacks. GCHQ and all those associated with that part of our work are extremely capable, extremely able.
“There is a cyber war going on out there. But actually we’re holding her own and potentially being really quite successful in countering the cyber attacks.
“Putin is beginning to thrash around pretty wildly in the present moment. He’s running out of ideas and opposition against him is starting to mount.”