I HAVE warned against defence cuts until I am blue in the face.
Now, the new head of the army has said that Britain is facing a “1937 moment”, and must, like all NATO members, be prepared to fight Russia should that dreadful need arise.
That means, General Sir Patrick Sanders said, “more of the army ready more of the time”.
Simultaneously, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has called for further increases in defence spending.
Our allies have also begun recalibrating their response, with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg saying: “To be able to defend in a more dangerous world, we have to invest more in our defence”.
This week, NATO announced it would increase its standby rapid reaction force from 40,000 to 300,000, with Finland and Sweden joining as new members.
Meanwhile, Mr Putin’s acquisitive eye ranges across more targets.
Poland, Kazakhstan and Lithuania are feeling the heat, with Mr Putin’s long-held dream of resurrecting ‘Greater Russia’ underlying every threat he makes.
Lithuania, with a significant ethnic Russian population, is a particular concern.
It has been subjected to a massive, ongoing cyber-attack since Tuesday, in retaliation for blocking sanctioned goods transiting to Russian Kaliningrad.
However, as a NATO member it’s entitled to protection under the mutual defence pact.
To avoid the risk of a conflict between Russia and NATO, it’s essential we not only continue to arm and equip Ukraine, but build up our own defences.
It’s regrettable that a combination of complacency and other spending priorities post the Cold War have reduced our capabilities considerably.
Could we pull our weight in the event of war with Russia?
The will would be there, undoubtedly, but sufficient soldiers, ships and planes would not.