Britain’s new top army general, Patrick Sanders, delivered a startling message to troops on June 16 – only made public yesterday – urging them to prepare for the possibility of fighting alongside allies to defeat Russia on the battlefield.
General Sanders said that the ongoing developments and the scale of the threat posed by Russia “shows we’ve entered a new era of insecurity.”
His internal statement to all ranks and civil servants was issued just three days after he took command of the British Army. He asserted that it was his duty to make the Armed Forces “as lethal and effective as it can be,” adding that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine presented an urgent need to protect the U.K and deter Russian aggression with the threat of force.
Sanders is a former commander of the British military’s strategic command and has led operations in Iraq, Bosnia and Afghanistan. In the statement, he laid out his aim to “accelerate the mobilization and modernization of the army to reinforce NATO and deny Russia the chance to occupy any more of Europe.”
He added: “We are the generation that must prepare the Army to fight in Europe once again,” pointing out that troops must be ready “to protect the UK, to fight and win wars on land” and that there is a “burning imperative to forge an army capable of fighting alongside our allies and defeating Russia in battle.”
In the statement, General Sanders reiterated the potential of Britain officially joining the war by describing himself as “the first Chief of the General Staff since 1941 to take command of the army in the shadow of a land war in Europe involving a continental power.”
His words follow a statement issued by NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to the German newspaper Bild, in which he said: “We must prepare for the fact that [the war] could [go on for] years. We must not let up in supporting Ukraine even if the costs are high, not only in terms of military support, but due to rising energy and food prices.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson echoed Stoltenberg’s sentiments, writing in the Sunday Times on June 19 that President Vladimir Putin had resorted to a “campaign of attrition” and was “trying to grind down Ukraine by sheer brutality.”
“I’m afraid we need to steel ourselves for a long war,” Johnson added. “Time is the vital factor. Everything will depend on whether Ukraine can strengthen its ability to defend its soil faster than Russia can renew its capacity to attack.”
Johnson, who made his second visit to Kyiv on June 17, also stressed the dangers of appeasement or a potential victory of Russia in Ukraine, saying: “Imagine for a moment that Vladimir Putin’s visions of glory were to come true. Suppose he was free to keep all the areas of Ukraine now controlled by Russian forces. What if no one was willing to lift a finger as he annexed this conquered territory and its fearful people into a greater Russia. Would this bring peace? Would the world be safer? Would you be safer? In our hearts we know the answer. Such a travesty would be the greatest victory for aggression in Europe since the Second World War.”
During his surprise in-person meeting with President Zelensky in Kyiv last week, Johnson promised more military aid to Ukraine, and pledged to intensify sanctions on Russia.
To date, the U.K. has committed a total of £2.8 billion in humanitarian aid and grants for Ukraine, according to the official British government website, adding to £1.3 billion in military support supplied in late May.
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