Businesses must be prepared for war in Europe, says Sir Richard Shirreff, former deputy supreme commander Europe at NATO

Organisations must recognise that European peace is not on the cards, says Sir Richard Shirreff, former deputy supreme commander Europe at NATO.

Speaking at the Airmic forum in Manchester, Shirreff had bleak news for those who might be hoping for an end to the Russia-Ukraine war.

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He said: “What we now need to recognise is there is not going to be peace in Europe while Putin is in the Kremlin.

“And even if Putin goes, which at some stage he will do. Russia will continue to be led by somebody equally hardline, equally ultranationalist and equally determined to reduce Ukraine to a rump and incorporate it into a Russian empire.”

He added that from the Ukraine’s perspective, victory is the only option, rather than some sort of peace agreement.

He explained: “Providing the West and NATO continue and ramp up the supply of military capability to Ukraine, Ukraine could achieve enough of its military objectives to mean victory over Russia.

”There is not going to be peace in Europe while Putin is in the Kremlin”

“There’s no negotiated peace settlement here. There is only one outcome here for Ukraine, and that is victory, because the Ukrainians know that anything else means a continuation of war, occupation. rape, massacre, deportation of children and destruction of cities.”

However, he cautions that any victory is unlikely to be swift – adding that even if Ukraine is victorious it will not mean automatic peace in Europe.

He said: “We have to think long term here, so brace for a long-running war.

”And even at the conclusion of that, assuming an armistice brings the guns to a halt and the shooting to a stop, Russia will remain an ever-present threat and danger because it will be a humiliated, defeated, revanchist state, determined to rebuild, regain and have another go.”

”We need to be prepared for the worst case, which is war with Russia”

He argued that the only way that peace can be maintained is for Ukraine to become part of NATO and for NATO to establish a “band of deterrent steel around Eastern Europe, to include Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and quite possibly one day Belarus.”

The implications of this would be massive, leading to what Shirreff describes as a “new Cold War to prevent a third World war.”

He concluded: “That’s going to change everything. It’s going to change defence budgets. It’s going to change government spending. It’s going to mean that we need to be prepared for the worst case, which is war with Russia.

”And we need to shake ourselves out of the rather complacent world that we live in at the moment, where we all support Ukraine, but for many people, the war in Ukraine is a faraway event in a country of which we know little.”