Ex-SAS chief demands Britain prepares to 'fight in Europe'

‘We must not give Putin an opening’: Ex-SAS chief demands Britain prepares to ‘fight in Europe’ as he becomes second general to warn of looming threat from Russia

  • Gen Adrian Bradshaw said UK must stop Putin getting ‘an opening’ to widen war’
  • Said Russian leader is prepared to take the risk of indulging in open warfare’
  • Followed announcement by new army chief Gen Sir Patrick Sanders last week 
  • He told British troops they must be prepared ‘to fight in Europe once again’

Britain’s armed forces must be ready and willing to fight Russia in Europe, a former head of UK Special Forces warned today.   

General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, former director of Special Forces, said the UK must help Nato allies prevent giving Vladimir Putin ‘an opening’ to widen the war in Ukraine into a battle against the West.

The former senior officer’s intervention follows an extraordinary announcement by the new head of the British Army.

General Sir Patrick Sanders, who assumed overall command last  week, warned soldiers at the weekend ‘we are the generation that must prepare the Army to fight in Europe once again’ as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine rocks global stability. 

Putin and his acolytes have made a series of threats to attack Western countries who are providing materiel support to Kyiv as Ukraine seeks to throw out Russian troops.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Adrian said: ‘Yeah, he (Gen Sanders) is absolutely right. The point is that, by preparing for war properly, by building really solid deterrence, we will stop war happening.

‘Mr Putin has shown us that he is prepared to take the risk of indulging in open warfare in Europe. He’s doing that in Ukraine, with terrible, terrible consequences.’

General Sir Adrian Bradshaw (above right), former director of Special Forces, said the UK must help Nato allies prevent giving Vladimir Putin ‘an opening’ to widen the war in Ukraine into a battle against the West


General Sir Patrick Sanders has warned his troops to prepare to fight and beat Putin’s armies in a European land war

‘It is my singular duty to make our Army as lethal and effective as it can be,’ the commander of the Army said, adding: ‘The time is now and the opportunity is ours to seize’ (Royal Marines pictured in action)

The Russian President sat quietly, considering Tokayev’s comments, before appearing to deliver a calm but quietly menacing warning. ‘What is the Soviet Union?’ Putin asked rhetorically. ‘This is historic Russia’

In a tub-thumping message to British troops, Gen sanders last week wrote: ‘I am 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… The scale of the enduring threat from Russia shows we’ve entered a new era of insecurity.

‘It is my singular duty to make our Army as lethal and effective as it can be. The time is now and the opportunity is ours to seize.’  

It comes as Putin menaces NATO countries and this week taunted former Soviet states in Europe by declaring: ‘They are part of historic Russia’. 

He made the comments in response to a dramatic statement by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who sensationally declared he did not recognise the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

Tokayev, sat metres away from the brooding Russian despot at the St Petersburg Economic Forum (SPIEF) yesterday, described the DPR and LPR as ‘quasi-state territories’.

‘We don’t recognise Taiwan, Kosovo, South Ossetia or Abkhazia… we apply this principle to the quasi-state territories, which in our view, are the Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics’, the Kazakh President said in a daring defiance of Putin’s war in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian President sat quietly, considering Tokayev’s comments, before appearing to deliver a calm but quietly menacing warning.

‘What is the Soviet Union?’ Putin asked rhetorically. ‘This is historic Russia.’

He went on to paint Kazakhstan as a nation friendly to Russia, but quickly added: ‘The same thing could have happened with Ukraine, but they wouldn’t be our allies.’

Maximilian Hess, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told The Telegraph that Putin’s retort to Tokayev was a ‘clear threat’ and argued that Tokayev was reliant on Russian support following widespread riots in Kazakhstan in January, which were only quelled with the help of Russian paratroopers operating under the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) – an eastern security bloc similar to NATO. 

In a lengthy speech at the SPIEF conference, Putin went on to accuse the US of ‘playing God’ and treating countries like ‘colonies’ as he brushed off the impact of Western sanctions on Russia’s economy.

Amid a lengthy denunciation of America and its allies, Putin, 69, warned ‘nothing will be as it used to be’ as he delivered his address, which was delayed by 90 minutes after the event suffered a cyber attack.

When he eventually took to the stage, Putin issued a thinly-veiled threat to oligarchs thinking of quitting his regime. 

‘It’s safer in your own house,’ he said. ‘Those who didn’t want to listen to this have lost millions abroad.’ 

‘We don’t recognise Taiwan, Kosovo, South Ossetia or Abkhazia… we apply this principle to the quasi-state territories, which in our view, are the Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics’, the Kazakh President said in a daring defiance of Putin’s war in eastern Ukraine

Putin addressed Russia’s political and economic elite at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, a showcase event this year being held with almost no Western participation

He went on to announce that Western allies ‘think they have won’ and said Moscow’s war in Ukraine had become a ‘lifesaver for the West to blame all the problems on Russia.’ 

He added that the US considers itself ‘God’s emissary on Earth’, and that Western sanctions were founded on a false premise that Russia had no economic sovereignty.

Moving on to focus on his so-called ‘special military operation’, Putin said the main aim of the incursion was to defend ‘our’ people in the largely Russian-speaking Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Putin said the Russian soldiers in the Donbas were also fighting to defend Russia’s own ‘rights to secure development’.

‘The West has fundamentally refused to fulfil its earlier obligations, it turned out to be simply impossible to reach any new agreements with it,’ Putin said.

‘In the current situation, against a backdrop of increasing risks for us and threats, Russia’s decision to conduct a special military operation was forced – difficult, of course, but forced and necessary.’

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