THE world must be ready for a nuclear war with Russia if Vladimir Putin’s army collapses, an ex-Nato chief has warned.
General Sir Richard Shirreff urged the West to keep up the pressure on the tyrant as his invasion of Ukraine loses momentum.
US NAVYGeneral Sir Richard Shirreff was a former top commander in Nato[/caption]
A knocked out Russian tank after the Ukrainian’s recent lighting advanceGettyAPVictorious Ukrainian soldiers sitting on an armoured vehicle[/caption]
ReutersA car burning in Kyiv in the aftermath of the Russian missile blitz[/caption]
He suspects the bloodthirsty nation’s army is heading for a total collapse – in what could be Russia’s biggest military disaster for 100 years.
Sir Richard warned the danger – including threat of nuclear weapons – has by no means gone away despite Russia’s recent retreats.
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He told The Sun Online: “We should take that nuclear threat very seriously – but we should not in any way blink and I am pretty encouraged by the response of the West.
“But if we are promising massive retaliation in some way or other, you have to prepare for the worst case, and the worst case is being at war with Russia.
“There will be no peace in Europe while either Putin, a Putin-like regime, or an ultra-nationalist sits in the Kremlin.”
He drew a grim comparison between Putin and Adolf Hitler, saying the Russian leader is now “in the bunker” as the German dictator was in the dying days of World War 2.
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“We are dealing with crunchy political issues at the moment, but nevertheless – we might not want this war, but this war might want us,” Sir Richard explained.
“We must prepare for the worst case. This is about insurance. The way to avoid a potential war with Russia is to be ready for it, and we are not ready for it.”
But the former Nato commander believes the West have a fighting chance against Putin’s crumbling army – that is heading for disaster.
He continued: “I think the scene is being set for a decisive rout of the Russian Army in Ukraine.
“This could be an avalanche, and we are now seeing the cracks in the in the snow.
“The Ukrainians are creating more problems than the Russians are capable of solving. It’s looking good.”
The Ukrainians are creating more problems than the Russians are capable of solving. It’s looking good.
In a bid to turn the tide, Putin is reportedly massing troops in Belarus, which neighbours Ukraine and whose dictator Alexander Lukashenko is a close ally.
Belarus was the launchpad for the Russian invasion that began the Ukraine war and it’s feared they could be attempting a re-run of the attempt to encircle the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
In response, Ukrainian troops were seen moving to reinforce the border amid fears Putin could even use Belarus to launch nuclear strikes.
But Sir Richard believes this will be of little use and for the cornered Russians, there’s no way out out of their desperate predicament.
“The Russians are like the boxer trapped in the corner of the ring against a very agile opponent who punches one side and then punches the other,” he said.
He added: “The Ukrainians pushing the Russians back to the February 23 line – the day before the war started – by the end of 2022 I think is entirely feasible.”
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Even with the spectre of nuclear war hanging over the conflict, there is still hope for the Ukrainians as they scythe through the disintegrating Russians.
Sir Richard compared the rout to the total collapse of the Russian tsar’s military in 1917.
The revolution saw soldiers mutiny and refuse to follow orders, ending Russia’s involvement in World War 1 and led to the Russian revolution.
Ukrainian successes have been compounded by Russian failures – with Putin’s “fundamentally kleptocratic and corrupt” military leaving his men hopelessly underequipped.
And now there has been a “totally chaotic” mobilisation of the conscripts, with reports men are being left without food or other basic resources.
Putin is also making uninformed decisions at the top the Kremlin about the war – with Vlad reportedly being increasingly isolated, disconnected from reality and surrounded by his cronies.
“The [Russian] morale has gone,” explained Sir Richard.
“You’ve got soldiers who simply don’t want to fight – these guys were told they would be welcomed with open arms by cheering crowds and the so-called ‘Ukrainian Nazis’ would collapse.
“But they were met by a ferocious resistance, they are in a country that doesn’t want them there. Why should they die for Putin’s adventure?
“Conceptually the Russians do not understand combined arms warfare, they haven’t trained properly, physically they haven’t got the right kit and what they do have is rubbish, and morally they are completely bankrupt.”
And even with winter and the ‘”rasputitsa” rains rolling in to churn up the thick mud, this might not slow down Ukraine.
“If the winter is cold enough for the ground to freeze, then the Ukrainians will keep motoring,” Sir Richard told The Sun Online.
“The Ukrainians are well prepared, they’ve got the clothing, they’ve got the kit, and they’ve got the morale and the motivation – they are not going to stop.”
Putin has faced a new humiliation as his prized Kerch Bridge was blown up – partially severing the one fixed link between mainland Russia and the Crimean Peninsula.
Russia responded with a wave of indiscriminate bombardment in the cities across the country as raging Putin branded them “terrorists” and his a key ally said this was just the “first episode”.
Fears also continue to loom that Vlad could make good on his nuclear threats as he is increasingly backed into a corner by Ukraine and the West.
And questions even remain over his future, with it being increasingly difficult to see how he can stay on as Russia’s leader – or even survive – if there are further humiliations of the Kremlin.
“There will be no peace in Europe while either Putin, a Putin-like regime, or an ultra-nationalist sits in the Kremlin,” Sir Richard told The Sun Online.
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“The only way to ensure that the threat once the fighting stops is to make sure Ukraine is a member of Nato and Nato must bite the bullet and put troops on the ground and forces in the air over Ukraine.
“The way to maintain peace and the way to deter war is to be ready for it, and that means a generational challenge with a serious major military expenditure not unlike the Cold War.”
NewsflashUkrainian soldiers on the frontier with Belarus[/caption]
ReutersRussian tanks and armoured personnel carriers destroyed during a counteroffensive operation[/caption]
NewsflashVladimir Putin and his ally, the Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko[/caption]