Gen. Sir Richard Shirreff, former NATO deputy supreme allied commander for Europe, is warning that the West must be prepared for war with Russia.
He made his comments during an interview with Times Radio.
"There will never be peace in Europe while [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is in the Kremlin," he said. "This is the mark of a desperate man. He's looking to reinforce failure. He's scrambling around desperate to try to stem the chaotic retreat of Russian forces from Ukraine. The bottom line with Putin is the only thing he respects is strength.
"We've got to remain strong. I completely second what President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy said: 'There will never be peace in Europe while Putin is in the Kremlin.' So we have to remain strong. We have to be prepared for the worst case, and we have to face him down.
"The end stage, for as far as this war is concerned, must be victory for Ukraine and defeat for Russia. That is going to require the West and NATO to double down on the military support.
"The way to manage the risks is not to be faced down by them but be prepared to face up to them. That means being prepared for the worst case, which is war with Russia. Clearly the West isn't going to attack Russian sovereign territory. It's up to the Ukrainians to fight the war they want to fight with Russia. But we in the west, we in NATO must ramp up our capability and be prepared for the worst case."
It is not the first time Shirreff has warned of possible war with Russia. During an April interview he said the West "must be ready" for war with Russia.
'The worst case is war, and that means a fundamental mind shift in NATO. Ready to be ready for the worst-case escalation,'' he said, emphasizing how the war is an ''existential'' battle for Putin and his grip on Russia.
Putin ordered the biggest mobilization of reservists since World War II on Wednesday, calling up 300,000 as he tries to annex a large section of Ukraine about the size of Hungary, Reuters reported.
"If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will without doubt use all available means to protect Russia and our people: This is not a bluff," Putin said. "In its aggressive anti-Russian policy, the West has crossed every line.
"This is not a bluff. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the weathervane can turn and point towards them."
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