UK & World News

  • 24 March 2014, 16:26

Putin 'Acting Like Hitler' Over Ukraine

Britain's former top soldier has accused the Russian President Vladimir Putin of acting like Hitler over Ukraine.

Lord Dannatt, the ex-head of the Army, has called for military cutbacks to be reversed to put "muscle" behind Western diplomacy.

His comments came as concerns grew of a fresh incursion into Ukraine by Russia, and world leaders gathered at a summit to discuss the crisis.

The Prime Minister David Cameron has said there will be no G8 meeting in Russia this year in a further bid to isolate Moscow.

Preparations for the planned June summit in Sochi had already been suspended as a result of Russia's actions in Crimea.

Lord Dannatt, who led the Army between 2006 and 2008, said with defence budgets being cut, Mr Putin saw the West as "looking pretty weak", which encouraged him to be "pretty bold on his own fringes".

He told Sky News: "I think it's an important part of peace and security more widely that we put a decent proportion of our national expenditure into defence to put a bit of muscle behind our diplomacy.

"Otherwise, when the bully's in the playground, I am afraid the bully gets too much of a run round at his own timing.

"If he thinks there is virtually going to be no reaction at all then he will be encouraged to nibble away at the boundaries.

"It may be a little bit dismal to make comparisons with the 1930s, but that's what Adolf Hitler was doing in the 1930's, seeing what he could get away with.

"And he got away with a lot until frankly the world had to stand up. We don't want to go back to that kind of situation, but I think there are lessons there to be learned from history."

Lord Dannatt said: "I think we are sending the wrong message to Mr Putin and indeed to others if the West would appear to be disarming and reducing its military capability.

"I think experience has shown that diplomacy is most effective when it has a strong military component behind it."

He said slashing the Army by 30,000 regular soldiers to a force of 82,000 by 2020, alongside plans to increase the number of reservists, was "too much".

He argued to reverse this cut by 3,000 troops, to be based in Germany.

Lord Dannatt added: "I think that would be sending a good message of solidarity to our Nato and European partners that we are continuing to keep soldiers on the mainland."

But Mr Cameron said: "I don't think its necessary to change our plans to base British soldiers in Britain, but I think what is important that we send a very clear message to our Nato partners and allies, that we believe in Nato and believe in their security.

"That's why for instance we are helping some of the Baltic states with their defence and their needs. That's what we should be doing and that's what we are very much committed to doing."

He said reports of Russian troops gathering on Ukraine's border were "concerning" and warned Mr Putin a fresh round of sanctions would follow if his forces moved any further into Ukrainian territory.

Advertisement