The West Must Help Ukraine, Writes General Sir Richard Shirreff 

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The West Must Help Ukraine, Writes General Sir Richard Shirreff 
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Steve Black/Shutterstock (5841845w) Richard Shirreff Edinburgh Book Festival, Scotland, UK - 24 Aug 2016

Last week the war in Ukraine came home to people in the West. Finally, the free world has woken up. Vladimir Putin’s campaign of terror is a war for Europe’s security – and it is one we must win.

Much has been made this week of Germany’s belated decision to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to the frontline. These will be accompanied by 14 British Challenger 2s with a significant number of AS90 self-propelled artillery pieces.

We will come first. It’s hard to predict how long it will take for our allies to catch up, but it won’t be quick. The Americans’ M1 tanks would not arrive for several months.

That’s why NATO now has to give Ukrainian President Zelensky everything he needs – and he’s made it clear what that is. About 300 tanks, 700 armored vehicles and 500 artillery pieces. For this, I believe we must add long-range precision missiles and advanced fighter jets. Don’t do half the work.

Ukrainians are paying a heavy price in blood to drive out the Russians – so we must be prepared to give them the tools to do the job.

At a time when the cost of living is already rising, this will be painful. But everything is at stake – not least our national security and our democracy.

For nearly a year, our politicians have failed to realize this. They are dragging their feet, hoping that the conflict will somehow be resolved. It was wishful thinking – and puts us in even greater danger today.

Perception is everything, and from Putin’s perspective the conflict began in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea. The dictator considered this as his declaration of war with the West. When we didn’t respond, he knew he could continue occupying his land.

As soon as NATO countries, with Britain at the forefront, began sending arms and supplies to support Ukraine last year, Putin realized he had underestimated us.

He has now convinced himself that the West wants to wipe out his country, and his propaganda delivers that message to the Russian people every day.

Putin will never forgive Britain, Germany or America for sending tanks, brave Russian former diplomat Boris Bondarev wrote in the Mail yesterday.

This is deeply reprehensible. Putin’s war crimes are well documented. There can be no negotiated peace with such a man – or even one who will not leave one Russian boot on Ukrainian soil.

Even if the Kremlin offers a cease-fire, their forces will be regrouped until they are ready to try again.

It is therefore important for the West to deliver weapons of mass destruction to the Ukrainians as soon as possible. We are underestimating the ability of the Russian military to soak up punishment.

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