The Ukraine war could last for another two or three years, according to predictions from the former chief of the UK’s defence staff.
Sir Nick Carter, who stepped down as the head of the British Armed Forces in November 2021 shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, was discussing the brutal war on Tonight with Andrew Marr on LBC on Thursday.
Asked when the war will end, Carter replied: “No time soon.
“I fear we could be having this conversation at the two-year and potentially the three-year anniversary.”
He explained: “I’m not sure that either side has either got the combat power or the capability to do anything particularly decisive on the battlefield.
“I mean, I think we’ll see the lines, ebb and flow, and maybe quite significant distances over the course of the next few months. But whether or not that is decisive enough to bring either party to the table, I doubt.”
Presenter Marr then asked if the West could cope with another two years of war.
Nato allies have been supplying Ukraine with weapons and support (without directly being involved in the conflict), and at the same time facing an energy crisis induced by the conflict.
Carter replied: “I hope so, because I think this is very much about Ukraine at the tip of the spear of trying to defeat Russian imperialism.
“And I think if we don’t win this one, I worry about what Mr Putin would do next… I think all the former Soviet territories will be wondering at the moment whether any of them are safe.”
Kyiv has repeatedly said that it is holding back Moscow on behalf of Europe.
Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24 last year, meaning it is two weeks until the one-year anniversary when Russia is expected to launch a renewed, and symbolic, offensive.
Amid speculation that the Russian president might become more unpredictable if the war continues not to go his way, Carter explained: “What we’ve learned over the last year is that he’s obviously a rational actor.
“I think that’s what most people would have deduced from his behaviour up until now.”
However, he added: “I do think that the worry that Western leaders have got is they don’t want to do something that appears to be so escalatory that it causes Mr Putin to make a move that is very dangerous in relation to Nato.”
Nato members have been careful not to be directly involved in the war so as not to draw Putin’s aggression further West, and possibly trigger a nuclear standoff between countries – or even World War 3.
Carter also suggested that Russia’s aggression should have been clear to the West for years.
“I think that if we had listened to what Mr Putin said, at Munich in 2007, when he railed against Nato enlargement, and he railed against US power and the use of US power.
“And then we looked at all of the events that occurred from the cyber-attack on Estonia, the invasion of Georgia in 2008, Crimea, I think we probably would have spotted that he had imperialist tendencies.”