Troop cuts will leave the Army at breaking point, says Lord Dannatt

“I’m afraid the future is not going to be returned to things pre 24th of February, the future is going to be a grumpy, resurgent Russia on the borders of countries in Eastern Europe,” he said. “We’ve got to play our part in deterring Russian aggression.”

Lord Dannatt added: “When it comes to old fashioned fighting, numbers do matter and to have an Army of only just over 70,000 30 per cent down from where we were 10 years ago is going to leave us woefully short if we find that we’ve got to maintain large number of troops at high readiness forward-deployed in Eastern Europe.” 

Last week, Mr Johnson said the UK would boost its defence spending in the wake of the war in Ukraine, as he warned of a “very different era” of insecurity in Europe. However, his official spokesman also insisted that UK troop numbers were “the right size”.

The spokesman added that it was “wrong to focus solely on the numbers” and stressed that the Government was investing in cyber warfare and other new technology. 

However, General Sir Patrick Sanders, the new head of the Army, warned last week that “it would be perverse” for himself to advocate for reducing the size of the Army “as a land war rages in Europe and [Vladimir] Putin’s territorial ambitions extend into the rest of the decade and beyond Ukraine”.

Lord Dannatt also said he anticpated that Russia would take Donetsk and Luhansk in the “next few days and weeks”.

However, he cautioned that in doing so Russia would not have won the war, nor would Ukrainians have lost. He said that instead, the war would go “into the deep trees”.