Keir Starmer is under increasing pressure to ramp up defence spending following a devastating Russian missile attack on Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital, Okhmatdyt, which resulted in dozens of confirmed deaths.

Former head of the army, General Sir Patrick Sanders, voiced grave concerns about the UK’s military readiness.

He warned that Britain’s armed forces could barely last a month in a small-scale conflict due to dwindling troop numbers and severely depleted stockpiles after years of aiding Ukraine.

“At the moment, what we’re being asked to do by the government is well beyond what we are funded or capable of doing,” Sanders told the Times. “We are carrying some very, very big financial commitments at the moment. The biggest is the renewal of the nuclear deterrent, which is absolutely necessary to do.”

Russia’s attack on children’s hospital is utterly barbaric

Sir Patrick’s stark assessment comes just before Starmer’s first NATO summit as Prime Minister, where he is expected to face calls from eastern NATO members to increase defence spending beyond the current two per cent of GDP target.

The Prime Minister has committed to raising defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP but has yet to specify when this will be achieved. The brutal attack on the children’s hospital, part of a wider missile barrage that killed 31 people and injured over 150, has intensified calls for a stronger military response.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned the attack and reiterated the need to hold Russia accountable for its actions.

General Sanders highlighted the numerous challenges facing the UK’s armed forces, including modernising the air force, navy, and army, restocking depleted arsenals, and ensuring adequate support for military personnel.

“What we have at the moment doesn’t stack up to doing all of that,” he said.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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maurice10
maurice10 (@guest_833291)
11 days ago

The needs are crystal clear we’ve written endlessly on this forum what our forces require but it will take time and money and I fear this new government will hold back until, it can see the wood for trees. Some fast procurement can be initiated straight away in the form of ordinance, however new equipment will take much longer and will not in place to protect our forces in the short term. One option could be a delay in Warrior and FV432 decommissions and retention of CH2 (the reminder of the class after CH3) Also a delay in removing Tranche… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_833329)
10 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

There will be no money in the short term so definitely worth thinking on your ideas. Boxer build rate is glacial so Warrior will be around for a while longer than thought. Will it be continue to be a credible IFV? Is there a WCSP lite program that would make sense? How long will we have to wait for the mortar, overwatch and AD versions of Boxer – FV 432? How much money would be freed up if we settle for one carrier at sea at any time, and just 48 F-35 – for now at least? Would 12 SEAD… Read more »

maurice10
maurice10 (@guest_833388)
10 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Your ideas are possibly reflective of the new government thinking. A menu of ideas may be our only option if the damage to the UK’s social structures are to be given serious monetary help. The haste of army vehicles being struck off charge needs to be reversed as do RAF airframes, there is too much waste. If the UK is called upon to fight alongside NATO members we will need as many serviceable AVF’s that we can muster and at the moment the retention of current stocks is the only option we have.

David Lee
David Lee (@guest_833589)
10 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

We virtually have no 155mm guns left either and 14 archers aren’t going to cut the mustard

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_833609)
10 days ago
Reply to  David Lee

Haven’t we selected the Boxer 155mm? How long is that going to take? Saw a govt spokesman on the TV this morning saying we have to wait a year before the defence review reports. All a bit of a mess.
Interestingly, Telegraph are reporting that Starmer’s ‘root and branch review of the ability to fight’ will include troop numbers.

Last edited 10 days ago by Paul.P
David Lee
David Lee (@guest_833617)
10 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

The army didn’t select boxer rch rishi sunk did there was no competition between that and k9 I work at the school of artillery everyone wanted k9 it’s virtually off the shelf other nato countries have ordered it .Boxer rch isn’t even on the horizon yet and the mod is giving away our entire 155 sp fleet it’s barking mad

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_833696)
9 days ago
Reply to  David Lee

I do wonder whether the selection of Boxer rch isn’t really to do with partnering with Germany and rebuilding relationships with the EU. Germany is buying Brimstone and some more Typhoons I think. Maybe they will be selling us some pre-loved pzh2000 ?

Steve R
Steve R (@guest_833656)
10 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

I read somewhere that he’s adamant about not cutting troop numbers and is looking to increase them.

If the review will take a year then hopefully at least short-term bits could be acted on faster; say, for example, increasing stocks of munitions.

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_833666)
10 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

Yes, I saw that too. Cuts are off the table, 2.5% is confirmed but no date, and they think troop numbers should increase. They want to know what the extra money will be spent on before they hand it out.⁹

DC
DC (@guest_833586)
10 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

“The needs are crystal clear we’ve written endlessly on this forum what our forces require”
Since you’re so concerned I take it you will be enlisting…

David Lee
David Lee (@guest_833599)
10 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

Artillery has already been stripped to the bare bones 155mm is virtually non existent 14 archer units aren’t enough the rch boxer isn’t even on the horizon yet half dozen as90 in Estonia and the same number at the rsa

Athelstanthecurious
Athelstanthecurious (@guest_833293)
11 days ago

Putin is seemingly able to mix war crime, military incompetence and psychopathic arrogance effortlessly. This means a higher probability of open conflict at a time which is becoming increasingly unpredictable, if the last 130 years of history has taught anything.
2.5% is surely now only a good starting point and must be an immediate commitment, fully knowing I’ll be one of the many paying higher taxes to fund it.

Steve R
Steve R (@guest_833659)
10 days ago

2.5% should be the starting point to stop any cuts, maintain our current force size and rebuild our ammunition stocks.

It’ll take at least 3% just to get our forces back to where they were pre-2010.

3% spending plus some one-off payments, perhaps, or 3% plus costs for CASD.

Jonno
Jonno (@guest_835149)
4 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

The true figure is probably 3.5%. If one agrees with you, which I do, that Putin is capable of taking the initiative in ways we seem incapable and telegraphs his next moves, then sitting on our hands for another 12 months is extreme negligence.

Andy P
Andy P (@guest_833316)
11 days ago

It disappoints me that these guys only come out with this when they’re at the fag end of their careers or after they leave. It would be more damning if he called this stuff out when taking the gig on. He’d have been hailed as a whistle blower then instead of packing out the pension before moaning about the state of things. Hey ho he’s not the first and won’t be the last.

Lonpfrb
Lonpfrb (@guest_833373)
10 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Fair point but he had no obligation to say anything at all, so we should welcome appropriate support for national Defence at an appropriate moment like NATO 75th.

It seems to me that the civil service has convinced the red tabs that an excellent staff officer must be politically astute, i.e. do what the Minister said not what the forces want..

Just an opinion based on external observation not direct evidence, but seems a consistent pattern..

Andy P
Andy P (@guest_833462)
10 days ago
Reply to  Lonpfrb

Good point that he didn’t have to say anything. I’ve met too many senior officers that could put a politician to shame over their ability to avoid a difficult question though so I’m maybe a tad more cynical. For me its about personal ambition, I’m not saying they (I’m lumping them all together here so broad brushstrokes) don’t care about the Forces or their Force in particular, just not as much as their own careers. I’m equally sure they justify it to themselves, human nature being what it is, nobody wants to be the bad guy in their own story.… Read more »

Lonpfrb
Lonpfrb (@guest_834978)
5 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Business is no different on career before the bigger picture and nobody is surprised by that. People…