Former defence minister says Ukraine biggest crisis since Second World War

Polish troops look on during a visit by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Warszawska Brygada Pancerna

Former defence minister Gerald Howarth described the Russian invasion of Ukraine as "chilling". Pictured: Polish troops during a visit by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Warszawska Brygada Pancerna military base near Warsaw, Poland earlier this month. - Credit: PA

The invasion of Ukraine is "the most dramatic geopolitical event since the end of the Second World War", according to a Suffolk-based Conservative grandee.

Sir Gerald Howarth, former Minister for International Security Strategy and chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on Ukraine, said he believed Vladimir Putin was attempting to "rebuild the Soviet Empire".

Russia invades Ukraine. See story POLITICS Ukraine. Infographic PA Graphics. An editable version of

A map of the Ukraine conflict. - Credit: Press Association Images

Speaking on Thursday afternoon Sir Gerald, who now lives in Chelsworth, said: "This was a grim day for all of Europe.

"I woke up at 4.45am this morning, and even though I was fully expecting this, I felt sick.

"This is the most dramatic geopolitical event, since the end of the Second World War.

"It is the third act of aggression perpetrated by Russia under the leadership of Vladimir Putin. And I am afraid he has, on each occasion, been able to act with complete impunity.

"The belief that sanctions are going to have any effect at all is just for the birds.

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"You need look no further than the press conference that Putin gave – absolutely chilling stuff.

"He was talking about his invasion of Ukraine, to demilitarise a country which has got precious little military anyway.

"He has made it crystal clear that he resents the fall of the Berlin Wall, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and his intent, publicly committed, to rebuilding it.

Sir Gerald Howarth, former Minister for International Security Strategy

Sir Gerald Howarth, former Minister for International Security Strategy and chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on Ukraine - Credit: CONSERVATIVE PARTY

"Even more chillingly, he sent a response to the West that anybody who interferes can expect the most atrocious response in history. That means one thing only: nuclear weapons."

Sir Gerald said he believed the world was witnessing the end of the US and UK as global superpowers.

He said: "Putin will have calculated that the appalling capitulation in Afghanistan undertaken initially by Donald Trump, but executed by Joe Biden illustrated there is no appetite in the United States for further foreign adventures.

"And we have so reduced the size of our armed forces. We constantly say we can't undertake these activities on our own. We have to act in concert with partners.

"So if America deserts the scene, we're incapable of managing on our own."

Sir Gerald said he was worried for friends and former colleagues in Ukraine.

"I sent a text to a former member of the Ukrainian parliament this morning, but I am yet to receive a reply," he said.

"A number of times I have visited Kyiv – really, really lovely people there."