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NATO ON EDGE: Top military chief warns Putin is ready to start World War Three ‘OVERNIGHT’

VLADIMIR Putin could spark World War Three at any time by deciding to invade Poland in a matter of HOURS, a top NATO figure has warned tonight.


The Russian leader already has troops ready to launch a lightning takeover of eastern Europe in a move which would unleash a devastating global conflict on Europe’s doorstep.

And if NATO nations fail to respond to the threat with stronger resolve a future conflict could have “fatal consequences” for the decades-old alliance.

The chilling warning from NATO’s former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, General Sir Richard Shirreff, comes amid icy tensions between Moscow and the West.

Russia has become increasingly militaristic over the last 18 months, embroiling itself in conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, as Mr Putin vies to deflect attention away from the struggling economy.

And despite Western sanctions over its annexation of the Crimean peninsula the country retains a formidable fighting force, as demonstrated by its obliteration of Islamic State (ISIS) positions in the Middle East.

General Shirreff warned: “It is clear that Russia is capable of surprising the West…with potentially devastating implications for eastern Poland and fatal consequences to the Alliance.”

The experienced military commander made his dire prediction in a briefing document, entitled Arming for Deterrence, for the respected Atlantic Council think-tank.

In it he argues that Mr Putin could easily “artificially generate any pretext that suits his propaganda narrative” to justify going to war with the West at a moment’s notice.

When he invaded eastern Ukraine in March 2014 the hardline leader claimed he was intervening to protect a repressed Russian speaking minority in the Donbass region.

But Moscow could equally look to invade neighbour Poland, which unlike Ukraine is a NATO member, by arguing it is “pre-empting a NATO military attack” or “defending access to Kaliningrad”, according to General Shirreff.

He wrote: “Even if Moscow currently has no immediate intent to challenge NATO directly, this may unexpectedly change overnight and can be implemented with great speed, following already prepared plans. The capability to do so is, to a large extent, in place.

“The biggest threat for NATO today is a miscalculation by Russia that it could outmanoeuvre the Alliance by creating a quick fait accompli


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