The current war in Ukraine could be a “generational struggle” that lasts up to 50 years, a leading defence expert has warned.
Ukrainian cities have come under a renewed bombardment as Russian president Vladimir Putin upped his aggression, which some experts claim is an act of “desperation”.
And while one former spy chief predicted that Putin would eventually be replaced by someone more “extreme”, professor Michael Clarke, former director-general of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) said that the war is likely to last well beyond the lifetime of the current leadership in Moscow.
Clarke told Sky News that the current crisis in Ukraine is the “second war”, following the “first war” in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea.
When asked to predict what would happen in the coming months, he said: "My feeling is next year there will be a ceasefire in which the Ukrainians will be better placed and that ceasefire will be unstable and it will break down and there will be a third war and then a ceasefire and a fourth war.
"We're dealing here with an existential struggle because the Russian establishment thinks that Ukraine has no right to exist and they won't change their mind in the short-term.
"This is likely to be a generational struggle. Let's say it's going to last 30, 40 or 50 years.”
Watch: Journalist forced to take cover during Kyiv rocket attack
Clarke said the Ukrainians “can win back their territory”, but said the crisis could be a “forever conflict”, adding: “[Ukraine] will have to live in an armed peace with a neighbour 10 times their size that doesn't bare them any goodwill.
"And if there is a third war it will probably be tougher than the second because by then both of them will have armed themselves up so this is the beginning of a completely new era in European security.”
Clarke’s comments come after Putin and his forces unleashed a wave of missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian cities.
Missile and drone strikes launched on Tuesday hit power plants and civilian areas across Ukraine, while more power stations were targeted this morning.
The blasts followed a barrage which killed 19 and injured scores more in cities including Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Monday.
Prime minister Liz Truss and allies from the G7 democracies condemned the strikes in the “strongest possible terms”, adding that “indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilian populations constitute a war crime”.