NATIONS are teetering on the brink of world war as Putin’s aggression in Ukraine continues, a former Navy chief warned after Poland was accidentally hit by a missile.

Former admiral Lord West of Spithead spent 41 years in the Navy, rising to the role of First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, before being appointed a Labour peer upon his retirement.

He warned that “mistakes” such as the missile fired into Poland will continue to occur during the war in Ukraine and risk escalation into a worldwide conflict.

He warned the Government that it needs to invest in the UK’s own defences in preparation for such an event, as well as continuing to supply Ukrainian forces.

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Lord West said: “We have been teetering on the brink, possibly, of there being a world war.

“Nobody wants that to happen, but mistakes and errors and miscalculations occur.

“Does the minister not agree that, on that basis, bearing in mind that this has been happening for several months, that our armed forces should be in a position where they can move seamlessly into an alliance that has to be in a position to fight that world war?

“And does he believe that the investment we have put into defence in that last few months has put us in that position?

“The war now has been raging in Ukraine for several months and the danger of armed conflict is that you can get unplanned escalation.

The National: Lord West warned that mistakes and errors could lead to warLord West warned that mistakes and errors could lead to war (Image: PA)

“And there have been a number of incidents, actually, that could have led to that unplanned escalation, including the one in Poland that we are just discussing. That would lead to world war.

“We are having to replenish our own stocks, we are providing stuff to Ukraine, it seems extraordinary that in as many months we have not actually increased our defence spending.

“It could easily tip over to world war. There are real pressures, we’ve got real problems within the defence forces and we really need to do something.

“Not only have we not done anything so far, but actually it sounds as though we are about to cut defence spending, which is extraordinary in the world we’re in.”

His words come as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt warned, as he announced his autumn statement, that the UK is set to face spending cuts, as well as tax rises.

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Foreign Office minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said the UK Government is committed to its own defence and support for Nato partners, as well as being a leader in military and humanitarian support to Ukraine.

On the subject of world war, he said: “We don’t want to venture into what an escalation should look like, we’ve seen the dangers of that.”

However, he acknowledged that the war in Ukraine could “escalate very quickly”.

He said the UK will continue to support Ukraine military – £2.3 billion for next year – and that it would “keep a close watch on our own assets” and the need to replenish stocks.