Nato risks a nuclear war with Russia within a year if it does not increase its defence capabilities in the Baltic states, one of the alliance’s most senior retired generals has said. General Sir Richard Shirreff, who served as Nato’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander in Europe between 2011 and 2014, said that an attack on Estonia, Lithuania or Latvia – all Nato members – was a serious possibility and that the West should act now to avert “potential catastrophe”.

He has written a fictional book 2017: War with Russia, but told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the events it describes were “entirely plausible”. General Shirreff said: “The chilling fact is that because Russia hardwires nuclear thinking and capability to every aspect of their defence capability, this would be nuclear war.” READ MORE