The Defence of Europe conference, co-hosted by Reaction and King’s College London on 9 May, attracted an attendance of eminent geopolitical thinkers and defence strategists, resulting in many useful insights into the requirements for European and wider-world security, and the best strategies for creating a reliable defence structure. The topicality of the discussion was highlighted by the fact that it took place while Vladimir Putin was presiding at an attenuated Victory Day parade in Moscow’s Red Square and while Ukrainian forces were forcing back the Russian Army from Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv.

In these tragic times, it may seem that jaw-jaw, to reverse Churchill’s maxim, must take second place to war-war; but the reality is that, if we are to guarantee the continuing security of the West, we must map out a practical and well-considered route to a comprehensive defence system. Speaking at the conference, Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace said that NATO needs a plan: “Whatever happens in Ukraine, Putin will still be there. The question is how do we contain Russia, reassure and provide assistance to allies.”

The Defence Secretary, however, was undecided on the use of any extra funding that might be allocated to his department: “If I got some new money, will I treble the size of the infantry? I am not quite sure.”