Ben Wallace: Vladimir Putin knows he is no longer invincible
In an interview with The Standard, the cabinet minister also stressed that the international community must defeat Putin’s invasion to show that wars cannot be won by “pushing millions into a meat grinder with no rules, no respect for human lives”.
Following training by the UK and its allies, he also argued that now “the basic Ukrainian soldier is better than the basic Russian soldier”, given the scale of the losses suffered by the Putin’s professional army and the deployment of tens of thousands of poorly trained soldiers to the front line after his 300,000 partial mobilizations.
When asked how he thought the conflict would end, Wallace replied, “I don’t know. I mean, the superpowers have already lost wars: the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the United States in Vietnam. It is not uncommon for great powers to have to come to terms with a defeat in a neighboring country, or in another country in which they are engaged.
Asked if he thought a superpower would lose again, he added: “Well it’s not a superpower, it’s what he just found out. This is the key.
“Part of it is like you believe your own hype, you believe the hype of your parade ground, you’ve counted floats on the parade ground and assume you’re invincible and you don’t you’re not.”
He thinks Putin’s forces are losing in Ukraine on “their military capabilities” and the flawed “strategic assumptions” of their leaders.
“At every turn people have underestimated Ukraine and overestimated Russia,” he said. “But he has in his back pocket millions of people that he can put through a meat grinder with no rules, no regard for human lives and innocents and civilians.
“If this succeeds, it will send a message around the world that this is how you win wars. We, the international community, cannot accept this.
As Putin continues to threaten to use nuclear weapons, more than 50 countries have gathered on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels starting today to discuss strengthening Ukraine’s air defences, two days after Russian missiles slammed into cities including Kyiv in retaliation with the Kerch Bridge, linking Crimea to Russia, being partially destroyed. Former Scots Guards officer Mr Wallace, 52, said: ‘President Putin should be clear that for the UK and our allies any use of nuclear weapons would break a taboo of the nuclear use that has existed since 1945 and would have serious consequences for Russia.”
The West maintains a “deliberate” ambiguity about how it would react on the basis that it is better not to “denounce” the measures that would be taken, but even China and India should condemn a nuclear strike by Putin.
The Ukrainian counteroffensive in the northeast had “to some extent slowed down,” the defense secretary added, but was still making “significant progress” in threatening supply lines, including railroads, which the Russians are “desperately relying on”.
In the southern province of Kherson, Mr Wallace said more than 40 days into the counteroffensive, Ukrainian troops were “making progress, slowly but surely”. With thousands of heavily equipped Russian soldiers entrenched on the right bank of the Dnipro, the advance was “hard work”.
However, Mr Wallace added: “We are quite confident that Ukraine is still on the right track and that Russia is facing catastrophic loss of morale, poor equipment, a significant shortage of ammunition stocks and to political tensions.
“His (Putin’s) strategic assumptions seem wrong everywhere. Even yesterday (Monday), firing rare missiles at random civilian locations, when you should be firing them at military targets, is not a strategic or smart use of your limited resources.
With a harsh winter approaching, Ukrainian troops would be better equipped than many Russian soldiers, including night sights, better radios and warm clothing.
As tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers are offered a five-week training course in Britain, Mr Wallace said he thought “without a doubt” that “the basic Ukrainian soldier is better than the Russian soldier of base” now. “If you compare what the Russians did…it’s outrageous, mobilized troops sent to the front, captured almost in days, poor equipment, rusty magazines, if any training took place,” he said. -he declares.
“If you have spoken to the soldiers, the professional officer corps is really very angry … about the total lack of professionalism of the leadership which results in Russian soldiers being killed by the thousands. If their army had any decency, these generals would be court-martialed and imprisoned for what they did to their people.
Britain has previously estimated that up to 80,000 Russian troops have been killed, maimed, wounded, deserted or missing since Mr Putin launched his invasion on February 24, with Ukrainian forces suffering heavy casualties, and thousands, if not tens of thousands, of civilians were also killed.
Asked if there is an “exit ramp” for Mr Putin to end the war, Mr Wallace replied: “Leave Ukraine”.
But he stressed: “There is no exit ramp that he has been oblivious to.
“When you keep doing it…he’s all in.”
Britain led efforts to maintain Western unity in response to the invasion, even as Putin cut off gas flows. The UK will continue to supply missiles for the air defense platforms sent to Ukraine.
Mr. Wallace added: “Ukrainians are showing success. It’s quite difficult for Ukrainians to suddenly decide that they are going to give it up. How far they go in their successes is up to the Ukrainians. The West’s resolve is to help Ukraine to have a strong position to choose its future.