Ben Wallace today claimed Vladimir Putin is “losing slowly” in his botched invasion of Ukraine. The Defence Secretary made the comments during a visit to the Lydd Army camp in Kent, where Ukrainian volunteers are being trained to fight in the war against Russia.
Addressing troops directly, Mr Wallace described Russia as “losing slowly” nine months in.
The former soldier also vowed that Britain will continue to support them and insisted the UK does not fear reprisals from Moscow.
Speaking to the media, he said: “Russia has been an active adversary of Britain for many years – many will remember the Salisbury poisoning, where they deployed nerve agents.
“Russia has been regularly behind cyber attacks in this country.
“Of course Russia doesn’t like the fact the United Kingdom is standing up against it – we’re standing up for the values of freedom, democracy and human rights, but that isn’t going to put us off.
“We’re going to continue to support Ukraine, to defend its sovereign territory against an illegal invasion, and we’ll just carry on doing it.
“Britain stands for more than a small moment in time, Britain stands for those enduring human rights.”
Mr Wallace also addressed the prospect of Rishi Sunak abandoning the Government’s current Nato spending target of 3 percent as the Prime Minister looks to plug a £60 billion black hole in the public finances.
The Defence Secretary said: “My determination is to deliver a modernised Ministry of Defence and armed forces and continue to invest in them, and therefore I need that capability to do so.
“Three or 2.5 percent targets at the end of the decade are not something that’s right in front of me in the here and now.
“In the here and now I need continued investment to not only support Ukraine but also for that vital modernisation.
“We’ll take each budget as it comes; there’ll be a budget some time in the spring and we’re negotiating for the short period of time between now and then to protect us from the impacts of inflation.”
Mr Wallace added that he is confident the US will continue to support efforts in Ukraine amid fears some Republicans could row back.
He said: “It’s only a small wing of the Republicans; I’ve spoken to a number of Republicans and they all see the importance of what’s going on in Ukraine.
“We don’t see any real change in the United States’ support for Ukraine and support for the international efforts.”
It comes as the PM today welcomed Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg to No 10.
Mr Sunak said the military alliance is a “cornerstone” of the UK’s security.
He told Mr Stoltenberg: “It’s wonderful to welcome you to the UK but also to Downing Street. Thank you for being here:
“You’ll know that the Nato alliance is a cornerstone of the UK’s security, we’re proud to be the second-largest contributor, and we remain extremely committed to the alliance.
“I also know under your leadership that Nato will continue to evolve to face the new threats that we’re all seeing, and (we will) of course work with you and other allies to support Ukraine against Russian aggression.”
Mr Stoltenberg thanked Mr Sunak for the UK’s “strong support” of Nato.
As the pair prepared to continue their discussions this afternoon, Mr Sunak said: “Lots for us to talk about so let’s get on with it.”