‘We’re not going anywhere Mr Putin’, says Ben Wallace as UK pledges 600 more missiles for Ukraine

Britain is to send 600 more Brimstone missiles to Ukraine, Ben Wallace announced on Thursday as he stress: “We are not going anywhere Mr Putin”.

The Defence Secretary emphasised that the West will back Kyiv for the long-term and the Russian president needed to “recalculate” his failing invasion plans and withdraw from Ukraine.

He stressed the Allies’ aim this year was to help to turn Ukrainian successes so far “into gains and make sure Russia understands that the purpose now is to push them back out” of the country.

Speaking at a meeting of defence ministers at the Tapa army base in Estonia, he outlined how the UK had delivered a series of military packages to Ukraine during 2022.

Earlier this week, Britain also announced a squadron of Challenger II tanks would be supplied to Kyiv, as well at least three batteries of AS90-155 long range deep fire artillery, and armoured vehicles including the Bulldog.

“We are also going to send another 600 Brimstone missiles into theatre (which are) incredibly important in helping Ukraine dominate the battlefield,” added Mr Wallace.

Britain and other allies were also seeking to train 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers, he explained, ahead of a meeting in Germany to co-ordinate more military support for Kyiv.

“So if the message from this is one thing it’s ‘we are not going anywhere Mr Putin,’” stressed Mr Wallace.

“We are here for the long haul. We are standing by Ukraine.

“You need to recalculate, you need to make a change, you need to leave Ukraine, return it to its sovereign borders and uphold the international law that you say you respect.”

Both Ukraine and Russia are planning for spring offensives.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is pleading with the West to supply his military with hundreds of tanks which could prove decisive in turning the conflict against Russia which suffered a series of setbacks last year, including being forced to retreat from Kherson in the south and in parts of the north east of the country.

Mr Wallace stressed that Putin had underestimated the strength of Ukrainian resistance and wrongly believed that the West would cut back its support as he waged economic war on Europe by fuelling energy bills.

“2023 is about demonstrating to Putin that the international community is more than ever determined to stand by Ukraine, to see it through,” the Defence Secretary added.

“If president Putin is banking on us getting bored this year, he is wrong.

“We will plan for this year, and next year, and the year after and beyond.

“We are in it for the long haul.

“But in 2023 it’s time to turn the momentum that the Ukrainians have achieved in pushing back Russia into gains and making sure that Russia understands that the purpose now is to push them back out of Ukraine and to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty which is their right under international law, it’s their right in being able to defend themselves and it is also in their right because it’s the same right we all enjoy as free members of Europe to hold up to human rights and international standards.”

Senior ministers from America, Britain and other allies are to meet at the US Ramstein air base in Germany on Friday to discuss boosting military equipment for Kyiv.

France is considering sending Leclerc tanks.

Poland is ready to supply German-built Leopard tanks.

But Germany is refusing to give approval for such a move, or to send Leopards itself, if America does not supply Abrams tanks.

Washington says Abrams are not suitable for use in Ukraine and that Kyiv’s supply resources would struggle to be able to fuel and maintain them.

Denmark said on Thursday it will donate 19 French-made Caesar howitzer artillery systems to Ukraine

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow would do all it could to "sober up" the European Union and NATO, which he accused of setting out to weaken and defeat Russia.