Tory MP claims it is ‘extremely unlikely’ Ukraine will win against Russia

A Conservative former minister has claimed it is “extremely unlikely” that Ukraine will succeed against Russia, as he urged MPs to be realistic.

During a debate on Ukraine, Sir Edward Leigh argued that “America could’ve won this war by now” if it had armed Ukraine sufficiently.

Sir Edward said current resources are not enough for Ukraine to win, before revealing he is prepared to send UK troops to fight and put the UK’s economy on a war footing.

The Gainsborough MP said: “It is extremely unlikely, sadly, that Ukraine can win this war.

“If we’re going to win this war, we have to be prepared to give the resources necessary to do so. And the truth is that such is the overwhelming predominance of the American industrial military estate that they could’ve won this war by now.

“America could’ve armed Ukraine to such an extent that it could’ve won, America could’ve allowed Ukraine to use their weapons to bombard Russian forces within Russia.

“America does not want Ukraine to humiliate Russia and win this war, America does not want Ukraine to lose the war, America could’ve won this war by now.”

He added: “Deep down, look into your hearts, is there actually anybody sitting in this chamber – I’m not saying what they say publicly, but what they say privately – does anybody sitting in this chamber actually think now that Ukraine is going to win this war?”

MPs from across the opposition benches could be heard saying “yes”, as Sir Edward continued: “How? Given the huge mismatch in resources between Russia and Ukraine, given the fact that America apparently is not prepared to furnish Ukraine with sufficient (arms) to ensure this, how are we going to win it?

Sir Edward Leigh
Conservative former minister Sir Edward Leigh (Richard Townshend/PA)

“I’m with you all, I’m quite prepared to put our own economy on a war footing, I’m even prepared to send our own troops to Ukraine, I’m prepared to spend less on all the things that I value like health and justice and all the rest of it, but we have to be realistic.”

Defence minister Leo Docherty said: “(Sir Edward) made a provocative but very sincere speech and he asked the question, do we have the resolve to win? And I think the House answered that question with a resounding yes, we do have that resolve.”

Earlier in the debate, Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) highlighted the recent appointment of Andrei Belousov as Russian defence minister as a sign of weakness in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government as he warned that assassination may be used as a “hybrid warfare” tactic.

He said: “Any changed programme, and Belousov’s appointment indicates a significant change in Russia, creates a temporary weakness in the organisation being changed.

“Russia is compensating for this weakness by stepping up hybrid warfare attacks on the West which could include assassination.”

Sir Bernard went on to describe a stalemate between Russia and Ukraine as “an unthinkable prospect”, adding: “A stalemate will be a victory for Putin. He would be holding territory that he has claimed illegally.”

Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds) said: “The UK and US have provided strong support for Ukraine but there have been limitations and critical delays, as others have said, in providing weapons and equipment needed. We are at a point where this war is dragging on with limited and slow advances on both sides.

“The West has provided enough support for the Ukrainians to defend themselves but not enough to make decisive advances, let alone enough to end the war. We must decide with our allies if we step up this support now, to persuade the Russians to withdraw from Ukraine.

“What we should not do is allow a war in Europe to drag on many years and become a frozen conflict. This will cause an increased death toll, damage to Ukraine infrastructure and an impact on our own and other western economies.”