Ukraine war: Truss wants to supply Kyiv with heavy weapons to secure victory - but losing is not an option for Putin

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When your dangerous enemy is on the backfoot do you keep on beating him down or allow him a dignified retreat?

"Double down" says Liz Truss and Ben Wallace are clearly on the hawkish end of the argument.

Russia should be pushed out of Ukraine entirely they say.

Including Crimea which Russia annexed in 2014 in a move not internationally recognised. Even if the defence secretary concedes there is a long way to go before Ukraine takes back Crimea.

Their supporters will say strength and defiance are the only languages Vladmir Putin will listen to.

Ms Truss says Putin is a "desperate rogue operator with no interest in international norms".

'Credible information' Russia executed Ukrainians trying to surrender - Ukraine news live

She wants Ukraine supplied with heavy weapons to secure its victory.

On the same day, the Russian leader warned against other countries intervening in the conflict threatening retaliatory strikes that will be "lightning fast".

"We will use them if necessary," he said, "and I want everyone to know that".

The thinly veiled implication is that Russia has more aces to play. Mr Putin has already threatened the use of nuclear weapons.

But Ms Truss is in no mood to give the Russians a quarter.

"This is a time for courage not for caution," she says.

Critics question if this is clever diplomacy.

Read more: Allies must 'double down' with heavy weapons and air power, says foreign secretary

Some analysts believe Mr Putin needs to be given a face-saving ladder to climb down, not further incendiary rhetoric to justify continuing the war.

Hardline commentary from western politicians they say will help his media mouthpieces peddle the line NATO is out to destroy Russia.

But that is assuming he wants a way out. Losing is not an option for Mr Putin.

It will weaken him politically and potentially fatally. There is little to point to as a victory so far, unless he plants a flag in the rubble of Mariupol and call it a triumph.

Read more: Ben Wallace backs Liz Truss and says Russia should be pushed out of 'the whole of Ukraine' - including Crimea

The alternative though is a long grinding war of attrition. Military experts say that could take months, Ms Truss says years.

It would require general conscription given Russia's troop losses so far. For that to happen, Mr Putin must almost certainly declare war as opposed to the "special military operation" he says he has been fighting.

That path is potentially dangerous given the likely massive loss of life. It will be a huge gamble for the Russian president and western politicians are doing their utmost to deter him from taking it.

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