War in Ukraine will last at least another year despite Putin’s failure, says Defence Secretary Ben Wallace

War in Ukraine will last at least another year despite Putin’s failure, says Defence Secretary Ben Wallace

Ukraine and Russia will still be at war in another 12 months, the Defence Secretary has warned as he accused Vladimir Putin of running a “meat grinder for an army”.

Almost 190,000 members of the Russian president’s forces are thought have been killed or wounded in Ukraine since the invasion began a year ago.

When asked whether the world would still be discussing the ongoing war in another year, Ben Wallace told LBC’s Nick Ferrari on Thursday: “I think we will.

“Russia has shown a complete disregard, not only for the lives of the people of Ukraine, but for its own soldiers.

“We are sitting here 12 months in and 188,000 Russian soldiers are dead or injured as a result of this catastrophic miscalculation and aggression by President Putin. When someone’s crossed the line that they think it’s okay to do that to your own people and is running effectively a meat grinder for an army, I think he’s not going to stop.”

Putin launched the biggest European invasion since the end of World War Two on February 24, 2022, sending up to 200,000 soldiers into Ukraine.

In the last year, at least 7,199 civilians have been killed and thousands injured, according to a United Nations estimate. The real number is likely to be much higher.

More than 13 million refugees have been forced to move abroad or displaced inside Ukraine.

The UK, US and Germany have committed to sending tanks to Ukraine to help in the fight aginst the Kremlin.

But Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has also asked for jets to help him win the battle in the skies.

Asked if Nato would consider sending aircraft, Mr Wallace said he could not see that happening in the "short or medium term".

He added: “Nato is not going to enter into this conflict....We're going to see countries who are members of NATO potentially put in Air Force equipment or, or MiG 29s."

Writing in Thursday’s Evening Standard, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK Vaydm Prystaiko thanked the UK for its support.

“With the help and generous support of our friends and partners, most notably the United Kingdom, last year Ukraine managed to inflict several devastating defeats upon the Russian army, and even liberated more than 6,000 square kilometres of our soil," he said.

“Therefore, thanks to the weaponry, humanitarian aid and financial support we have received, Ukraine has so far managed to counterbalance Russia’s numerical superiority, and even target multiple Russian logistical supply lines, ammunition depots, manpower concentrations and command centers.

“Vladimir Putin is terrified, and I want to emphasise once again that all this is possible because Ukraine has been receiving support from our partners, and especially from the Government of the UK and its generous, kind-hearted people.

"Your help became decisive for the protection of the civilian population and the existence of our state as an independent country."

On Thursday, the British Ministry of Defence said the town of Vuhledar, in southern Donetsk oblast, has experienced heavy shelling again.

“There is a realistic possibility that Russia is preparing for another offensive effort in this area despite costly failed attacks in early February and late 2022,” the MoD said in its morning briefing.

Russia’s Eastern Group of Forces is likely responsibility for the Vuhledar operation, British defence chiefs believe.

Its commander, Colonel General Rustam Muradov, is “likely under intense pressure to improve results following harsh criticism from the Russian nationalist community after previous setbacks", according to the MoD.

“However, it is unlikely that Muradov has a striking force capable of achieving a breakthrough."