Russian soldiers are being sent to war in Ukraine with “no socks and rusty guns”, Ben Wallace has said. The Defence Secretary branded Vladimir Putin’s invasion “spectacularly unsuccessful” during an appearance before the Lords Defence and International Relations Committee today.
Mr Wallace said Russia is “losing” the war with its troops suffering from “very low morale” as Ukraine continues its fierce counter-offensive in the south and east.
He said: “If you stop the clock now Putin is losing. Ukraine maintains the momentum, it is continuing to take land back from Russian occupation, it is inflicting significant harm on the Russian army and air force.
“The direction of travel is that I think it is likely that by the end of this month the northern part of Kherson will be depleted of Russians or the Russians will have left that part, which brings into range parts of Crimea from long-range artillery that the Ukrainians held or the HIMARS-type systems.
“And in the east Ukraine made significant advances a few weeks ago and they continue to push and press on the Russian forces who are suffering poor resupply, running out of complex weapons significantly, very low morale, desertions, people being mobilised and within days being sent to the frontline, many of whom are dying, no food, no socks, no basic equipment, rusty guns.
“It is in a sense criminal that their generals have sent them to war that way. So the momentum is with Ukraine.”
Mr Wallace said he expects Ukrainian forces to continue their fierce resistance despite a freezing winter looming.
The Defence Secretary said: “We have always said we wish to support and help Ukraine to defend their sovereign nation and that Putin should fail in Ukraine and that it is for Ukraine to decide from a position of strength when it wishes to negotiate or what it wishes to negotiate.
“I think that is important that it is Ukraine’s choice, it’s not ours, we shouldn’t be pulling strings on Ukraine and they are in a current position of strength.
“How far they wish to push that is entirely up to them and we will stand by them as does the international community.
“The future obviously we have the winter coming up, I don’t actually expect the Ukrainians to stop in the winter, these are hardy soldiers and that is their part of the world and I don’t think they’ll just stop, they’ll continue to press.
“And of course the Ukrainians are now better equipped than the Russians in many areas so I think the war will go on. The question then becomes the race for resupply.”
Mr Wallace added: “Putin’s ambition to occupy the whole of Ukraine hasn’t depleted, it’s just spectacularly unsuccessful, but that hasn’t gone away.”
The Defence Secretary said that while Russia’s the size of Russia’s army was large it was lacking in other areas.
He added: “Russia has put probably nearly all its land forces now into Ukraine. It committed about 65 percent of its forces, hugely outnumbered the Ukrainians.
“In Open Source it refers to they’ve lost 7,000 armoured vehicles, 2,000 tanks.
“It had all the size of the world, but it didn’t have the innovation advantage, it didn’t have the integration capability, it didn’t have the protection, it didn’t have basics for its soldiers in being able to communicate with each other and protect themselves.
“It didn’t have effectively a 360 capability which goes to this question of would you rather be medium or small and perfectly formed, or would you be very large and just get flattened on the road to Kyiv.
“So the answer on force size to some extent is demonstrated that the Russians took the bet on force size and hollowed out its capability to do other stuff.
“Add to that very appalling leadership and you end up where they were.”