Occupying Ukraine an ‘ impossible task’ and will mark ‘Putin’s end’, Ben Wallace insists

Russian leader is a ‘spent force in the world’, defence secretary says

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 08 March 2022 09:25
Comments
Russia ‘built itself a trap’ in Ukraine and are ‘getting desperate’, Ben Wallace says

Occupying Ukraine and its 44 million citizens will be an “impossible task” for Russia and will mark Vladimir Putin’s “end”, Ben Wallace has insisted.

With the invasion now its 13th day, the defence secretary said the indiscriminate shelling of the civilian population showed that Kremlin forces were becoming increasingly “desperate” in the country.

He stressed the cost for Putin would not just be in the invasion, with thousands of Russian casualties already reported, but in the “decades of occupation which I don’t think he’ll be able to sustain”.

“This will be Putin’s end, this country,” he said. “So it should be because of not only their spirit and their moral component they have their side — the Ukrainians — but also because it will be an impossible task to occupy such a people and a country”.

“I think we are seeing his forces already exhausted and if you think it takes 150,000, as he think it does, to invade a country where he was arrogantly thinking they would welcome him as a liberator, you try occupying a country the size of France and Germany put together with 44 million”.

He later told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “He [Putin] is done, he is a sent force in the world. No one will be taking his phone calls in the long term.

“He has exhausted his army, he’s responsible for thousands of Russian soldiers being killed, responsible for innocent civilians being killed in Ukraine.

Asked how the war will end, Mr Wallace said: “Either when the Russian forces are so stuck and defeated that the Russian armed forces effectively turn in on itself and the generals get blamed and then it grinds to a halt, or Russia imposes its total will, which it is already trying to do by trying to break the people of Ukraine.

Cumulative refugee arrivals from Ukraine in neighbouring countries

“Putin won’t break the people of Ukraine but... he is doing everything he can to break the country’s infrastructure and their supply lines for food.”

The remarks from the cabinet minister come as the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, prepares to make a historic virtual address to the House of Commons.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he had granted the request for Mr Zelensky to read a statement on the invasion by Russia in the chamber at 5pm.

The leader, whose has won praise for his stirring messages to the Ukrainian people in military fatigues, will be beamed in on TV screens seen by MPs.

Sir Lindsay said: “Every parliamentarian wants to hear directly from the president, who will be speaking to us live from Ukraine, so this is an important opportunity for the House. Thanks again to our incredible staff for working at pace to make this historic address possible.”

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