Russia’s invasion plan ‘nowhere near running to schedule’ amid Ukrainian resistance, UK minister says

‘I think that will be a great cause of concern for president Putin’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Saturday 26 February 2022 09:19 GMT
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Russia’s invasion plan is “nowhere near running to schedule” due to fierce resistance from the Ukrainian people against the Kremlin’s advance, a UK armed forces minister has said.

On the third day of Vladimir Putin’s military offensive, James Heappey said more lethal and humanitarian aid would soon be delivered to Ukraine after a donors’ conference with 25 nations last night.

But with both sides suffering casualties, the minister described the situation as “war in all its horror”, and warned there was a “very, very real possibility” of heavier bombardment from the Russians.

“What stands in front of Ukraine is days and weeks more of utter brutality,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Mr Heappey also insisted that the UK government was continuing to press its allies for Russia to be banned from the global banking system Swift, which he described as the “ultimate economic sanction”.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly turned down the offer of evacuation flights from the US government, insisting he needed “ammunition, not a ride”.

The latest in a series of video updates from Mr Zelensky – released on Saturday morning – showed him standing across from the presidential office after surviving another night of assaults from Russia.

“Good morning everybody. Do not believe fake news. I am here,” he said. “We will not lay down our weapons; we will defend our country; our weapons are our strength. This is our land, our country, our children. We will protect all of them.”

Giving his latest assessment of the situation at the weekend, Mr Heappey also told Sky News: “The main armoured columns approaching Kyiv are still some way off.

This map details the progress of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during Thursday and Friday
This map details the progress of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during Thursday and Friday (Press Association Images)

“That is a testament to the incredible resistance the Ukrainian armoured forces have put up over the last 48 hours or so”.

He added: “Clearly the Russian plan is to take Kyiv but the reality is that the Ukrainians are thwarting them thus far. It looks like the Russian plan is nowhere near running to schedule.

“I think that will be a great cause of concern for President Putin and rather points to the fact that there was a lot of hubris in the Russian plan and that he may be awfully advised.”

Speaking on Saturday, the former UK ambassador to the US, Lord Kim Darroch, said Russia’s assault of Ukraine “will end badly” for Putin.

“This is such an irrational, random and high-risk act and you have to question whether he is acting rationally anymore,” he said.

Asked about Mr Putin’s state of mind, Lord Darroch told ITV News: “Ultimately, it’s impossible to answer at the moment because we can’t see inside his head.

“Look, he was a KGB operative who came up in the Soviet system and who is notorious for saying that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the worst day in world history, so we know where he’s coming from.

“But,” he added, “you saw that extraordinary performance with his National Security Council a few days ago, in which his behaviour looked, frankly, borderline unhinged. You saw the angry speech that he was making yesterday and you see what is going on now”.

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