Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said the invasion in Ukraine “is not going well” for the Kremlin, with Russia’s military might not proving as strong as expected in the face of the Ukrainian resistance.
Asked on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme whether Russia taking over Ukraine was “inevitable”, Sir Tony said: “No. I think we’ve seen a Russian invasion that is not going well.
“I think we’re also seeing remarkable resistance by Ukraine, both its armed forces and its people, and we’re seeing the unity of the whole globe coming together, applying pressure to Russia.
“Russia is suffering, Russia is an isolated power. It is less powerful than it was 10 days ago.
“Some of the lead elements of Russian forces have been decimated by the Ukrainian response.
“You’ve also seen basic failures in terms of maintenance and their kit failing.
“Russia hasn’t operated at this scale since the Second World War and it is incredibly complex and difficult.”
Sir Tony told the broadcaster morale in the Russian forces was low and that the Kremlin had lost more troops in a week than the UK did in 20 years in Afghanistan.
But he warned Russian aggression could be ramped up with more indiscriminate killing.
“I think there is a real risk because Russia is struggling with its objectives on the ground in Ukraine - and we’ve seen from Russia’s previous actions in Syria and in Chechnya - where it will turn up the violence, it will lead to more indiscriminate killing and more indiscriminate destruction,” he said.
“We have to keep applying the pressure to Russia that this is outrageous and that the sense that because your invasion isn’t going very well, that you just become more and more reckless in applying violence is totally unacceptable.”
Sir Tony also contradicted foreign secretary Liz Truss as he urged Britons not to head to Ukraine to fight, saying it was “unlawful and unhelpful”.
He said: “We’ve been very clear that it’s unlawful as well as unhelpful for UK military and for the UK population to start going towards Ukraine in that sense.
“Support from the UK, support in whatever way you can. But this isn’t really something that you want to rush to in terms of the sound of gunfire. This is about sensible support based in the UK.”
Asked if Ms Truss should therefore not have said she would support anyone who wanted to fight, he added: “I think she was reflecting (that) she could and that we can all understand that sentiment, and that sentiment needs to be channelled into support for Ukraine.”
He said a no-fly zone over Ukraine - repeatedly called for by Kyiv - would not help those on the ground and could escalate the conflict.
“The advice that we as senior military professionals are giving our politicians is to avoid doing things that are tactically ineffective and definitely to avoid doing things that tactically might lead to miscalculation or escalation,” said Sir Tony.
“The no-fly zone would not help. Most of the shelling is coming from artillery, most of the destruction is coming from artillery, it’s not coming from Russian aircraft.”
The Russian defence ministry said would halt the ongoing firing in Ukraine to open humanitarian corridors on Monday.
Civilians from Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and Sumy can leave today after French president Emmanuel Macron’s request, officials said.
It comes shortly after the ceasefire agreement between Russia and Ukraine failed over the weekend due to escalating violence and shelling, sending Ukrainians back inside their homes.
Eight Ukrainian civilians - including a family with two young children - were killed as they attempted to flee a suburb of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.
The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.
Additional reporting by Press Association
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