| 23 February 2024, Friday |

UK says Russia plans to take whole of Ukraine but is failing

Russia aspires to take over the entire country of Ukraine, but the Russian army failed to meet its primary objectives on the first day of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, according to British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace on Friday.

Following Putin’s declaration of war, Russia started its invasion by land, air, and sea on Thursday, in the largest attack on a European state since World War II.

Missiles bombarded the Ukrainian capital on Friday as Russian soldiers advanced, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appealed with the international community to do more, saying the sanctions imposed thus far were insufficient.

“It’s definitely our view that the Russians intend to invade the whole of Ukraine,” Wallace told Sky.

Putin says Russia is carrying out “a special military operation” to stop the Ukrainian government from committing genocide against its own people – an accusation the West calls baseless. He also says Ukraine is an illegitimate state whose lands historically belong to Russia.

Wallace cast Putin, Russia’s paramount leader since 1999, as illogical.

“I certainly think he has gone full tonto,” Wallace said. “No-one else in their right mind would do what we are seeing on our telly screens today.”

Russia says Western leaders are gripped by Russophobia and that the United States and its allies have been plotting to undermine Russia for decades.


Wallace said the Russian army had failed to deliver any of its key objectives, directly contradicting the Russian defense ministry which said it had achieved all of its main aims on the first day of the military operation.

“Contrary to great Russian claims, and indeed President Putin’s sort of vision that somehow the Ukrainians would be liberated and would be flocking to his cause, he’s got that completely wrong, and the Russian army has failed to deliver, on day one, its main objective,” Wallace said.

Russia, Wallace said, had lost more than 450 personnel so far.

After Britain unveiled its toughest sanctions yet on Russia, Wallace said London was pushing reluctant allies to cut off Russia from the SWIFT global interbank payments system.

“We would like to go further, we’d like to do the SWIFT system,” he said. “If not every country wants them to be thrown out of the SWIFT system, it becomes difficult.”

British Airways owner IAG is now avoiding Russian airspace for overflights and cancelled its flight to Moscow on Friday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson banned Russia’s flagship airline Aeroflot from Britain, CEO Luis Gallego said.

Britain has prohibited all scheduled Russian airlines from entering British airspace.

  • Reuters