'We outgun him': Defence Sec 'not rattled' by Putin's nuke threat of 'lightning' strikes

28 April 2022, 09:25

By Sophie Barnett

The Defence Secretary has warned Nato can "outgun and outnumber" Vladimir Putin and said he is "not rattled" by his threats to step up weapons against anyone who "interferes".

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Ben Wallace told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast we have a "strong armed forces and nuclear deterrent" in the UK, as he responded to threats by Putin to unleash "lightning strikes" against allies of Ukraine.

He said: "We are part of a Nato partnership of 30 nations who outgun him, outnumber him and have potentially all the capabilities at our disposal.

"I don't fear him, and I think we should be very grateful in this country that we have a nuclear deterrent."

He said we must help the Ukrainian armed forces "get the limpet off the rock" and prevent the Russians putting down their routes and digging in to Ukraine.

Read more: Putin's nuke threat of 'lightning' strikes against countries that interfere in Ukraine

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His comments come after Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the West "must be prepared for the long haul" as she voiced concerns that the Russian invasion could last five to 10 years, warning Putin may inflict "untold further misery across Europe".

Responding to the reports, Mr Wallace warned Russia could look at another strategy if it recognises it is losing.

He warned it could "dig-in and fortify what it's got and make it some sort of frozen conflict".

"If you cast your mind back to 2014, having invaded, illegally, Crimea and the Donetsk, it [Russia] basically set up a line of defences and hunkered down and used snipers to pick off members of the Ukrainian army, 11,000 actually were killed over those sort of last eight years.

"It could definitely do that, and turn it effectively into a sort of slow-moving, frozen occupation, like a cancerous growth in Ukraine."

He claimed the Russians will "boast" they have captured the port city of Mariupol, which has seen some of the worst devastation since the war began.

But Mr Wallace said the Russians still don't have full control of the town, more than 60 days into the conflict.

He explained they are trying to secure the nearly 400km of road from the Russian border to Crimea to link up the two areas they invaded in 2014.

They will take some 'journalists' to Mariupol, who Mr Wallace says will tell the world the destruction was "caused by Nazis and Ukrainians".

Read more: Putin tests new 'Satan II' ballistic missile which Russia claims can hit anywhere on Earth

As 'Victory Day' in Russia on May 9 approaches, which commemorates the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945, Mr Wallace said Putin will try to muster more troops.

Nick asked the minister how he thinks Putin will reference the war in Ukraine at the annual parade.

"We have seen a number of statements from Putin about this becoming a war, 'this is a proxy war' - which it isn't - and 'Nazis are everywhere', basically, 'they are not just in Ukraine, Nato is full of Nazis'.

"I think he will try to move from his 'special operation'. He's been rolling the pitch, laying the ground for being able to say 'look, this is now a war against Nazis, and what I need is more people. I need more Russian cannon fodder'."

Mr Wallace said Putin's generals have "led so many to their deaths already".

"I would not be surprised, and I don't have any information about this, that he is probably going to declare on this May Day that 'we are now at war with the world's Nazis and we need to mass mobilise the Russian people'."

Mr Wallace slammed the "pathetic attempt" to cover up the fact his generals have "sent thousands of men to their deaths because of their incompetence and arrogance and his ego".

He added that to mass mobilise the Russian reserves is an "admission of failure".

And Mr Wallace doesn't feel "rattled" by Putin's latest warning of nuclear strikes on allies of Ukraine who "interfere" with the invasion.

The Russian President issued a chilling warning to legislators in a speech in St Petersburg threatening retaliatory strikes.

"If someone from the outside tries to intervene in Ukraine then our response will be lightning fast,” he said.

"We have all the weapons we need for this.

"No one else can brag about weapons, and we won’t brag about them. But we will use them."

His comments are understood to be a reference to the Sarmat or "Satan 2" missile that can carry a nuclear warhead at speeds of up to 16,000mph.