Russian reservists will ‘suffer horribly’ in Ukraine after Vladimir Putin’s mobilisation order, warns Armed Forces minister James Heappey – while Boris Johnson tells Russian President his countrymen ‘have no desire to be sacrificed on the altar of his ego’
After being forced onto the back foot by recent Ukrainian advances, the Russian President has called up thousands of extra troops to join his faltering invasion effort.
Speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon, Armed Forces minister James Heappey described how ‘rattled’ Mr Putin’s action was an acknowledgement of Russia’s ‘failure’.
The partial mobilisation, which applies to 300,000 military reservists, has forced the Kremlin to conduct a brutal crackdown of protests against the move in Russian cities.
Mr Heappey, who noted how 25,000 Russians have already died during the Ukraine conflict, told MPs that Moscow was now condemning hundreds of thousands more troops to a miserable winter.
‘Russian conscripts are going to suffer horribly for the Kremlin’s hubris,’ the minister added.
Ex-prime minister Boris Johnson, speaking in the same Commons debate, branded ‘weak’ Mr Putin as a ‘problem gambler’ taking greater risks because he is ‘terrified of losing.
The former premier highlighted how the price of one-way plane tickets from Moscow to South Africa rocketed yesterday because potential Russian conscripts ‘have no desire to be sacrificed on the altar of his (Mr Putin’s) ego’.
At one point, Mr Johnson misspoke and thanked the ‘inspirational leadership of Vladimir Putin’ before quickly correcting himself and saying Volodymyr Zelensky.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called up thousands of extra troops to join his faltering invasion effort
Armed Forces minister James Heappey described how ‘rattled’ Mr Putin’s action was an acknowledgement of Russia’s ‘failure’
Ex-PM Boris Johnson branded ‘weak’ Mr Putin as a ‘problem gambler’ taking greater risks because he is ‘terrified of losing
The Russian President’s announcement of partial mobilisation was accompanied by fresh threats of nuclear war towards Ukraine and its Western allies.
But Mr Heappey today dismissed Mr Putin’s ‘sabre-rattling’ as the ‘act of a desperate man who knows this is not going his way’.
‘We believe that it is sabre-rattling and we believe it is designed to try and put a wedge amongst the cohesion of the Western alliance and to deter us from supporting Ukraine at the exact moment Ukrainian troops seem to have the upper hand,’ he told MPs.
The Armed Forces minister informed the Commons that Russia had suffered 25,000 dead, with tens of thousands injured and tens of thousands more troops having deserted.
He added that Mr Putin had also seen his war machine suffer the destruction of 3,000 armoured and protected vehicles, more than 400 artillery pieces decimated and scores of fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) downed.
‘Seven months into this conflict, Russia lacks sufficient manpower in the field to achieve any of its objectives and the mood of Moscow is changing quickly,’ Mr Heappey said.
He claimed the Russian President and the country’s defence minister Sergey Shoigu had ‘backed themselves into a corner’.
‘They have sent tens of thousands of their own citizens to their deaths, ill-equipped and badly led,’ the minister continued.
‘They’re now to send hundreds of thousands more with little training and no winter uniform into the teeth of the Ukrainian winter against an opponent that is well-motivated, well-equipped and succeeding.’
‘Neither Putin nor Shoigu’s lies, threats and propaganda can disguise the truth: Russian conscripts are going to suffer horribly for the Kremlin’s hubris.’
Mr Johnson, who was widely praised for his efforts in supporting Ukraine while he was PM, told MPs that Britain must be prepared to give more military and economic assistance.
‘At this turning point in the war, it is more vital than ever that we have the strategic patience to hold our nerve and ensure that the Ukrainians succeed in recapturing their territory, right to the borders of 24th February,’ he said.
‘And, if possible, to the pre-2014 boundaries because that is what international law demands.’
Mr Johnson claimed Mr Putin’s mobilisation order had caused ‘panic among people about to be fed into the meat-grinder of Putin’s warzone’.
‘Yesterday, in a single day, the price of a one-way air ticket from Moscow to South Africa went up to $50,000,’ he added.
‘Because those potential conscripts can see that what began as a war to rebuild the Soviet empire has collapsed into a shameful war to save Putin’s face.
‘And they have no desire to be sacrificed on the alter of his ego.’