Russian President Vladimir Putin will have to face the reality that his invasion of Ukraine failed and that his country will emerge as a lesser power, Britain's defense secretary told reporters during a visit to Washington.
Russian forces are struggling to gain traction in a new offensive in eastern Ukraine, its forces are depleted and its economy is reeling under international sanctions, said Ben Wallace.
Wallace said that only President Putin knows where his off-ramp is going to be. He has to reconcile that he lost in the long run. So whatever happens in Ukraine, let s consider that Russia is a lesser country than before this invasion. Wallace, who was due to meet U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday, said Russian armed forces are worn out and Moscow will face difficulties shoring up its army, especially because of sanctions against Russia's ability to import Western technology needed for much of its military equipment.
Wallace said that Russian forces rely on outmoded tactics in the Donbas region, where the Kremlin has touted a major offensive. He said that Russians are using heavy, often inaccurate bombardment combined with the uncoordinated movement of ground troops.
They are making lots of mistakes, but their response is more barrage, more brutality, and more cannon fodder, Wallace said.
Wallace said that this was supposed to be the great repositioning, so far, not so good. They are still having a problem delivering the effect they want. Wallace said Britain's policy is to make sure Russia is defeated in Ukraine. If he was successful, ripples would be felt around the world. The U.S. and Britain believe that the most effective way to help Ukraine is to provide Russian-made Soviet military equipment compatible with what Ukrainian forces already have, Wallace said.
The defense ministry of the U.K. has focused on finding Russian-made hardware in countries around the world, but officials discovered Russia was looking to replenish its own stocks, Wallace said.
We bumped into Russians in some countries looking for some of the resupplies because that's what they're running out of fast. Wallace said in a speech on Monday at Britain's National Army Museum that Russia had botched the invasion of Ukraine, saying Russia's general staff are failing and they know it. Russian forces were so badly equipped that pilots were strapping GPS devices into their cockpits because they could not rely on their on-board navigation gear, he said.
GPS receivers were found taped to the dashboards of downed Russian SU-34 s so the pilots knew where they were due to the poor quality of their own systems, Wallace said.
Wallace told reporters in Washington that Russian military leaders made faulty assumptions about their equipment, intelligence and how the Ukrainians would respond.
There is one component left, which is brutality, that he Putin still has in his back pocket, Wallace said.
He said that the world cannot allow Russia to prevail using brutal methods with indiscriminate shelling and atrocities.
The British defense secretary also said Russia was more angered by tough economic sanctions than by weapons flowing to Ukraine's military.
They are not as agitated by lethal aid, as you would think. They are more agitated by sanctions because you can't hide that from your people. You can't hide your inflation.