Ukraine war: Ben Wallace says 15,000 Russian troops dead as UK to send anti-aircraft vehicles

Ukraine war: Ben Wallace says 15,000 Russian troops dead as UK to send anti-aircraft vehicles

He told the House of Commons that latest estimates suggest more than 2,000 Russian armoured vehicles have been destroyed or captured – including at least 530 tanks, 530 armoured personnel carriers and 560 infantry fighting vehicles.

Mr Putin had also seen the loss of more than 60 helicopters and fighter jets, as well as the sinking of its Black Sea fleet flagship, the Moskva, Mr Wallace said.

It was noted that Russia’s death toll in Ukraine was now more than double the number of US casualties during the conflicts in both Afghanistan and Iraq, waged as part America’s ‘war on terror’ since the 2001 attacks on New York.

The Defence Secretary told MPs that Russia had seen more than a quarter of the 120 battalion tactical groups (BTGs) it initially committed to the Ukraine invasion now rendered ‘not combat effective’.

He said the beginning of Mr Putin’s invasion had seen the Russian President commit approximately 65% of his entire ground combat strength.

Defence experts say most Russian BTGs have between 700 to 800 personnel, but a few have around 900 troops.

Mr Wallace also confirmed to MPs that Britain was increasing its support for Ukraine by gifting Kyiv a small number of ‘Stormer’ armoured vehicles fitted with launchers for anti-air missiles.

He told MPs this would give Ukraine’s military ‘enhanced short-range anti-air capabilities both day and night’.

A Stomer vehicle fires a Starstreak high-velocity missile during a training exercise. A number of these British vehicles have now been sent to Ukraine
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A Stomer vehicle fires a Starstreak high-velocity missile during a training exercise. A number of these British vehicles have now been sent to Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has now seen the loss of around 15,000 Russian troops since he began his invasion of Ukraine
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has now seen the loss of around 15,000 Russian troops since he began his invasion of Ukraine

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, in the first 61 days of the conflict, Russia ‘has so far failed in nearly every one of its objectives’
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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, in the first 61 days of the conflict, Russia ‘has so far failed in nearly every one of its objectives’

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The latest donation has followed a recent visit by members of the Ukrainian government to Salisbury Plains, where they were able to view what more British kit could be supplied.

In total, the UK has provided more than 5,000 anti-tank weapons, five air defence systems – with more than 100 missiles, 1,360 anti-structural munitions and 4.5 tonnes of plastic explosives, Mr Wallace said.

He added that British ‘Starstreak’ high-velocity and low-velocity anti-air missiles had now been in use by Ukrainian forces after being delivered to the country more than three weeks ago.

Mr Wallace said, in the first 61 days of the conflict, Russia ‘has so far failed in nearly every one of its objectives’.

He described how Mr Putin was now regrouping his forces with an aim of further invading eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

‘We anticipate this next phase of the invasion will be an attempt by Russia to occupy further the Donbas and connect via Mariupol the Crimea,’ Mr Wallace told the Commons.

‘So it is urgent we in the international community ensure Ukraine gets the aid and weapons it so much needs.’

He praised Ukraine as ‘an inspiration to us all’ after they had ‘beaten back the army of Russia in the north and the north east’.

Flames light up the night sky over Bryansk, a Russian city some 70 miles from the Ukraine border, after suspected Ukrainian missile strikes hit oil storage facilities there overnight
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Flames light up the night sky over Bryansk, a Russian city some 70 miles from the Ukraine border, after suspected Ukrainian missile strikes hit oil storage facilities there overnight

Two columns of thick black smoke rise into the morning air over the Russian city of Bryansk after two oil storage facilities caught fire
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Two columns of thick black smoke rise into the morning air over the Russian city of Bryansk after two oil storage facilities caught fire

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The Defence Secretary’s update to MPs came after suspected Ukrainian missile strikes blew up two oil storage facilities supplying Russian troops fighting for control of Donbas.

The Transneft-Druzhba Oil Depot, located in the city of Bryansk around 70 miles from the Ukrainian border, caught fire at 2am local time before a second fire broke out at a nearby military facility around 15 minutes later, Russian state media said this morning.

Video of the moment one of the fires broke out appeared to capture the sound of an incoming missile before a large explosion and fireball.

Bryansk is a logistical hub for Russian forces battling Ukraine in Donbas, while the Druzhba pipeline is one of the main routes for Russian oil to reach Europe.

The blasts came as British intelligence said Russia had ‘yet to achieve a significant breakthrough’ of defensive lines in Donbas despite Ukraine imposing a ‘significant cost’ on Mr Putin’s forces.

The Ministry of Defence said poor logistical and combat support were hampering Russia’s advances, as they did in the failed effort to take Kyiv.

Ukrainian defenders holed up in the Azovstal steel works in the southern city of Mariupol – which is still under siege – were also pinning down ‘many Russian units’ and preventing them from redeploying to the Donbas front, while also exhausting Kremlin troops and reducing their combat effectiveness, the MoD added.

Railway lines, oil facilities and military bases in Belgorod – another logistical hub in Russia but close to the Ukrainian border – have been targeted several times in recent weeks, including by low-flying helicopters.

Klimovo, a village with a nearby military base in the wider Bryansk region, was also struck.

On Sunday, the US pledged more military support to Ukraine to ensure ‘it can win this fight’ after Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin led the highest-profile American delegation to visit President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv since the war broke out.

Mr Blinken and Mr Austin said the US had approved a $165 million sale of ammunition for Ukraine’s war effort, along with more than $300 million in foreign military financing.

‘The strategy that we’ve put in place – massive support for Ukraine, massive pressure against Russia, solidarity with more than 30 countries engaged in these efforts – is having real results,’ Mr Blinken told reporters in Poland the day after meeting with Mr Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials.

He added: ‘When it comes to Russia’s war aims, Russia is failing. Ukraine is succeeding.

‘Russia has sought as its principal aim to totally subjugate Ukraine, to take away its sovereignty, to take away its independence. That has failed.’

Mr Zelenskyy in the meeting said he was ‘very thankful’ for the American aid and particularly praised President Joe Biden for his ‘personal support.’

‘The priorities are weapons and support from the United States of America and our partners, European leaders, in terms of our army’s strength and support in certain areas,’ the Ukrainian president said.

‘The second issue is the sanctions policy against the Russian Federation because of the full-scale invasion and all the terror they have committed in Ukraine.’

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