Putin nuclear threats designed to ‘spook’ UK says MP as he warns situation is ‘escalating’

Ukraine: West urged to draw 'red lines' in spite of nuclear threat

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However, the chairman of Parliament’s Defence Committee emphasised the importance of the UK and other member states remaining united – and said next month’s NATO summit in Madrid must decide on the objectives they wanted to achieve. Meanwhile Mr Ellwood, the MP for Bournemouth East, also praised Foreign Secretary Liz Truss after she used a speech on Wednesday night to push for increased defence spending.

Speaking earlier this week, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Western nations against provoking a Third World War and said the threat of a nuclear conflict “should not be underestimated”.

Mr Ellwood, himself a former British Army office, told Express.co.uk: “There’s no doubt about it, that things are escalating, but we need to control the escalatory ladder.

“We need to make sure that we can lean into this in recognising the possible off-ramps to de-escalate but also have the self-confidence that we can step forward without events ratcheting out of control.

“The noise from the Kremlin is designed to spook us, and to make us think otherwise and effectively encourage us to do nothing, to be scared and for the first month or so, it succeeded.

“We were very timid in our initial response.”

Asked what the strategy should be more than two months since Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Mr Ellwood said: “It’s a really, really good question.

“Because my worry is that we’re piling military hardware into the country, increasing the quantity and the quality, but to what end?

“What are our objectives? That is the fundamental question that we need to ask.

“We have the NATO Summit coming up in June, and we need to confirm collectively what success looks like. Is it the removal of Russia completely from Ukraine, going back to pre 2014 levels? Or are we in the mindset to allow part of Donbass to remain in Russian hands?

“For me, absolutely it must be that Putin must lose and be seen to lose in Ukraine.”

It was therefore crucial for the West’s strategy, tactics and weapon systems to focus on achieving that objective, Mr Ellwood stressed.

However, he added: “To date, there is mission drift – we don’t even have a mission. It’s absolutely the right call to answer the call for more weapons to go in. But we need to confirm what the endgame is and we’re not there yet.

“And then the second big question, which Liz Truss addressed last night, and it was good to see her break ranks because it is something I’ve been calling for a long time, is our own defence posture.”

He explained: “We’ve reached a turning point in our history. We don’t know what the next decade is, how’s it going to play out? We do need to spend more money on defence because the integrative view is now out of date.”

Mr Ellwood did not rule out the possibility of NATO troops being deployed in Ukraine, saying: “These are all operational questions, but firstly we need to determine what we want to do and then we can ask ourselves, to what end can we provide support?

“I’m sure we have clandestine forces that are there but they do need anti-missile capabilities, anti-air batteries, to unsure that Russia can’t bomb from afar and then they also need the tanks and the necessary ground combat forces to be able to take on Russia and remove them from the Donbass region.

“So it needs to be better coordinated because at the moment individual countries are unilaterally providing excellent support. But there does need to be some form of coordination.”

With respect to the Russian President himself, he said: “We need to have a strategy that prevents Putin from being able to portray a success back to his own people, allow him to survive to do this all again in a couple of years time.

“May 9 is a big anniversary for the liberation of Russia and the defeat of the Nazis, and there’s a big parade for that. He may like to use that to show some form of success.

“Although I suspect the timetable won’t work for him because events in Donbass wouldn’t have concluded in that period.”

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