Shadow defence secretary says some Labour MPs

If the West provides the weapons, Ukraine can destroy Putin

Russia was going to take Kyiv in three days Putin once said. Seven months on Kyiv remains free and Putin is having to conscript at least 300 thousand additional troops for his invasion: undoubtably a large number.

But Ukraine should not be afraid. Let me explain why.

The reasons for the mobilisation are simple. Putin is losing the war right now and badly.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the newly liberated Kharkiv region, where the Ukrainian Armed Forces have just forced a seismic defeat on Russia through a combination of tactical surprise and Russia’s complacent decision to divert its forces to the Kherson region. Now lacking many of the main transportation hubs this has left the remaining Russian forces in the east critically vulnerable.

Perhaps understandingly given the scale of defeat, Russia’s Defence Minister Shoigu is now attempting to minimise Russia’s losses with a series of ridiculous claims. Most notably that only 6,000 Russian personnel have died, raising the obvious question of why Russia needs 300,000 more personnel to replace 6,000?

But the evidence of Russian concern is in fact even larger.

New decrees have been passed to allow Putin to mobilise an unlimited number of recruits, whilst the Duma has legislated to make opposing conscription illegal and increased the penalty for avoiding the draft from three years to ten years imprisonment. Far from looking out for the interests of the Russian people, it’s clear that Putin winning the war at any cost is his only consideration.

So how long will Putin need to deliver his newly mobilised Russians to the front? Considering all their requirements it will take about two months. This time will be used to provide basic training for the fighters and provision them with mostly old Soviet weapons. But more importantly it will give Ukraine two more months to prepare.

However, we need more to win.

The victory near Kharkiv and retreat of the Russian army proved that with the right support – from HIMARS to humanitarian supplies – our army can win quickly and decisively. But now we have the opportunity to finish off Russia. Given their collapse on the Kharkiv front only one such more victory should be enough for their morale to collapse altogether.

But for this to happen our international friends must ensure we get all the weapons necessary to win. Whilst we are hugely grateful for support we have received so far, I suspect the war would have finished in April if we had been granted everything needed.

Defeated on the battlefield, Putin’s last hope now relies on General Moroz: also known in Russia as winter. For winter will be difficult. In particular, defending our energy infrastructure against Putin’s bombs must be a priority. And for the rest of Europe also struggling through this winter, with rising gas and oil bills, my message is this: the best way to survive the cold is to not let war happen on European territory ever again.

Because the lesson of recent history is that unless Putin is defeated for good, a dialogue to end the war will never be possible. He will only talk when the weapons of gas and oil cannot be used to blackmail the civilised world.

What final weapons systems do we need to finish the job then?

Despite it taking six months and initial claims that it would be ‘impossible’, the transfer of HIMARS has clearly transformed Ukraine’s prospects on the land. Now we need fighters, tankers, and long-range missiles of the type ATACMS to provide a similar transformation to our prospects in the air.

I understand Western fears that this could provoke Putin further, but in truth it would have the opposite effect. It will only be when he and his increasingly demotivated men realise that Russia can’t win that the war can end. He may continue to blackmail the world by hunger or through explosions such as at the Zaporizhia nuclear plant, but he can only ever be stopped by force.

In the end, Ukraine has never called NATO troops to fight. We only ask for weapons for our Armed Forces. And with your help, we will fight for the whole democratic world. In Spring, the world didn’t believe in us. They do now. The victory could be ours tomorrow, but how many more months must we wait?


Oleksii is Member of Parliament for Odesa, Ukraine