UK says Putin is losing in his 'might is right' strategy

China is 'trying its best' to mediate in the Russia-Ukraine war, Britain's defence chief says

A billboard depicting a soldier in St Petersburg, Russia. The war in Ukraine is forcing a rethink of Euro-Atlantic security, a UK minister has said.  EPA
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Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said Russian President Vladimir Putin is being proved wrong in his “might is right” strategy against Ukraine, and his disregard for the international rules-based order is backfiring.

Addressing delegates at the Shangri-La Dialogue international security gathering in Singapore, Mr Wallace said Moscow was pushing a “fabrication” about the system of laws, agreements and principles set up by victorious allies after the Second World War.

Russia's government has said the rules-based order is expansive and promotes the interests of western powers.

Pointing to the UN Charter, which Russia helped conceive, Mr Wallace said: “Of course, Russia doesn’t want ordinary countries to now benefit from those protections or the freedom to choose, because they might not choose Russia.

“Putin’s invasion of Ukraine – trampling sovereignty and brutalising innocent civilians – is a result of its utter disregard for rules and the belief that ‘might is right’.

“Well, they are wrong and that’s being proven by the international community’s determination to enforce those rules.”

He said Moscow’s invasion of its neighbour is “forcing a rethink of the Euro-Atlantic security architecture” and has fuelled a desire among countries to seek Nato membership which is “precisely what President Putin claimed he was acting to prevent.”

Tensions between China and the US, and the war in Ukraine, have been among the most-discussed topics at the annual defence summit.

In an interview on the sidelines of the meeting, Mr Wallace told This Week In Asia that Beijing is “trying its best” to mediate in the war in Ukraine.

The UK government minister’s comments came as Kyiv geared up to launch a counter-offensive against invading troops.

Hundreds of volunteer fighters have been flown to Britain to take part in fast-track military training run by the British Army.

Last month it emerged that Mr Wallace was pushing ahead with plans to slash the number of troops in the British army to historic lows. Despite the move, reports suggested the minister would shield the military from further reductions.

Mr Wallace said earlier this year that the army was "hollowed out and underfunded".

The Conservative government’s plan will see the number of fully trained soldiers fall from 76,000 to 72,5000, while the size of the Army Reserve will increase.

Less than a third of British soldiers think their equipment is good enough for fighting, a new survey by the Armed Forces Continuous Attitude revealed.

Among Royal Air Force personnel, 35 per cent said they were satisfied, while the figure stood at 20 per cent for the Royal Marines and 30 per cent for Royal Navy sailors.

Updated: June 03, 2023, 4:42 PM