Britain says Russia plans to take whole of Ukraine, has lost 450 personnel

A residential building allegedly damaged by military shelling in a suburb in Kyiv, on Feb 25, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Russia intends to take the whole of Ukraine but the Russian army failed to deliver its main objectives on the first day of President Vladimir Putin's invasion, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Friday (Feb 25).

Russia launched its invasion by land, air and sea on Thursday following a declaration of war by Putin, in the biggest attack on a European state since World War II.

Missiles pounded the Ukrainian capital on Friday as Russian forces pressed their advance and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with the international community to do more, saying sanctions announced so far were not enough.

"It's definitely our view that the Russians intend to invade the whole of Ukraine," Mr Wallace told Sky.

Mr Putin says Russia is carrying out "a special military operation" to stop the Ukrainian government from committing genocide against its own people - an accusation the West calls baseless. He also says Ukraine is an illegitimate state whose lands historically belong to Russia.

Mr Wallace cast Mr Putin, Russia's paramount leader since 1999, as illogical.

"I certainly think he has gone full tonto," Mr Wallace said. "No one else in their right mind would do what we are seeing on our telly screens today."

Russia says Western leaders are gripped by Russophobia and that the United States and its allies have been plotting to undermine Russia for decades.

Blood and money

Mr Wallace said the Russian army had failed to deliver any of its key objectives, directly contradicting the Russian Defence Ministry, which said it had achieved all of its main aims on the first day of the military operation.

"Contrary to great Russian claims, and indeed President Putin's sort of vision that somehow the Ukrainians would be liberated and would be flocking to his cause, he's got that completely wrong, and the Russian army has failed to deliver, on day one, its main objective," Mr Wallace said.

Russia, Mr Wallace said, had lost more than 450 personnel so far.

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After Britain unveiled its toughest sanctions yet on Russia, Mr Wallace said London was pushing reluctant allies to cut off Russia from the Swift global interbank payments system.

"We would like to go further, we'd like to do the Swift system," he said. "If not every country wants them to be thrown out of the Swift system, it becomes difficult."

British Airways owner IAG is now avoiding Russian airspace for overflights and cancelled its flight to Moscow on Friday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson banned Russia's flagship airline Aeroflot from Britain, IAG chief executive Luis Gallego said.

Britain has prohibited all scheduled Russian airlines from entering British airspace.

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