Ukraine

Russia on the back foot but 'shouldn't be underestimated', Defence Secretary says

Russian forces are on the back foot but the UK's Defence Secretary believes they "shouldn't be underestimated".

According to the latest Ministry of Defence (MOD) intelligence, the Russian withdrawal from the west bank of the Dnipro River will take days with limited crossing points.

In reaction to the recent withdrawal, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told Forces News "the Russians were clearly on the back foot all over Ukraine... they found it very hard to hold two fronts obviously, in the east and in the south".

Mr Wallace added: "Kherson obviously sits on the Dnipro River, a natural boundary and any tactical leader would work out if you are going to withdraw, withdraw behind a natural boundary and that protects you.

"I think we all worked out some time ago that the Russian army was going to have to leave there it couldn't hold it, it was taking too many casualties, and they clearly decided in advance that they would do that and try and leave in an orderly manner before the bridges blew up."

Russian forces have destroyed multiple bridges and likely laid mines to slow and delay advancing Ukrainian troops.

The MOD says the loss of Kherson's west bank is expected to stop Moscow from achieving a land bridge reaching Odesa but Mr Wallace warns that Russia should not be underestimated.

"We'll see, they've got a lot of people to leave still, they've got a lot of equipment to get out. We'll see what they're doing", the Defence Secretary added.

Watch: London-based defence and security think tank RUSI warned Western nations to maintain and step up their supply of air defences to Ukraine and "avoid complacency".

Mr Wallace added: "Obviously the Ukrainians won't stop, why would they, they are taking back their lands.

"I suppose it is an admission by the Russians that yet again, despite all their grand plans they are leaving one of their main objectives.

"When they invaded on the 24th of February, they had a number of objectives including Kyiv, including the big cities, including effectively taking control of the whole of Ukraine in a matter of weeks. 

"We are what seven, eight months in, that is the only objective they held successfully, Kherson, they've given that up, that's Russia on the back foot, but let's not underestimate Russia.

"Russia's history is that people should never underestimate their Army."

He went on: "Until this Army is pushed out of Ukraine until it is defeated in that country by the Ukrainians with the support of the international community, no-one will rest.

"The Ukrainians will not rest just because the Russians are pulling back from one city."