Image ID 2HT4TA1 A disabled Russian Armored Personel Carrier (APC) on the northern outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine 260222 CREDIT COLLIN MAYFIELD, SIPA USA, ALAMY STOCK PHOTO.jpg
A disabled Russian armoured personnel carrier (APC) on the northern outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine (Picture: Collin Mayfield/SIPA USA/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO).
Ukraine

Russia's attack is strung out and behind schedule, Defence Secretary says

Putin's nuclear warning is a "battle of rhetoric" and an "attempt to distract away from his troubles in Ukraine", Defence Secretary said.

Image ID 2HT4TA1 A disabled Russian Armored Personel Carrier (APC) on the northern outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine 260222 CREDIT COLLIN MAYFIELD, SIPA USA, ALAMY STOCK PHOTO.jpg
A disabled Russian armoured personnel carrier (APC) on the northern outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine (Picture: Collin Mayfield/SIPA USA/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO).

Russian force's invasion of Ukraine is "behind schedule" and "strung out", the Defence Secretary has said.

Ben Wallace told Times Radio that President Putin "convinced himself that all these people would somehow welcome them with Russian flags and thank them for being great liberators".

But instead, the Ukrainian resistance had made these plans "go awry".

His comments come after the Ministry of Defence (MOD) shared an intelligence update of the latest situation on the ground in Ukraine.

In a tweet, the MOD said: "The bulk of Putin's ground forces remain more than 30km to the north of Kyiv, their advance having been slowed by Ukrainian forces defending Hostomel airfield, a key Russian objective for day one of the conflict.

"Heavy fighting continues around Chernihiv and Kharkiv; however both cities remain under Ukrainian control.

"Logistical failures and staunch Ukrainian resistance continue to frustrate the Russian advance.

"Despite continued attempts to suppress details of the conflict from the Russian population, the Russian Armed Forces has for the first time been forced to acknowledge suffering casualties," the tweet added.

The Defence Secretary believes Vladimir Putin's nuclear warning is part of a "battle of rhetoric".

Ben Wallace told BBC Breakfast that he understood the concerns about the warning made by the Russian leader, and revealed his own 12-year-old son called him worried about the step.

He said: "We don't see or recognise in the sort of phrase or the status he described as anything that is a change to what they have currently as their nuclear posture.

"We will not do anything to escalate in that area, we will not do anything to feed any miscalculation, we take it very, very seriously.

"But at the moment this is a battle of rhetoric that President Putin is deploying, and we just have to make sure we manage it properly."

Mr Wallace added: "This is predominantly about Putin putting it on the table just to remind people, remind the world, that he has a deterrent."

Watch: UK and NATO troops 'should not, must not, play an active role in Ukraine'.

The Defence Secretary has defended the funding given to the British Armed Forces.

Mr Wallace said there was confusion between a reduction in the number of soldiers and cuts in defence overall.

Talking to Times Radio, he said: "We've got the biggest defence spending increase since the Cold War," and added that the priorities of the Armed Forces reflected the threats present.

Additional UK forces have started to arrive in eastern Europe, bolstering NATO's flank as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Wallace was also asked about comments from Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who told LBC on Sunday, that she supported anyone who wanted to travel to Ukraine to help fight Russian forces.

He said that for those without military experience, there were "better ways" to help.

Mr Wallace said his cabinet colleague was right that it was a "just cause", but he said: "If you're keen to help and you're a United Kingdom citizen, come and join our Armed Forces."

He continued: "Look, there are people who will go... I think what I would say is unless you are properly trained unless you are a –  you know – experienced member of the Armed Forces, I think there are better ways for you to contribute to the security of Ukraine."