Ben Wallace arrives in Kyiv for talks with Ukraine counterpart as Ministry of Defence says more than 1,000 Russian troops have gone AWOL already this year with Vladimir Putin struggling to enforce discipline
- Defence Secretary meets with Oleksii Reznikov in an unannounced visit to Kyiv
Ben Wallace arrived in Kyiv for talks with his Ukrainian counterpart this morning as they discussed Britain’s supply of long-range missiles to the country.
The Defence Secretary met Oleksii Reznikov in an unannounced visit to the Ukrainian capital.
According to local media, the pair discussed Ukraine’s ongoing bid to join Nato, as well as Western supplies of arms to Kyiv.
It came as the Ministry of Defence revealed more than 1,000 Russian troops have already gone AWOL this year.
They added Russian president Vladimir Putin’s struggles to enforce discipline among his ranks have likely worsened since he ordered the forced mobilisation of reservists.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Ukraine’s defence minister Oleksii Reznikov shake hands in Kyiv today
Smoke rises from a building in Bakhmut, the site of Ukraine’s heaviest battles with Russian troops in the eastern Donetsk region
Vladimir Putin’s struggles to enforce discipline among his ranks have likely worsened since he ordered the forced mobilisation of reservists, the Ministry of Defence said
In their latest intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence revealed more than 1,000 Russian troops have already gone AWOL this year
Putin called up 300,000 reservists last autumn after his hopes of a swift invasion of Ukraine crumbled. He has also allowed Russian prisoners to be conscripted into the paramilitary Wagner Group in order to fight in Ukraine.
In its latest intelligence update, the MoD wrote: ‘Russia’s military has struggled to enforce discipline in its ranks throughout its operations in Ukraine, but its issues have highly likely worsened following the forced mobilisation of reservists since October 2022.
‘Court data suggests that most of those found guilty of going AWOL are now punished with suspended sentences, meaning they can be redeployed to the “special military operation”.
‘Russia’s efforts to improve discipline have focused on making examples of defaulters, and promoting patriotic zeal, rather than addressing the root causes of soldiers’ disillusionment.’
Mr Wallace’s visit to Kyiv today comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak talked up the Defence Secretary in his effort to become Nato’s next secretary general.
The PM hailed Mr Wallace – who has said being Nato chief is ‘a job I’d like’ – as ‘widely respected’ among international allies for his actions over Ukraine.
Nato’s current secretary general Jens Stoltenberg is due to stand down in October after nine years in charge of the military alliance.
As well as Mr Wallace, Dutch PM Mark Rutte and Estonian PM Kaja Kallas are also among those to have been linked to the role.
Yesterday, Mr Sunak stressed Ukraine will receive Western support for ‘years to come’ as he warned Mr Putin that his strategy of waiting it out is ‘not going to work’.
The PM said it was one of Putin’s ‘great miscalculations’ to assume his invasion of Ukraine would fragment allies.
Mr Wallace last week revealed Ukrainian forces have used UK-supplied Storm Shadow cruise missiles – the latest British kit sent to Kyiv – against Russian targets.