Britain’s defence secretary compares Putin with Hitler

Ben Wallace says Russian president is mirroring the actions of Nazi Germany

Britain's defence secretary has compared Vladimir Putin with Hitler, asserting that in his actions in Ukraine the Russian president is mirroring the actions of Nazi Germany. Speaking at the National Army Museum in London shortly after the Victory Day parade in Moscow, Ben Wallace said Mr Putin and his generals were ripping up Russia's past as well as its future.

“Through their invasion of Ukraine, Putin, his inner circle and generals are now mirroring the fascism and tyranny of 77 years ago, repeating the errors of last century’s totalitarian regimes. They are showing the same disregard for human life, national sovereignty, and the rules-based international system,” he said.

“Their unprovoked, illegal, senseless and self-defeating invasion of Ukraine; their attacks against innocent civilians and their homes. Their widespread atrocities, including the deliberate targeting of women and children; they all corrupt the memory of past sacrifices and Russia’s once-proud global reputation.”

Accusing the Russian army of war crimes, Mr Wallace said their generals had put their own self-preservation before the welfare of their soldiers and the lives of civilians. He said the incompetence of Russia’s military leadership during the war in Ukraine and the abandonment of rank and file soldiers ought to lead to generals being court-martialled.

“Throughout the Russian forces’ operation and across all domains their commanders’ failures to conduct appropriate operational planning has been nothing but a betrayal of their soldiers and airmen who have paid the price with their lives,” he said.

‘Rotten downwards’

“How could these generals commit their own troops knowing they were without the necessary medical support to care for them when injured in the pursuit of the orders they themselves issued? It is just another example of the moral decay in the Russian forces. Rotten downwards, from the chief of the general staff down, where ultimately the blame must lie.”

Mr Wallace said Britain would support countries such as Poland who wish to supply Russian-designed fighter aircraft to Ukraine and defend their right to do so. Although the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell suggested at the start of the war that central and eastern European states could supply such aircraft, none has done so because they fear Russia might retaliate directly.

Mr Wallace rejected as a “fairytale claim” Mr Putin’s accusation during the parade in Moscow that the West had been preparing to invade Russian territory. He said the Russian president was believing what he wanted to believe.

"Let me put on the record categorically: Nato, Britain, Eastern Europe is not planning to invade Russia and never has done," he said.