UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace's peevish remarks about Ukrainians needing to show 'gratitude' are music to Vladimir Putin's ears – Scotsman comment
Somewhere in the bowels of the Kremlin, the official charged with compiling the latest report entitled “The West’s support for Ukraine” will be gleefully adding the words of the UK Defence Secretary. Speaking at the Nato summit yesterday, Ben Wallace revealed that on being presented with a list of military requests from Kyiv last year, he had responded by saying “we’re not Amazon”.
Rather peevishly, he also said: “There is a slight word of caution which is, whether we like it or not, people want to see gratitude. My counsel to the Ukrainians is sometimes, look, you are persuading countries to give up their own stocks. And yes, the war is a noble war and yes, we see it as you doing a war not just for yourselves but also our freedoms. But sometimes you have got to persuade lawmakers on the Hill in America. You have got to persuade doubting politicians in other countries that it is worth it, it’s worthwhile and they are getting something for it.”
While Rishi Sunak later insisted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had made clear how “incredibly grateful” he was for UK support, the Prime Minister’s attempt to undo the damage came across like PR spin, while Wallace’s remarks sounded like he was getting annoyed at the drain on UK resources.
It should be obvious that a key Russian strategy is to dig in, force Ukraine to attack well-defended positions, and wait for the West’s support to crumble. The US election next year is a key date, as Putin will hope Donald Trump’s re-election will bring cuts to US military aid.
Perhaps Wallace was trying to signal to voters at home that he’s looking after their money, not saying yes to every Ukrainian request. But equally he should realise Ukrainian politicians have a domestic audience and need to demonstrate they are doing their utmost on the diplomatic front.
However, not all politics is domestic. In contributing to the impression that the West is becoming war-weary, Wallace has encouraged Putin’s regime to believe victory is possible if only they can hang on for long enough. Careless talk costs lives.
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