Matthew Gordon-Banks

Does Rishi Sunak receive poor advice on Ukraine?

In December 2022 UK Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin made a speech to the Royal United Services Institute, known as RUSI, in which he stated “Russia is critically short of ammunition. The cupboard is bare; morally, conceptually and physically”.

He went on to state that “Putin had intended a 30 day war and (at that point) had now been fighting for 300 days”.

Of course the reason Putin called the invasion a Special Military Operation or SMO was because he sought to send a limited number of troops into Ukraine to signal to the United States and to Kiev that he was serious about Ukraine not being a member of NATO, hard against Russia’s border. Putin sent far too few to realistically capture Kiev or much of Ukraine. By contrast, when Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 he did so with well over one million men.

For those interested, here is a link to the BBC iplayer recording of the Newsnight programme of the same month; notably created by sources outside the BBC. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001g69c/newsnight-is-the-pm-reviewing-our-role-in-ukraine

This is just one of a huge number of examples where a cautious technocratic British Prime Minister is not necessarily receiving advice which is based in reality. On artillery shells alone, what the Chief of the UK Defence Staff said to RUSI was the exact opposite of reality.

Scrolling on to today, Ukraine is using in three days what it is taking a 50% production boosted US military machine to make in a month and it is only a tenth of the daily Russian artillery usage. Ukraine has now committed most of its reserve forces to the counter-offensive it launched this summer. It is likely they will grind to a halt very soon.

One saving grace for Ukraine could be that Russia probably does not have the troops currently committed to the battlefield to take the port of Odessa and increase its occupation along the line of conflict. However it does have considerable personnel in reserve, currently uncommitted. Whilst doubting a Russian desire to extend their occupation much further, the loss of life on both sides has been horrendous and unnecessary. This conflict in a battlefield scenario most definitely could have been avoided; not least by Boris Johnson not interfering with the diplomatic process.

I have little doubt that the sensible technocrat Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, knows that all is not what they tell him since he entered Downing Street.

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