Western officials believe Russia is turning to heavier aerial and artillery assaults on urban areas following what some described as a surprisingly soft beginning to the war. At first, only around half of Russian units stationed on Ukraine’s border were believed to have been deployed. This figure is now understood to be closer to 80 percent. What is reported to be a 40-mile military convoy of tanks and military vehicles headed towards Kyiv – though apparently stalled in recent days – is a sign of a move towards heavier force. On top of this, the Kremlin has warned any attempt to establish a no fly zone over Ukraine – so far rejected by Western leaders – would be considered an act of participation in hostilities and would escalate the conflict, raising fears of a third World War. But the UK Defence Secretary insists we should not be “afraid” of Putin, who he believes to have “underestimated” the West.
Mr Wallace told the Sunday Telegraph: “The thing to say to Putin is don’t underestimate us, don’t test us.
“History is littered with authoritarian leaders underestimating the wider West and the United Kingdom.
“He clearly underestimated the international community.”
He added: “We must not be afraid of Putin.
“He is acting irrationally and inflicting horrors on Ukraine.
“But if we stick together and refuse to be intimidated, then I believe he will fail.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss issued a similar message in an exclusive interview for the Sunday Express.
In this, she hailed the fact the world is largely uniting against Putin, whom it is determined to see “fail”.
READ MORE: Zelensky’s call for no fly zone rejected
Volodymyr Zelensky accused Putin of engaging in “nuclear terrorism” earlier this week following reports of shelling on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
This is located in southeastern Ukraine.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Ukraine’s leader Putin’s “reckless actions… could now directly threaten the safety of all of Europe”.
It is understood the risk of nuclear action would be heightened were NATO to enforce a no fly zone over Ukraine.
SDP leader William Clouston told Express.co.uk the proposal, made by Mr Zelensky, was “understandable but foolish” because it would “increase the prospect of nuclear conflict” by directly involving the West in the conflict.
Former Regular Army Officer Colonel Simon Diggins also told the paper a no fly zone could soon cause events to spiral out of control, given it would “put us [that is, Britain and the rest of the West] directly against Russia”.