Putin has lost control of the war, says head of UK Armed Forces

Ukrainian Armed Forces attack on Sevastopol
Ukrainian Armed Forces attacked the Crimean city of Sevastopol with a British-designed Storm Shadow missile

Putin has lost control of the war, the head of the British Armed Forces has said.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin visited Kyiv with Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, to reaffirm the UK’s commitment to the war-torn nation.

Sir Tony said they had discussed new military aid with President Volodymyr Zelensky during the visit on Wednesday.

“The recent strikes on the Black Sea Fleet are another example of how Ukraine retains the initiative. Putin has lost control of the war he started, and Russia is diminished as a consequence,” he said.

Last week, a British-designed Storm Shadow missile blew a hole through the roof of Russia’s naval headquarters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol.

The audacious attack on Russia’s Black Sea fleet nerve centre was described by Ukraine’s Air Force spokesman as a “blow to Putin’s dictatorship”.

Ukraine has repeatedly asked for more Western arms, including longer-range weapons, to regain occupied territory as the front lines have stayed largely frozen.

Vladimir Putin
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said Ukraine retained the initiative against Vladimir Putin - Vladimir Astapkovich/Sputnik Kremlin

Boris Johnson last week urged Rishi Sunak to send more Storm Shadow missiles.

Mr Shapps said after the meeting: “I’ve been back to Kyiv this week to ask President Zelensky what he needs to win.”

Sebastien Lecornum the French defence minister, was also expected to hold talks with Mr Zelensky and his new defence minister Rustem Umerov.

“We know that this war is going to last. We must ensure that tomorrow we continue to be reliable in our aid to Ukraine,” Mr Lecornu said, after laying flowers at a memorial to Ukraine’s fallen soldiers.

France has supplied Ukraine with Scalp missiles, its version of Storm Shadows.

The UK Ministry of Defence said the Kyiv visit provided an opportunity to hold further discussions on military support, after meetings in Ramstein, Germany of 50 nations at last week’s Ukraine defence contact group.

Sir Tony Radakin and Grant Shapps in Kyiv
Sir Tony Radakin and Grant Shapps in Kyiv - Gwar Worin

Mr Shapps added: “It was an honour to meet President Zelensky in Kyiv to assure him that the UK will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine, as we have done since Putin illegally invaded Crimea nearly 10 years ago.”

He reiterated how the UK had trained tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers, delivered hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition, and provided millions of pounds of economic and humanitarian aid “to help Ukraine’s citizens reclaim and rebuild what has been taken from them by Putin’s barbaric invasion”.

“Having heard the experiences of so many Ukrainians affected by this war, including a family I hosted in my home for a year, I am committed to maintaining the UK’s military support, particularly as the freezing winter weather approaches,” he said.

Satellite photo
A satellite picture shows smoke billowing from the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea - Planet Labs PBC/via AP

Mr Shapps previously visited Ukraine in August in his former role as energy secretary.

On that occasion, he discussed support for Ukraine’s recovery from the war, and visited a children’s nursery that had been attended by one of the Ukrainian children he hosted in his home.

Like Mr Shapps, Mr Umerov is a recent appointee to his role.

Oleksii Reznikov, the former defence minister, was sacked amid an anti-corruption drive by Mr Zelensky, after concerns about procurement processes with Ukrainian defence.

On Twitter, Mr Zelensky said: “I received UK Defence Secretary (Grant Shapps) in Kyiv.

“I am profoundly grateful to the UK for all the financial, humanitarian and military support, including crucial long-range capabilities.

“We discussed further defence co-operation and steps to strengthen Ukraine’s air defence.”

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