Defence Secretary Ben Wallace cancels family half term break amid Ukraine crisis

13 February 2022, 12:27 | Updated: 20 October 2022, 13:54

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he had cancelled a family trip
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he had cancelled a family trip. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has cancelled a family trip this weekend because of the worsening situation in Ukraine.

Mr Wallce tweeted: "having returned from Moscow early on Saturday morning and because we are concerned about the worsening situation in Ukraine i have cancelled a planned long weekend abroad with my family and will be returning."

A senior defence source added: "As events worsen the Secretary of State has cut short a planned long weekend with his children for half term."

Read more: 'Don't fear Putin': Former Ukraine PM's message to West as Russia invasion 'highly likely'

Read more: 'My priority is my children': Brit fleeing Ukraine shares pain at leaving home of 30 years Ukraine meanwhile has criticised his comparison of diplomatic efforts aimed at preventing an invasion by Russia to appeasement as unhelpful, saying now is the wrong time to "offend our partners".

Mr Wallace was on Sunday heading back from a family holiday in Europe, which he only began a day earlier, because of the "worsening situation in Ukraine", having warned an attack is "highly likely".

Fallon: Putin could carry out expansion if allowed invade Ukraine

His remarks that there is a "whiff of Munich in the air", in a reference to the agreement that allowed German annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938 but failed to prevent the Second World War, was not welcomed by Ukraine.

Ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko warned that the panic being caused by the West sounding the alarm could be playing into Russia President Vladimir Putin's hands.

"It's not the best time for us to offend our partners in the world, reminding them of this act which actually not bought peace but the opposite, it bought war," he said.

"There's panic everywhere not just in people's minds but in financial markets as well," he added, warning it is "hurting the Ukrainian economy on sort of the same level as people leaving the embassy".

Mr Wallace said in an interview with The Sunday Times that Moscow could "launch an offensive at any time", with an estimated 130,000 Russian troops and heavy firepower amassed along Ukraine's border.

"It may be that he (Putin) just switches off his tanks and we all go home but there is a whiff of Munich in the air from some in the West," he added.

A source close to Mr Wallace explained that his frustrations centred on if Mr Putin strikes "come what may, then all the diplomacy would have been a straw man", rather than being aimed at any European allies.

The Defence Secretary said he was returning from a planned long weekend abroad in Europe with his wife and children "because we are concerned about the worsening situation in Ukraine".

Mr Wallace arrived back in the UK from Moscow in the early hours of Saturday before heading abroad with his family, but it was understood he had already accepted he would be leaving the holiday alone early rather than having cancelled it on arrival in the light of new developments with Russia.

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