Russia 'failed its invasion objectives' on day one as Ukraine mounts fierce fightback

25 February 2022, 08:24 | Updated: 25 February 2022, 09:00

Ben Wallace said Russia had failed on invasion day one and had taken hundreds of casualties
Ben Wallace said Russia had failed on invasion day one and had taken hundreds of casualties. Picture: Getty/LBC/Alamy

By Will Taylor

Russia "failed to achieve its objectives" on day one of its invasion of Ukraine and lost 450 soldiers, Britain's defence secretary has told LBC.

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Ben Wallace said Vladimir Putin was given a "bloody nose" on Thursday after his forces, including a crack special forces outfit, failed in their initial invasion missions.

But the threat remains with forces in the north of the country thought to be advancing on the Ukrainian capital Kiev, with defenders mounting what the Ministry of Defence called a "fierce resistance".

"He didn't get his way – he had a bloody nose in two ways," Mr Wallace told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

"He didn’t get his way militarily, despite all the boasting and the big forces, and he didn't get his way in his political beliefs, or his legacy beliefs, that he was really uniting the great peoples of Ukraine with his peoples and that they would hail him as some sort of liberator.

"I think that's the very opposite… he will get a legacy from this, it won't be one he wants, it will be the one that we'll decide in the international community."

A Ministry of Defence [MoD] assessment published early on Friday morning said while Moscow's forces are thought to have captured the Chernobyl area, their advance on a city north-east of Ukraine's capital Kiev had been halted.

An update tweeted by the MoD said: "It is unlikely that Russia has achieved its planned Day 1 military objectives.

"Ukrainian forces have presented fierce resistance across all axes of Russia’s advance."

Mr Wallace said: "The latest of our assessment is that Russia has failed to take any of its day one objectives, they have lost about 450 members of the Russian Armed Forces, they've lost a number of tanks and armoured personnel [carriers], they've lost at least three fighter jets and helicopters.

"They have failed to break out of the Donbas [where the rebel regions in Donetsk and Luhansk are] which, remember, was President Putin’s so called pretext of going there.

Footage purports to show Russian helicopters heading inwards towards Kiev as they fly near Gostomel Airport

"They haven't been welcomed as liberators which I think President Putin expected them to be by the Ukrainian population.

"The Ukrainians have fought and fought bravely and they continue to do so and amazingly as we all saw on the television screens there have been protests in Russia in 56 cities so there are some brave Russians out there who realise that they don’t want this in their name either."

He stressed there is no prospect of British or Nato air power attacking Russia over Ukraine, despite requests for air cover.

Day two appears to have got under way, with Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba saying Kiev was under "horrific" missile attack and comparing it to the Second World War.

The first day brought at least 130 civilian and soldiers dead and hundreds of injuries in Ukraine, after Vladimir Putin deployed his forces on what he called a special military operation.

Read more: Ukraine: Hundreds killed and Chernobyl site captured as Russian invasion enters second day

Read more: Putin is a 'bloodstained aggressor' says PM as he unveils new sanctions on Russia

He has insisted he wants to "demilitarise and de-nazify" Ukraine, a democratic country of more than 40 million people.

While he has complained that Nato should never expand to include Ukraine, and made demands that the alliance dismantle military infrastructure in central and Eastern Europe, his critics say he is trying to instead dominate a sovereign state Russia used to control.

Meanwhile, President Volodymr Zelenskyy said he would not leave the capital, after he mobilised reservists and declared martial law.

Read more: First photos from the Ukraine frontline: Harrowing images of Russia's invasion

However, Ukraine said it did suffer the loss of the Chernobyl area on Thursday, north of Kiev.

Workers there have reportedly been captured by the Russian military after Ukraine warned that artillery could damage the facility, which has been entombed in a steel and concrete sarcophagus after the devastating nuclear accident in 1986.

Nato member state leaders are due to meet on Friday and the UN Security Council will vote on a resolution that would condemn the invasion "in the strongest terms" – though with Russia holding veto power on the council it is doomed to fail.

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The MoD's update also said: ":Russian forces have highly likely captured the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Workers have reportedly been detained by Russian troops.

"The Ukrainian Armed Forces have reportedly halted Russia's advance towards Chernihiv [north-east of Kiev]. Fighting probably continues on the outskirts of the city."

Western leaders announced fresh sanctions in response to the invasion as landmarks lit up in Ukraine colours.

Boris Johnson branded Putin a "dictator" and a "bloodstained aggressor" who believes in "imperial conquest", saying he was "always determined" to attack Ukraine.

The UK will sanction another five oligarchs, including Putin's former son-in-law, and more than 100 businesses and individuals.

The measures were aimed at "all the major manufacturers that support Putin's war machine", Mr Johnson said, and include a ban Aeroflot from landing planes in the UK and the freezing the assets of all major Russian banks.

US president Joe Biden also unveiled sanctions but stopped short of cutting Russia off from SWIFT, the international banking system, with some European countries reluctant to do so.

"Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war, and now he and his country will bear the consequences," Mr Biden said.

The EU also announced measures early on Friday.

Despite Putin's attempts at justifying an invasion, some Russians took to the streets to protest the war.

More than 1,700 arrests were said to have been made across the country, mostly in Moscow.