'I'm not afraid of Putin': Defence Sec says Ukraine no-fly zone would lead to all-out war

2 March 2022, 08:24 | Updated: 2 March 2022, 08:45

By Asher McShane

The Defence Secretary defiantly told LBC today that he isn't afraid of Vladimir Putin but he wants to avoid the Ukraine invasion escalating to a war across the whole of Europe.

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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was not prepared to send Britain to war and spark a conflict across Europe by pressing for a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Mr Wallace told LBC’s Nick Ferrari at Breakfast today: “I’m not afraid of Putin. I don’t want a war across the whole of Europe.

“Do they [LBC’s listeners] want a nuclear armed Russia to be at war with all of us across Europe and the Atlantic?”

He explained a NATO no-fly zone across Europe could quickly escalate to an all-out conflict.

“Ukraine isn’t in Nato. Nato is a self-defence organisation, if you attack one of us, you attack us all and we effectively all go to war under Article 5."

He said if there was a no-fly zone the Russians wouldn’t “play by the rules” and would likely shoot down NATO aircraft, triggering war across Europe and with Britain.

He said the Russians would strike back if NATO downed Russian aircraft, leading to “war right across Europe.”

The Defence Secretary told LBC he wasn't afraid of Putin
The Defence Secretary told LBC he wasn't afraid of Putin. Picture: LBC/Alamy

His comments come after Russia launched a missile attack on the TV tower in the city of Kyiv, killing five people and forcing a number of channels off air.

Videos shared on social media show plumes of smoke engulfing the Kyiv TV Tower, which stands at 385m high.

Five people were killed in the blast on Tuesday afternoon, according to Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Although it was damaged, the tower remained standing.

Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said the attack was located near to a Holocaust memorial complex - calling it "evil and barbaric".

He wrote on Twitter: "Kyiv TV tower, which has just been hit by a Russian missile, is situated on the territory of Babyn Yar. On September 29-30, 1941, Nazis killed over 33 thousand Jews here. 80 years later, Russian Nazis strike this same land to exterminate Ukrainians. Evil and barbaric."

The blasts were heard in the areas of Borshchahivka and Dorohozhychi, with two missile strikes reported.

Read more: Diplomats astonishing walk-out during speech by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov

Read more: 'World War III has already started': Ukrainian journalist blasts Boris for Nato inaction

In a post on Twitter, Mr Zelenskyy said: "Why repeat "Never Again" for 80 years, if when the bomb falls on Babyn Yar, the world remains silent? 5 more lives were lost. History repeats itself ..."

Kyiv TV Tower was built in 1973 for radio and television broadcasting and is the second tallest freestanding lattice tower in the world after the Tokyo Sky Tree.

Russian forces were accused of trying to disrupt its communication signal by advisor Anton Herashchenko.

The attack comes as Russian troops were pictured descending on the capital, with a 40 mile convoy of vehicles seen approaching the city in new satellite images.

Read more: Defiant Ukrainians ‘giving their lives for freedom’ as Russians warn of strikes on Kyiv

Read more: Live updates: Several Ukrainian cities attacked as huge Russian convoy approaches Kyiv

Earlier on Tuesday the Russian defence ministry warned Kyiv residents that it was preparing to hit targets in the Ukrainian capital.It warned of attacks on Kyiv technology centres, urging nearby residents to leave.

Russian officials said their forces were preparing to launch attacks on the "technological centres of the Ukrainian Security Service and the 72nd main PsyOps centre in Kyiv".

The statement read: "We urge Ukrainian citizens who are being used by nationalists to carry out provocations against Russia, as well as Kyiv residents residing near relay stations to leave their home."

Officials claimed the strikes are being carried out to "prevent information attacks against Russia".

The blast in Kyiv follows an earlier attack on Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv - with its main square "blown up" as the Russians continue their attacks on civilian targets.

The massive rocket strike took place in the early hours of Tuesday, targeting the region's administrative buildings, which are being used by Ukrainian defenders.

Six people were injured, including a child, according to local reports, after the strike missed its intended target by a matter of metres.

The attacks on the sixth day of Russia's invasion came as Mr Zelenskyy delivered an impassioned speech to the European Parliament, where he accused Vladimir Putin of committing a war crime and targeting children.

He told the emergency committee meeting: "Nobody is going to break us, we’re strong, we’re Ukrainians.

“We have a desire to see our children alive. I think it’s a fair one. Yesterday, 16 children were killed."

He also called on EU leaders to "prove" they are European, saying then "life will win over death and light will win over darkness".

Mr Zeklenskyy has made an official request to join the EU.

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