UK defense chief: Russia could become ‘cancerous’ growth in Ukraine

The U.K. defense secretary warned in an interview published Thursday that Russia could become a “cancerous growth” within Ukraine as Moscow seeks to expand its control within eastern Ukraine.

“Well I think it’s certainly the case that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, having failed in nearly all his objectives, may seek to consolidate what he’s got — sort of fortify and dig in, as he did in 2014,” U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News in an interview, referring to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

“And just be a sort of cancerous growth within the country of Ukraine and make it very hard for people to move from them out of those fortified positions,” he continued. “So I think it’s really about if we want this to not happen, we have to help Ukrainians effectively get the limpet off the rock and keep the momentum pushing them back.”

Wallace’s remarks come as Russia launches a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss this week pushed the West to provide heavy weapons, tanks and airplanes to Ukraine, saying that failure against Putin would have global security consequences.

Leaders of the U.K. and the U.S. have said they are expecting a prolonged conflict in Ukraine, and are committed to supporting Ukraine’s military for the duration.

President Biden is asking Congress to authorize more than $30 billion in additional security, economic and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, administration officials said Thursday.

U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack alleged on Wednesday during a United Nations meeting that officials had “credible evidence” that Russian forces were executing civilians.

It was the latest in a long list of war crimes Russia is allegedly committing in Ukraine, with the U.S. and allies expressing particularly fear over the human toll in Mariupol, which is largely under Russian control.

There is also increasingly fear that the war could spill into other countries as it drags on.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed in a statement on Wednesday that Russia was also seeking to destabilize the Molodovan breakaway region of Transnistria, saying in a statement “They show that if Moldova supports Ukraine, there will be certain steps.”

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