Putin could 'go ugly and use WMDs' in Ukraine, senior Conservative MP warns
Tobias Ellwood suggested the Russian president could use chemical or biological weapons if his campaign faltered.
Russian president Vladimir Putin could “go ugly and use WMDs” in the war against Ukraine, a senior Conservative MP has warned.
Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the Commons Defence Committee, suggested Putin could resort to using chemical or biological weapons if his campaign faltered.
He said Nato needed to provide Ukraine with the ability for longer-term security so Russia did not simply regroup and return.
It came as Downing Street confirmed it would provide Kyiv with air defence missiles and attack drones following a meeting between prime minister Rishi Sunak and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the UK.
Read more: Zelensky needs Sunak to push Ukraine’s allies to go further and faster over weapons and jets
Ellwood told the Radio Times on Monday: “If Russia is seen to start to lose and have to seed terrain Putin will probably go ugly.
“He’ll probably use non-conventional weapon systems as we’ve seen in Syria, for example, chemical, biological and so forth.”
He warned against “Ukraine fatigue” and said Putin was hoping the West would get tired and call for “peace talks”, which would be a mistake and “allow the bully to survive”.
Read more: Ukraine-Russia war – live: Kyiv forces ‘reclaim significant ground around Bakhmut’
Ellwood added: "We need to provide not only the ability for Ukraine to flush Russia out, but also the longer term security so that Russia doesn't simply regroup, rearm and then attack again."
The Tory MP had earlier asked defence secretary Ben Wallace in the Commons if he was concerned Putin would use non-conventional weapons.
Wallace replied: “We always have to be on our guard about the behaviours of the Russian military and indeed President Putin."
Rishi Sunak and Volodymyr Zelenskyy meeting
No 10 said Britain would send hundreds of air defence missiles and further unmanned aerial systems to Ukraine as the prime minister met the president at Chequers on Monday.
It followed meetings held by Zelenskyy in Paris, Berlin and Rome and came three months after the Ukrainian leader’s first trip to London since the start of Russia’s invasion.
Sunak stressed that the provision of warplanes was “not a straightforward thing” but said the UK was committed to training Ukrainian pilots using Nato-standard aircraft.
Downing Street said an elementary flying phase for cohorts of Ukrainian pilots would begin this summer, going hand in hand with British efforts to work with other countries on providing F-16 jets.
Latest Ukraine battlefield updates
Ukraine claimed on Tuesday it had shot down six Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missiles in a single night for the first time.
If confirmed, it would be a demonstration of the effectiveness of newly deployed Western air defences.
The past week has seen Ukrainian forces make their biggest gains on the battlefield since last November, recapturing several square km of territory on the northern and southern outskirts of the battlefield city of Bakhmut.
Moscow has acknowledged that some of its troops have retreated but denies that its battle lines are falling apart.
A Ukrainian counteroffensive will bring the next major phase of the war after a huge Russian winter offensive that failed to capture significant new territory.