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.

·3-min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends meetings with foreign leaders on Victory Day, which marks the 78th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia May 9, 2023. Sputnik/Vladimir Smirnov/Pool via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A senior Tory MP has warned Russian president Vladimir Putin could use WMDs. (Reuters)

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

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 07:  Tobias Ellwood MP leaves 10 Downing Street as Ministers gather for the weekly Cabinet meeting on March 7, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Tory MP Tobias Ellwood said Nato needed to provide Ukraine with the ability for longer-term security. (Getty)

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."

AYLESBURY, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Britain's Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak (R), and Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, laugh after a press conference in the garden at Chequers on May 15, 2023 in Aylesbury, England. In recent days, Mr Zelensky has travelled to meet Western leaders seeking support for Ukraine in the war against Russia. The UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak, will reiterate the importance of providing a full package of support and will confirm the supply of air defence missiles and drones to help Ukraine's defence later today. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Prime minister Rishi Sunak (R) and Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Chequers. (Getty)

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.

Kyiv Mayor Vitalii Klitschko shows a Kh-47 Kinzhal Russian hypersonic missile warhead, shot down by a Ukrainian Air Defence unit amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, at a compound of the Scientific Research Institute in Kyiv,  Ukraine May 12, 2023. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
Kyiv Mayor Vitalii Klitschko shows a shot down Kh-47 Kinzhal Russian hypersonic missile warhead. (Reuters)

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.