Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said 25,000 Russians have been killed in Ukraine since the start of Vladimir Putin’s invasion as he insisted Russia’s war was “failing”.
Speaking at the Nato summit in Madrid, Mr Wallace told LBC: “I would still say the Ukrainians are winning. They are extracting huge amounts of cost from the Russian armed forces.
“Twenty five thousand Russians, we think, have been killed in that fight in the space of 112, 115 days. Russia has failed on all its major objectives.
“It is now reduced to a grinding advance - a few hundred metres every few days at massive cost in one small part of eastern Ukraine along two or three axes. That is not a victory in anyone’s book.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be resisting calls from Mr Wallace and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to ramp up defence spending in response to the growing threat from Russia.
On Tuesday, he insisted that the UK was well ahead of the Nato target of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence and played down criticism that the Government will miss a 2019 manifesto pledge to increase defence spending by 0.5 per cent more than inflation.
But Mr Wallace told Times Radio: “On the two per cent, we are still absolutely on target to get to the end of this spending review at two per cent or above two per cent of GDP of spend on defence.
“So I’m happy with where we are for now, I’m happy up until the middle of 2024.
“The question I think is important is what happens in the middle of the decade.
“That was a timeline that we were prepared to take certain vulnerability risks given that Russia was not as dangerous.
“Now that has changed there needs to be a reality check with what Russia has done in Ukraine.”
Asked how much extra money he would like on Sky News, Mr Wallace replied: “How much is a piece of string? All departmental heads will say they want more money.”
But he went on: “If Britain wants to maintain its leadership role beyiond 2024 we are going to have to see greater investment. We spent 40 years taking a peace dividend at the end of the Cold War, sometimes it’s important to invest.
“Russia is very, very dangerous now on the world stage, the world is less secure than it was two or three years ago and is not looking like changing much for the next decade. I think that’s the moment in the middle of the decade to say we should commit to increased funding.”
Mr Wallace conceded that with inflation at a 40 year high of 9.1 per cent, the manifesto pledge to grow defence spending by 0.5 per cent above that rate would not be met this year.
He said: “I think a No10 spokesman said yesterday that was unlikely given the significant changes to inflation.
“I have been in politics long enough to see every government not fulfill its manifesto 100 per cent. We promised to try and do these things.
“If the economic situation has changed or things are harder to deliver than people thought...it doesn’t mean to say it’s not an aspiration. If inflation hadn’t lifted off this year we would be on track to meet our 0.5 per cent.”
Mr Johnson has insisted the Government will meet its manifesto pledge when defence spending is averaged out over the course of the Parliament up to 2024.