Former MP Brooks Newmark has been working in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion to try and help refugees escape. He has recalled to Express.co.uk the harrowing reality of how the country is coping despite intense bombardment and heartbreaking loss. As Ukrainians unite across the country in the face of Russian aggression, Mr Newmark says invading Russian troops are increasingly “not motivated to fight” as their advances are quashed by defending forces. Of the Ukrainian people, Mr Newmark said: “There is an amazing fighting spirit wherever you go. I think the Prime Minister’s speech in Kyiv’s Parliament really got the tone right.
“It is, I suspect, like how the British felt during World War 2 when we were attacked — incredible fighting spirit.
“Every single Ukrainian is motivated to fight back. That is the absolute opposite of the Russians who are not motivated to fight.
“Many of them are recruits who didn’t even know they were going into Ukraine to fight.
“There’s a lot of anger but there’s a lot of positive spirit amongst Ukrainians — they can fight back and they can win, but it’s really important that we in the West give them whatever support they need.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently pledged a further £300million of military aid for Ukraine while making a speech in Kyiv’s Parliament on top of existing financial commitments.
Mr Newmark added that Prime Minister Johnson is the “most popular” figure in Ukraine after their own leader Volodymyr Zelensky.
However, the former Conservative MP also called on the UK to do even more to support Ukrainian troops.
He added: “Putin already thinks he is at war with us. We should stop this pretence that we are going to annoy Putin.
“Putin couldn’t be more annoyed, he already thinks we are involved in the war and he already thinks he is in a battle with NATO.
“We were prepared to go into Iraq and Afghanistan, Ukraine is a European country and on our border.
“We can’t just sit by and see what happened in Bucha, see the devastation, and stand by while Putin ups the stakes with these war crimes,
“Putin committed war crime after war crime in Syria, we saw the devastation in east Aleppo. He thinks he can march into Ukraine and kill with impunity.
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“My approach is much more hawkish on this than most. My view is that if he continues down the track that he is, we may have to stand up and be counted. We may have to get involved in this war in a more direct way.
“If we can’t do that, we must give Ukraine every piece of military assistance possible.”
Reports this week continue to paint a dire picture for Putin and his military objectives.
A senior Ukrainian official claimed that Chief of the Russian general staff, Valery Gerasimov, has been suspended amid the Kremlin’s faltering invasion.
Oleksiy Arestovych, a military adviser to Ukraine’s president, said “preliminary information” suggested Gen Gerasimov had been removed from his post.
Russia failed to take the capital Kyiv, an objective many feared would be accomplished within a matter of days.
They have now regrouped in an attempt to focus efforts on eastern Ukraine.
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But Russia’s advance there has been slow too, and Western officials say it has not managed to take any cities.
Today, reports indicate that Russian forces are undertaking high risk strategies to try and make progress.
Footage released by Ukrainian forces appeared to show several burnt out military vehicles and segments of a bridge partially submerged in a river in the Donbas region.
The images showed many more damaged or abandoned vehicles, including tanks, in the woods and on the track leading to the river.
The UK Ministry of Defence said the footage suggested that Russia had lost almost an entire battalion and the pontoon bridging equipment deployed while crossing the Siverskyi Donets river west of Severodonetsk.