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Russian offensive is ‘wake-up call’ for civilised countries – Grant Shapps

The Defence Secretary said an ‘attention deficit’ had seen Western nations distracted from the war in Ukraine.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps meets Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky

Russia’s fresh offensive in Ukraine should act as a “wake-up call” for nations that have become “distracted” by other conflicts, the Defence Secretary has said.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Wednesday he had postponed all upcoming foreign trips after Russian troops launched an advance in his country’s north-eastern Kharkiv region.

Some Ukrainian troops have been forced to withdraw in the face of the offensive, one of the most significant since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022.

Speaking to Sky News, Grant Shapps expressed confidence that Russia would not seize the city of Kharkiv but said the UK had predicted that an “attention deficit from civilised countries” would enable such a situation to develop.

Russia Ukraine War US Blinken
Antony Blinken (right) has announced extra support for Ukraine amid a renewed Russian offensive in the country’s north east (Brendan Smialowski/Pool/AP)

He said: “I really hope that this is the wake-up call that we have tried to issue now being heard, which is this is not a war in which you can afford to be fully attentive and then switch off or maybe get distracted into a different conflict and then expect nothing to change on the ground.”

He added: “We must back (the Ukrainians) all the time, not just periodically.”

Mr Shapps said the military aid package recently approved in the United States was now making its way to the front line and enabling Ukraine to resist the Russian advance but added that it had “obviously” taken too long to pass through the US Congress.

A shortage of manpower and ammunition has left Ukrainian forces stretched along a 620-mile front line, with Russia attempting to capitalise on those shortages.

Mr Zelensky has already announced the deployment of reinforcements to Kharkiv and the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, saying the situation is “under control”.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken announced a further military aid package for Ukraine worth 2 billion US dollars (£1.58 billion) on Wednesday during a two-day visit to the country.

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