Going down by 10k! BBC host grills Liz Truss over UK defence cuts despite Russia threat

Liz Truss grilled on cut in armed forces numbers

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Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was challenged on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme to defend plans to cut the size of the UK’s standing army despite the threat posed by Russia in Ukraine. Today presenter Nick Robinson pressed Ms Truss on remarks made by the head of the British Army calling for the Government to safeguard the number of “boots on the ground” that the UK could deploy to counter future threats. 

Mr Robinson asked the Foreign Secretary: “Is there not a mixed message in our cutting of the size of our army? While all of this is going on? Should we still be doing that that’s going down by 10,000 over the next few years?”

Ms Truss replied: “Well, what we need to make sure is that the defence capability we have is fit for purpose for the modern world, and we face all kinds of new threats, whether it’s cyber threats, threats in space, new technology, new weaponry, and what’s important is the overall shape of those forces.”

The Today Programme host interrupted: “Isn’t the point as well that the Head of the British Army and others point out that actually, if we’re now talking about holding territory, then we’re in a different form of potential war, fighting and that requires boots on the ground and it is perverse as he put in the head of the Army General Saunders, it is perverse to consider cutting the size of the Army when that is the kind of battle that you might have to fight.”

“Sounds to me like there is some internal discussions taking place about the precise deployment of forces but I think we all need to recognise that warfare now is different to warfare as it was 100 years ago, or, or 200 years ago,” replied the Foreign Secretary. 

JUST IN Russia reacts to NATO as it intensifies attacks

“But he says you can’t take a bridge with cyber,” pointed out Mr Robinson. 

“That is true but nevertheless, we also face cyber threats that we need to deal with so we need the full range of capabilities, including naval capabilities, air capabilities, and cyber capabilities,” replied Ms Truss.

“I know the Defence Secretary has worked very hard on making sure that we have the right balance of those different capabilities.”

She continued: “Of course, we will need to evolve those capabilities over time, none of us expected to see this scale of a land war in Europe, in our lifetimes. It’s completely changed and is completely changing the dynamic.”

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The debate over Britain’s defence spending raged as the 30 national NATO leaders met in Madrid while Russian forces intensified attacks in Ukraine, including missile strikes and shelling on the southern Mykolaiv region close to front lines and the Black Sea.

The mayor of Mykolaiv city said a Russian missile had killed at least five people in a residential building there, while Moscow said its forces had hit what it called a training base for foreign mercenaries in the region.

Attacks on the northeastern city of Kharkiv continued, Ukraine’s military said, with shelling from tanks, mortars, and missiles.

Video showed police and emergency workers examining the destroyed remains of a factory and damaged residential buildings in Kharkiv on Wednesday.

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In the southern Kherson region, Ukrainian forces were fighting back with artillery strikes of their own, Oleskiy Arestovych, adviser to the Ukrainian president, said in a video posted online.

A video clip aired on Russia’s RIA state news agency showed former US soldier Alexander Drueke, who was captured while fighting for Ukrainian forces.

“My combat experience here was that one mission on that one day,” said Drueke, from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, referring to the day he was captured outside Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.

“I didn’t fire a shot. I would hope that would play a factor in whatever sentence I do or don’t receive.”

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