Speaking days after Russian missile strikes targeted Kyiv and a shopping centre in Kremenchuk that left scores dead, defence secretary Ben Wallace said Russia could “lash out” at the UK and its European allies over their ongoing support for Ukraine.
Wallace told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday that Russia had already shown they were a threat to the West before the war began.
He said: “Russia has already lashed out. The use of cyber attacks by Russia has grown over the years, we've seen a number of attacks on our systems and our allies’ systems over the years.
“We've seen threats in public from Russia – whether that's nuclear or threats towards countries like Sweden, Lithuania and Poland even.
“This rhetoric is starting to get more directed at different nations.”
When asked whether the UK should be paying a price for Russia’s desire to occupy more of the Donbas, Wallace made parallels with Poland in the Second World War, telling the programme: “I think we should swap your words for Poland in 1939 – ‘Shouldn't we just let the Nazis have a little bit of Poland?’…
“Ukraine is being brutally invaded by a country that plays no rules.”
When asked what threat Putin poses to the UK, Wallace warned that the Russian president has already made threats – and “doesn’t lie”.
Watch: Putin suffering from 'small man syndrome macho view', says Ben Wallace
He added: “The actual threat is that the Russian system has a belief that if it is under threat they will take action against anyone or anybody who pose that threat.
“Their doctrine is not limited to geography or where their battlefield is.
“Secondly, one of the lessons from the last 15 years is people underestimate Putin. They have ignored what he has said publicly and have done so at their peril..
“There is a phrase that goes round that ‘Putin doesn't lie’. Putin has said lots of threats and often carries them out.
“It’s no good coming on your programme before something happens and say, 'We don't take him seriously’.”
Wallace said that Russia “is not winning in Ukraine”, and has made “metres” of advancement every day “at huge loss”.
The defence secretary earlier said that Putin has “small man syndrome” and a “macho” view of the world and described the Russian leader as a “lunatic”.
He told LBC: “Well I certainly think president Putin’s view of himself and the world is a small man syndrome, macho view.”
Wallace added: “But I think the real challenge here is the Russian system’s view that somehow some states are lesser than others, their rights don’t count. If they want to paint themselves into a new history, they seem to think the way to do that is through violence and invasion.
“And I think that’s something to worry about.”