Putin is finished and his army is broken

WHEN I was invited to war-torn Ukraine by brave MP Kira Rudyk during a chat on GMB, I wanted to take up the challenge and see the devastation in Kyiv firsthand.

What I saw in this beautiful city, smitten by Russian aggressionShe was brutal and will be with me forever.

Johnny Mercer visited Ukraine to see the devastation firsthand


Johnny Mercer visited Ukraine to see the devastation firsthandPhoto credit: Channel4
The deputy saw residential buildings destroyed by cruise missiles


The deputy saw residential buildings destroyed by cruise missilesPhoto credit: Channel4

During my trip – filmed for a Channel 4 Dispatches special airing tonight – I saw the body of a woman who was shot by Russian soldiers as she ran for her life and could end up in a mass grave if one tries to find her family in vain.

I met a distressed mother whose 13-year-old son was hospitalized with seven gunshot wounds sustained in an attack on the family car that killed her husband on the first night of the attack on Kyiv.

They were driving down a ramp onto one of the main roads when the vehicle was fired upon by a “technician” – a truck with a rear-mounted machine gun.

The boy hid behind the school bag, which saved his life, but he was left with bullets in his spine.

We cannot rest until Ukraine prevails and Vladimir Putin fails

I’ve seen apartment buildings destroyed by cruise missile attacks the night before, despite the narrative spread by Putin and others targeting them Ukrainian defensive positions and accidental clipping of buildings, kill civilians.

Having served ten years in the military I can clearly see apartment blocks being attacked – the missiles had pretty much gone through the mailbox.

A lady told me that at 5am she swept her house and a cruise missile smashed through the window. She had lost everything. She was totally shocked.

This is deliberate and indiscriminate targeting of the civilian population of Kyiv.

But what impressed me the most during my trip was the courage and determination of the Ukrainian people.

You are obviously very afraid. They are dealing with a real strategic threat to their homeland, something we haven’t seen in Britain for three generations.

But I’ve never seen an army so dedicated to their defense and their job. In my own military career I have worked with Afghans and they are great people who have fought hard but are torn by tribal differences. I was amazed at the deep unity of intentions among the defenders of Kyiv.

They are grateful for the support Britain has shown them so far. A badly wounded man told me he wanted to thank the people of Britain, adding: “I don’t feel abandoned and Ukraine doesn’t feel abandoned, thank you for the work you are doing.”

But they need more help.

This 13-year-old boy lost his father and suffered gunshot wounds in a Russian ambush


This 13-year-old boy lost his father and suffered gunshot wounds in a Russian ambushPhoto credit: Channel4
Destroyed buildings refute Russian claims that they are not targeting civilians


Destroyed buildings refute Russian claims that they are not targeting civiliansPhoto credit: Channel4

We can close the sky with no jets

While other people are growing weary of this process, we should redouble our support for Ukraine. That way they could break up a pretty poor Russian army and put this part of the world on the path to peace.

NATO will not enforce a no-fly zone with planes because that would be considered an act of aggression, but there are other ways to close the skies.

There are technical air defense systems that we can give to Ukraine for purely defensive purposes that will help it hold its ground in Kyiv.

In the past, when we were delivering lethal aid to Afghanistan and other war zones, the Stinger missiles were difficult to use and often missed.

Even when I was in the Army, we used a missile with a wire coming out the back and struggled to hit the target.

The Javelin missiles that we’re shipping now are much more accurate, you can lock them on target, there’s a lot less training effort, and they have about a 93 percent hit rate. This is unheard of.

But what we always seem to get wrong in this country is that we look at this war through the prism of previous wars.

This isn’t the Cold War rehashing, it’s not Afghanistan, it’s not Iraq. Technology has changed everything. We have to learn that and adapt to it.

This is a fifth generation warfare where you have a smaller and less trained force in the Ukrainians that outperforms the Russian force due to technology, clever operations and unified objectives that surprised the Russians.

Biggest military mistake in a century

When he attacked Ukraine, Putin thought the Russians would take Kyiv on the first night.

But he made one of the most significant military miscalculations of the past 100 years.

People forget that Russia has the GDP of Italy, so it’s not a rich country, but there is also a lot of corruption among generals and brigade commanders who are authorized to buy military equipment.

Putin has been lied to about Russia’s capabilities and readiness.

Johnny Mercer

So Putin was lied to about Russia’s capabilities and readiness. He’s surrounded himself with people who will tell him what he wants to hear.

They’re only really found out when things like this happen, and they’ve really been found out.

By invading Ukraine, Putin has isolated and ruined his country. I don’t see a way out for him at the moment and that alone makes him dangerous.

Ending this war requires the full economic and military support of the Ukrainian people and government. As Moscow begins to pull back, I worry that people will think it’s all over and ease up with sanctions and military aid.

That couldn’t be more wrong for the people of Ukraine.

Ukraine: On The Front Line airs Sunday at 5:30 p.m. on Channel 4

Johnny traveled to a frontline checkpoint for the doctor


Johnny traveled to a frontline checkpoint for the doctorPhoto credit: Channel4
MP Kira Rudik invited Johnny to Kyiv


MP Kira Rudik invited Johnny to KyivCredit: INSTAGRAM/KIRA RUDIK Putin is finished and his army is broken


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