ISLE OF Wight MP Bob Seely emphasised his grave concerns for Ukraine's ability to defend itself in its war with Russia, in an urgent question to the government's Defence Minister in the Commons.  

In Parliament, Defence Minister James Cartlidge highlighted the UK’s contribution to Ukraine since 2014, when Russia invaded Crimea, which includes training more than 60,000 recruits and committing almost £12 billion in economic and humanitarian military aid since the full-scale invasion in 2022.

But he acknowledged “we need to do more” as he and other MPs pressed allies to step up their efforts.

A recent UK pledge included investing £245 million in producing artillery shells for Ukraine, although Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has been struggling to convince Republicans in Washington to facilitate a major United States funding package for Kyiv.

Conservative MP and former army officer, Mr Seely, then told the minister: “The equipment pledged by Nato nations is not reaching Ukraine in anything like the amounts promised.”

He added he believes less than a third of the one million shells promised by EU nations have arrived in Ukraine, and warned about a lack of trained F-16 pilots.

“The Ukrainians are perilously short of air defence. This is at a time when the Russians are on a war footing — 40 per cent of all government spending being geared towards the destruction of the Ukrainian state.”

Mr Seely questioned if defence intelligence, and the government, believe Ukraine will be able to hold their current positions and, if so, for how long.

He also warned Ukrainian soldiers are dying because “they lack kit”.

He asked the Defence Minister: “Does he accept this is becoming an acutely dangerous situation for everybody, because the forces of fascism are beginning to overpower free states and their Nato allies — and where does he believe we may be in the next few months in terms of security throughout Europe?”

In response, Mr Cartlidge said: “I was in RAF Valley very recently and, as I understand it, we’ve trained 26 Ukrainians — or are training them — for elementary flying training.

"But, of course, we aren’t flying the F-16s. We have Typhoons and F-35s, so other countries will be providing the actual platforms.

“In terms of air defence, he’s (Mr Seely) absolutely right. This is a critical part of the conflict. We need to supply more. We’ve provided over 1,000 air defence systems, but we want to do more.

“I think, fundamentally, he’s right to warn all of us — and indeed our allies — of the risk of the situation being reversed.

"We do know, with some certainty, when the war started, perhaps we’d have all been surprised to be in this situation, with Ukraine having won back so much territory and, frankly, remained in the fight.

"That is thanks, in a huge part, to the role of the UK, and we should be very proud of that.”

Mr Cartlidge highlighted coalitions on drones and maritime, adding: “We’re clear we need to do more and our allies need to stay with us in the fight.”

Conservative former minister, Tobias Ellwood, said “Europe is at war”, as he warned Russian president Vladimir Putin is now “more powerful than Stalin”.

“I’ve just returned from Ukraine and there was absolutely nothing but praise for what Britain has done in providing the munitions and equipment that’s required — and indeed, in standing up to Putin, when so many others blinked at that moment," Mr Elwood said.

“But it’s very, very clear that what is happening in Ukraine will move out further than that.

"Putin is now more powerful than Stalin, trying to emulate what Stalin did in eastern Europe. Can we agree that Europe is at war?”

Conservative former leader, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, said he had used a visit to the United States to warn politicians they are “facing an axis of authoritarianism” of China, Russia, North Korea, Iran — and “they are winning”.

He added: “When I was in Ukraine, I saw them taking mines out with bayonets. That’s the Ukrainians not having the equipment.

“What this has done has told us none of us are ready for what war really is all about — barbed wire, minefields and artillery shells. We need to do more.”

For Labour, shadow defence minister, Luke Pollard, said: “There could be a change in government this year, but there will be no change in Britain’s resolve to stand with Ukraine, confront Russian aggression and pursue Putin for his war crimes.”