Ukraine and its allies should seek to offer Vladimir Putin something that will “enable him to save face”, a Conservative former defence minister has suggested.

Andrew Murrison was speaking in the Commons as MPs debated the situation in Ukraine.

But Defence Minister James Heappey appeared to reject the idea, saying he would not say the Russian leader “deserves any further opportunities for an off-ramp when he has made his decision on what should come next”.

Dr Murrison, the MP for South West Wiltshire, served as a defence minister between 2012 and 2014, and more recently served for just under a year as a Foreign Office minister until February 2020.

He told the Commons: “Unless we’re going to defeat Russia in classical terms – which is unlikely and desirable – there has to be an off-ramp to allow Putin to construct a narrative that will go down well amongst his population and through the media, which he controls.

“It’s just not acceptable to say that we cannot offer Putin something out of this that will enable him to save face and therefore get whatever it is through with his population.”

Mr Heappey replied: “I’m not sure I agree with (Dr Murrison) entirely. If Putin was looking for an off-ramp he’s had plenty of opportunities to de-escalate and claim victory at some points along the route.

“In the 48 hours immediately following the mobilisation of Russian society, which is a clear escalation, I’m certainly not – representing His Majesty’s Government – going to stand here and say he deserves any further opportunities for an off-ramp when he has made his decision on what should come next.”

Elsewhere in the debate, Mr Heappey told MPs that Russia “lacks sufficient manpower in the field to achieve any of its objectives and the mood of Moscow is changing quickly”.

Pressed about Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats, Mr Heappey described it as “nuclear sabre-rattling” before noting it is the “act of a desperate man who knows this is not going his way”.

Speaking later in debate, Conservative former defence secretary Liam Fox warned: “It may be sabre-rattling – but it may be not. We have miscalculated with Putin before. We can’t afford to miscalculate again. He is a tyrant with a tyrant’s behaviour.”

After the debate, MPs approved a series of motions for new strengthened sanctions against Russia.

The sanctions include preventing exports of goods and technology from the defence sector, as well as chemicals, metals, and fertilisers, and banning more UK investments and services in Russia.