UK government unveils $620 million top-up in Ukraine military aid

UK government unveils 0 million top-up in Ukraine military aid

LONDON — The British government has pledged to significantly increase spending on weapons for Ukraine as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak starts a two day visit to Germany and Poland.

A £500 million ($620 million) package of weapons is being added to a promise in January that Britain would contribute funding of £2.5 billion this financial year to supply Kyiv with a wide range of equipment for the military.

The latest top-up will see the British supply additional Storm Shadow strike missiles, air defense weapons, hundreds of armored vehicles, four million rounds of small arms ammunition, drones, boats and other equipment.

The weapons package is being billed by the British as its largest single delivery of weapons to Kyiv since the start of the Russian invasion.

“Ensuring Ukraine wins is the most important thing we can do for global peace and security. That’s why we’re increasing our support – backing Ukraine with £500 million for military aid and delivering our largest-ever package of equipment said Sunak in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Sunak meets new Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg Apr. 23 ahead of traveling to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The promise of the new arms package for Ukraine may be the first of several defense-related announcements by the British.

The Sunak’s office has already briefed media that they will offer to deploy a squadron of Royal Air Force Typhoon combat jets to Poland in the coming months.

The British move to bolster defense spending for Ukraine to £3 billion this year is the second boost for Kyiv’s dwindling weapon stocks in the last few days.

After months of political wrangling the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $61 billion aid bill to supply Ukraine with fresh weapons.

The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate, but that is expected to happen this week.

While the British continue to provide large amounts of military aid to Ukraine – they are the second-largest European contributor of weapons behind Germany – leaders here have come under increasing pressure to spend more on defense at home.

Politicians, even Cabinet ministers in Sunak’s government, military officers and the media have called for an immediate increase in spending to 2.5% of gross domestic spending from the current level just above 2% percent.

Sunak used the visit to Poland to announce the government would do just that, targeting 2030 as the year when the higher defense-spending rate would be reached.

The plan would see defense spending rise by £75 billion over the next six years. Previously the government had only said it would spend more when the economy allowed.

Speaking alongside Stoltenberg in Warsaw, Sunak said the boost would make Britain “by far the largest defense power in Europe,” calling it a “generational investment in British security.”

Also part of the plan is dedicated spending on ammunitions production to the tune of £10 billion, Sunak said. “We will put the U.K.’s own defense industry on a war footing,” he said, promising companies long-term commitments for government purchases.

Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris contributed to this report.

Editor’s note: This story was updated after publication to include new defense-spending plans announced by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.

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