UK to hike defense spending – Telegraph
Amid soaring inflation, the UK is set to boost defense spending in 2024-2025, The Telegraph has reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. The Ukraine conflict was among the reasons cited by Britain’s Ministry of Defence when justifying the spending increase to the Treasury, the paper reported.
The decision had already been made in principle though final figures are expected by spring 2023, when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt may officially announce the increase, the paper adds
The British government is seeking to ensure that the defense budget does not fall relative to inflation, according to the Telegraph.
“We will avoid a real-term cut in the defense budget,” an anonymous senior government source confirmed to the paper.
While former prime minister Boris Johnson did launch a major military investment program back in 2020 – the biggest since the end of the Cold War – Britain’s defense budget is still projected to fall in real terms between 2022 and 2024 due to soaring inflation, the article noted.
Professor Malcolm Chalmers, deputy director-general of the Royal United Services Institute military think tank, told the outlet that the defense budget would have to rise from £48.6 billion to £50.1 billion ($60 billion) in 2024 to reach the government’s goal. That would translate to at least £1.5 billion ($1.8 billion) in expected additional investment.
The Treasury’s reported acquiescence may be down to geopolitical concerns raised by the British government, particularly in light of Russia’s military campaign against Ukraine, the article noted.
Since late February, when the conflict broke out, London has been one of Kiev’s staunchest backers, providing it with weapons and military training.
Back in September, the UK government pledged to spend as much or even more than it did in 2022 on military aid to Ukraine next year. According to the press release, Britain was “the second largest military donor” to Kiev, having committed some £2.3 billion ($2.8 billion) by that time.
Russia has, in turn, consistently condemned Western weapons deliveries to Ukraine, claiming these only serve to prolong the conflict. Moscow has also repeatedly warned that NATO member states are getting increasingly involved in the conflict, which could potentially lead to a direct military confrontation with Moscow.