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12 Jan, 2024 19:05

UK pledges largest military aid package to Ukraine yet

The military assistance was announced by PM Rishi Sunak during a visit to Kiev on Friday
UK pledges largest military aid package to Ukraine yet

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed during a visit to Kiev on Friday that his government is to supply Ukraine with £2.5 billion ($3.2 billion) in military assistance over the next financial year. It is to be the UK’s most significant annual aid commitment since the start of Russia’s offensive in February 2022.

The aid package, which will begin in the next financial year in April, was confirmed in a statement by Downing Street earlier on Friday and comes amid rising concerns in Kiev about dwindling support from its backers in Washington and Brussels.

Political in-fighting on either side of the Atlantic has threatened to legislatively curtail the torrent of Western financial assistance that has aided Ukraine in the conflict as dissent grows among some European and American lawmakers over failed efforts on the battlefield.

“I am here today with one message,” Sunak said in an address from the Ukrainian capital. “The UK will not falter. We will stand with Ukraine in their darkest hours and in the better times to come.” He added in a post to social media after arriving in Kiev: “To all Ukrainians, Britain is with you – for as long as it takes.”

Downing Street said that the aid package is the first step in what it called a “totemic” security agreement with Ukraine, which it said will develop into an “unshakeable hundred-year partnership” between both countries.

The bilateral accord detailed by Sunak’s government – the UK-Ukraine Agreement on Security Cooperation – includes a range of measures on UK security guarantees for Ukraine. The agreement also formalizes Britain’s “swift and sustained” defensive assistance for Ukraine “in the event that it is ever attacked by Russia again.”

“We recognize that their security is our security,” Sunak said.

The aid package confirmed by London on Friday is about £200 million ($254 million) larger than those that came over the previous two years and will supply Ukraine with long-range missiles, air defense, and artillery ammunition. About £200 million of the military aid will be spent on drones – the largest such contribution of state-of-the-art military drone hardware since the onset of hostilities nearly two years ago.

It also includes £18 million ($23 million) in humanitarian aid, as well as assistance to Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and funding for online English language training.

The UK’s updated aid provision to Kiev will likely return the focus to legislators in Europe and the United States, where Congress has declined to advance a $50 billion (£39 billion) security package. The White House said on Thursday that its support for Ukraine has “ground to a halt” as a result.

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