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23 Apr, 2024 01:12

UK announces ‘largest-ever’ military aid package for Ukraine

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promises more long-range missiles, dozens of boats, and hundreds of armored vehicles
UK announces ‘largest-ever’ military aid package for Ukraine

The UK has revealed plans to provide the largest package of British military assistance to Ukraine. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will officially unveil the new aid plan when he travels to Warsaw on Tuesday for talks with his Polish counterpart, Donald Tusk.

The package is valued at £500 million ($617 million) and will include more than 400 vehicles, 60 boats, and an undisclosed number of long-range Storm Shadow missiles, Sunak’s office said in a statement, calling it the “largest-ever provision of vital munitions.” The announcement comes as the US is expected to approve a $61 billion military and aid package for Kiev.

“Defending Ukraine against Russia’s brutal ambitions is vital for our security and for all of Europe,” Sunak claimed. “If Putin is allowed to succeed in this war of aggression, he will not stop at the Polish border.”

The latest round of weaponry will bring London’s military aid to Kiev to £3 billion this year alone. It will also include 1,600 strike and air defense missiles and nearly 4 million rounds of small arms ammunition.

“Today’s package will help ensure Ukraine has what they need to take the fight to Russia,” Sunak said. “The United Kingdom will always play its part at the forefront of European security, defending our national interest and standing by our NATO allies.”

The statement comes two days after the US House of Representatives approved a long-stalled emergency spending bill that includes $61 billion in additional Ukraine aid. US President Joe Biden pledged on Monday to quickly ramp up weapons shipments to Kiev once the spending legislation is approved by the Senate, which could happen as soon as Tuesday.

The administration of US President Joe Biden ran out of Ukraine funding earlier this year, after using up $113 billion in congressionally approved aid packages. Disruptions in support from Washington, by far Kiev’s biggest benefactor, led to ammunition shortages that were blamed for battlefield setbacks in recent months. Other NATO members and the EU responded by boosting their aid commitments, such as a €500 million package given by Germany last month.

UK defense chief Grant Shapps hailed the fact that London was the first ally to give Ukraine long-range missiles and “modern” tanks. “Now, we are going even further,” he said in the statement. “We will never let the world forget the existential battle Ukraine is fighting, and with our enduring support, they will win.” He added that the latest round of aid will give Ukraine what it needs to push back Russian forces and “restore peace and stability in Europe.”

Ukrainian leaders are reportedly less sanguine about the potential impact of additional Western weaponry. The $61 billion US aid bill – nearly 100 times the scale of the UK’s latest gift – is unlikely to “dramatically alter Kiev’s situation on the frontline,” the Financial Times reported on Monday, citing unidentified Ukrainian officials and military analysts.

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