Ukraine strikes major deal with UK
The Ukrainian parliament has ratified an agreement with Britain to secure more than $2 billion in funds for the construction of missile boats and the modernization of its current fleet amid tensions with neighboring Russia.
The Verkhovna Rada approved the contract on Thursday, with 275 parliamentarians voting for the move – above the required threshold of 226 for a simple majority.
“The agreement provides official support to Ukraine in the form of loans not exceeding £1.7 billion pounds, or the equivalent in US dollars [almost $2.3 billion] or euros,” according to a handout from the parliamentary Information Department.
Speaking in parliament, Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Polishchuk said that “the provisions of the framework agreement provide for the implementation of investment projects on the purchase and joint production of two minehunters, including their delivery and maintenance.”
He also noted that the deal will allow for “the joint construction of eight missile boats and frigates, the delivery and modernization of weapons on existing ships, consulting and technical support for the construction of naval infrastructure.”
London and Kiev signed the treaty in November. In a statement, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and his counterpart Aleksey Reznikov said the two governments “have no desire to be adversarial, or seek in any way to strategically encircle or undermine the Russian Federation."
Ukrainian and Western officials have sounded the alarm several times in recent months of an imminent offensive, pointing to Moscow’s troop movements near its border with Ukraine, where they estimate 100,000 Russian soldiers are stationed.
However, the Kremlin has repeatedly rejected accusations that the country’s armed forces are planning to strike its neighbor, with its Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov calling such claims “groundless.”