Rishi Sunak announced that the UK will provide an additional £2.5bn in military assistance to Ukraine, marking Britain’s most substantial annual commitment since Russia’s invasion. The Prime Minister disclosed this during a rare visit to Ukraine, where he is set to finalize a new agreement aimed at bolstering Ukraine’s long-term security.
This comprehensive package is set to furnish Ukraine with long-range missiles, air defense capabilities, and artillery shells, including an allocation of £200m for drones, predominantly of UK origin. Notably, this military support, earmarked for the upcoming financial year starting in April, represents the largest delivery of drones to Ukraine by any nation.
Contrary to suggestions for a multi-year financial commitment, Mr. Sunak opted for a one-year investment, defying some ministers and military leaders who believed a more extended commitment would send a stronger signal of sustained British support to Moscow. The decision involves an expenditure exceeding the previous two years by £200m, surpassing the annual military commitment to Ukraine, which was £2.3bn.
Downing Street asserted that this support package marks the inaugural phase of an enduring “unshakeable hundred-year partnership” between the UK and Ukraine. Additionally, it includes £18bn for humanitarian aid, assistance in fortifying Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, and increased funding for online English language training.
In his statement, Mr. Sunak, visiting Ukraine for the first time in 15 months, emphasized the unwavering commitment of the UK to stand by Ukraine through challenging times and better days to come. He underscored the significance of the UK-Ukraine relationship, stating that Ukraine’s security is intertwined with that of the UK.
This commitment by the UK follows sustained pressure from MPs for greater clarity on support for Ukraine, with criticisms about delayed communication hindering Ukrainian military planning. It also occurs at a time when the US and the European Union face challenges in reaching consensus on their respective support packages for Ukraine, amid urgent needs for ammunition and missiles.
The UK-Ukraine agreement, signed during this visit, encompasses various bilateral assurances of military and economic support. The intention is to act as a deterrent against Russian aggression before Ukraine potentially joins NATO. Officials highlighted that the UK is the first G7 country to formalize such a pact, fulfilling the commitment made by all G7 nations at the NATO summit in Vilnius the previous year.