UK announces $620 million in new military aid for Ukraine, plan to up own defense spending

Warsaw, Poland — U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced Tuesday that the country is to increase defense spending to 2.5% of GDP by the end of the decade.

Sunak made the announcement during a visit to Warsaw, where he also described a new pledge to send arms to Ukraine.

He said the government is putting the U.K.’s defense industry “on a war footing,” describing it as the “biggest strengthening of our national defense for a generation.”

“In a world that is the most dangerous it has been since the end of the Cold War, we cannot be complacent,” he said at a news briefing in Warsaw alongside NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg. “As our adversaries align, we must do more to defend our country, our interests and our values.

The announce followed the U.K. pledging an additional $620 million in new military supplies for Ukraine, including long-range missiles and 4 million rounds of ammunition, at a time when Ukraine is struggling to hold off advancing Russian forces on the eastern front line of the war, now in its third year.

Sunak spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to confirm the assistance and “assure him of the U.K.’s steadfast support for Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s brutal and expansionist ambitions,” Sunak’s office said.

Ahead of the visit the U.K. government said Sunak would announce 500 million pounds ($620 million, 580 million euros) in new British military supplies, including 400 vehicles, 60 boats, 1,600 munitions and 4 million rounds of ammunition. The shipment will include British Storm Shadow long-range missiles, which have a range of some 150 miles (241 kilometers) and have proved effective at hitting Russian targets.

“President Zelenskyy thanked the prime minister for the U.K.’s continued support, saying the new military assistance would make a material difference to ordinary Ukrainians fighting on the front line to defend their country,” Downing Street said.

However, Downing Street did not indicate whether the aid would be immediately available for delivery. Zelenskyy has pleaded for greater international assistance, warning that his country will lose the war without it.

The announcement came three days after the U.S. House of Representatives approved $61 billion in aid for Ukraine, as American lawmakers raced to deliver a fresh round of U.S. support to the war-torn ally. The Senate was expected to vote on the package Tuesday.

Ammunition shortages over the past six months have led Ukrainian military commanders to ration shells, a disadvantage that Russia has seized on this year — taking the city of Avdiivka and currently inching towards the town of Chasiv Yar, also in the eastern Donetsk region.

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