UK promises £1.3 billion for Ukraine military aid

G7 leaders are meeting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday

The Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol has become a symbol of Ukraine's resistance. EPA

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The UK will send £1.3 billion ($1.6bn) in military support for Ukraine and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's forces as they fight the Russian invasion.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden and leaders from other G7 nations will hold talks with Mr Zelenskyy on Sunday to discuss the additional support on offer.

For the UK, it is the highest rate of military spending on a conflict since the height of campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, a government spokesman said.

“Mr Putin's brutal attack is not only causing untold devastation in Ukraine, it is also threatening peace and security across Europe,” Mr Johnson said.

“The UK was the first country to recognise the scale of the threat and send arms to help the Ukrainians defend themselves.

“We will stand by that endeavour, working with our allies to ensure Ukraine can continue to push back the Russian invasion and survive as a free and democratic country.

“In the process, we are bolstering our own security and economy, turbocharging the development and production of cutting-edge defence equipment here in the UK.”

The £1.3bn, drawn from the UK's reserves, includes £300 million of military kit promised by Mr Johnson earlier this week, such as anti-battery radar systems to target Russian artillery, GPS jamming equipment and night vision devices.

The prime minister will host a meeting of arms companies later this month to discuss increasing production in response to the demand created by the conflict in Ukraine.

The funding comes on top of earlier commitments worth about £1.5bn, which included some £400m in humanitarian aid and loan guarantees for £700m in additional World Bank lending.

UK government officials said the announcement would help support the British arms industry, which could benefit from the global shift away from reliance on equipment from sanctions-hit Russia.

“The situation in Ukraine continues to cause immense suffering with every day bringing new, tragic stories of Putin's brutality,” said Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

“We are unwavering in our support for the people of Ukraine and this extra £1.3 billion will ensure we continue to provide the necessary military and operational support they need to defend themselves against Putin.

“The UK is at the forefront providing economic, humanitarian and defensive support to Ukraine and we are working tirelessly to bring an end to this conflict.”

In the US, Mr Biden has promised a package including artillery shells, radars and other military equipment.

Sunday's online meeting of G7 leaders on Victory in Europe Day could also consider additional sanctions on Russia.

The White House views the meeting as a way of displaying western unity on the eve of Moscow's traditional May 9 victory day parade.

Updated: May 08, 2022, 4:51 AM
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