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UK to give Ukraine further £1bn of military support to fight Putin

UK to give Ukraine further £1bn of military support to fight Putin

The latest announcement, which came at the end of the first full day of the Nato summit in Madrid on Wednesday, takes Britain’s total economic and military support for Kyiv to £3.8bn this year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “UK weapons, equipment and training are transforming Ukraine’s defences against this onslaught. And we will continue to stand squarely behind the Ukrainian people to ensure Putin fails in Ukraine.”

The new commitment from Britain is part of a wider package of support for Ukraine agreed at the Nato summit. Earlier on Wednesday the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Nato leaders that the cost of fighting the war against Russia was around $5bn a month.

He renewed his appeal for more weapons to help his forces resist Russia but added that it was financial support which was now crucial to the future of his country.

Number 10 said Britain’s new tranche of support for Ukraine will go towards boosting Kyiv’s defensive capabilities including sophisticated air defence systems, drones, innovative new electronic warfare equipment and thousands of pieces of vital kit for Ukrainian soldiers. It is also understood it will include ammunition.

The Government says the extra £1bn means only the US has provided more military support to Ukraine since the start of the war on February 24.

Support has so far included more than 5,000 NLAW anti-tank missiles which are made in Northern Ireland, long-range multiple launch rocket systems, and artillery systems, including 155mm self propelled guns.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures during the Nato summit in Madrid

/ REUTERS

Britain has also offered a comprehensive new training programme to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

In his statement announcing the new support, Mr Johnson added: “Putin’s brutality continues to take Ukrainian lives and threaten peace and security across Europe.

“As Putin fails to make the gains he had anticipated and hoped for and the futility of this war becomes clear to all, his attacks against the Ukrainian people are increasingly barbaric.”

Downing Street said funding for the new support would come from the underspend of departments across the UK Government and £95 million in contributions from the Scottish and Welsh Governments’ budgets.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Britain’s commitment to Ukraine was “real and constant” and that the UK would stand by Kyiv “until Russia changes course”.

He added that that he was “relieved” the funding for the new support was not coming out of his already stretched defence budget.

“If it wasn’t coming as extra money it would be coming out of my budget so I am pretty relieved it’s extra money,” he told reporters in Madrid.

“I don’t care how the money is labelled…its fundamentally now helping Ukraine defeat Russia in Ukraine and a worn out Russian army is a definite medium and long term benefit to the United Kingdom.”

In his virtual address to Nato leaders earlier, President Zelensky said the war was not being waged by Russia against only Ukraine but “a war for the right to dictate conditions in Europe – for what the future world order will be like”.

kraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky appears on a giant screen as he delivers a statement at the start of the first plenary session of the Nato summit in Madrid

/ AFP via Getty Images

He added: “Financial support for Ukraine is now no less important than aid with weapons. We need about $ 5 billion a month – and that’s a fundamental thing. This is exactly what is needed for defence, for security.”

On Wednesday Moscow’s battle to wrest the entire Donbas region from Ukraine saw Russian forces pushing towards two Luhansk province villages south of the city of Lysychansk, while Ukrainian troops fought to prevent their encirclement.

Meanwhile, crews continued to search through the rubble of the shopping centre in Kremenchuk where Ukrainian authorities said 20 people remained missing. Authorities in the city declared three days of mourning.

The blast from Monday’s airstrike was so powerful, relatives may not be able to recover any trace of their loved ones’ remains.

Ukrainian state emergency services press officer Svitlana Rybalko said that along with the 18 people killed, investigators had found fragments of eight more bodies. A number of survivors were being treated for injuries such as skull fractures and severed limbs.

Following talks on day one of the summit, Nato issued a declaration announcing more support for Ukraine and a new 10 year strategy which will significantly enhance the organisation’s defences against Russia on Europe’s eastern borders.

It also confirmed Finland and Sweden would be invited to join the alliance – a process which must now be rubber stamped by the parliaments of each of its 30 members – and acknowledged for the first time the “systemic competition” presented by China.

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