LONDON: The UK government pledged an additional 1.3 billion pounds in military support to Ukraine during this financial year to help the country counter Russian forces in the ongoing conflict, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other G7 leaders met virtually with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday.
The meeting came on a day, which is being marked across Europe as VE Day – or Victory in Europe Day that ended World War II on May 8, 1945. The additional UK funding will go towards electronic warfare equipment, a counter battery radar system, GPS jamming equipment and thousands of night vision devices, among other military kit pledged by Johnson earlier.
“[Russian President] Putin‘s brutal attack is not only causing untold devastation in Ukraine – it is also threatening peace and security across Europe,” said Johnson.
“The UK was the first country to recognise the scale of the threat and sent 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,” he said.
The extra 1.3 billion pounds comes from the Reserve, funds the UK government said it has set aside for the most pressing emergencies.
This latest commitment is in addition to the UK’s current package for Ukraine that totals well over 1.5 billion pounds. The support already provided includes around 400 million pounds in humanitarian aid and grants and unlocking over 700 million pounds in additional World Bank lending through loan guarantees.
“The situation in Ukraine continues to cause immense suffering with every day bringing new, tragic stories of Putin’s brutality,” said UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
“We are unwavering in our support for the people of Ukraine – and this extra 1.3 billion pounds 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,” he said.
The latest announcement is also said to help support the defence industry in the UK, with Johnson and UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace set to host a meeting of leading defence companies later this month to discuss “ramping up” production in response to increased demand created by the conflict in Ukraine and a global shift away from Russian-made weaponry.