UK pledges extra £1.3bn in military support for Ukraine ahead of G7 meeting

7 May 2022, 23:40

The UK is ramping up military support for Ukraine.
The UK is ramping up military support for Ukraine. Picture: Alamy/Facebook

By Emma Soteriou

The UK has ramped up its military support for Ukraine, announcing a further £1.3 billion ahead of a virtual G7 meeting on Sunday.

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The dramatic rise in support for Ukraine's forces marks the highest rate of UK military spending on a conflict since the height of campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden and leaders from other G7 nations will hold talks with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday to discuss further support on offer.

The £1.3 billion, 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.

Mr Johnson will also host a meeting of arms companies later this month to discuss increasing production in response to the demand from the Ukraine conflict.

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

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

The increase in support comes as Russia continues its attack on Ukraine.
The increase in support comes as Russia continues its attack on Ukraine. Picture: Alamy

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

"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."

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

Sunday's virtual meeting of G7 leaders on VE Day could also consider additional sanctions on Russia.

It comes after Ukraine officials confirmed that all women, children and elderly had been safely evacuated from the steel plant in Mariupol.

Ukraine's deputy prime minister, Iryna Veheshchuk, said: "The president's order has been carried out, all women, children and the elderly have been evacuated from Azovstal.

"This part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation has been completed."

She did not elaborate.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy going his daily address.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy going his daily address. Picture: Facebook

Russian news agency Tass reported another 50 had been evacuated from the plant on Saturday, following roughly 500 others who were allowed to leave the plant and other parts of the city in recent days.

Russian forces have intensified fire on the steelworks in recent days with mortars, artillery, truck-mounted rocket systems, aerial bombardment and shelling from the sea, making evacuation operations difficult.

It is still unclear what will happen to the Ukrainian fighters there - both those still in combat and the hundreds believed to be wounded.

The Ukrainian Government has approached a variety of international organisations to try to guarantee them safe passage, with the escape of civilians putting added pressure on Ukraine to find a way out for the fighters too, despite them vowing not to surrender.