Sunak to announce UK’s ‘largest ever’ military support package for Ukraine

The package includes missiles, armoured vehicles and funds to build swarms of new drones.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attend a security accord signing ceremony at the Presidential Palace, in Kyiv, Ukraine, January 12, 2024. [Thomas Peter/Reuters]

The United Kingdom has unveiled its largest ever military support package to help Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion.

London said in a statement on Tuesday that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will give details on the 500-million-pound ($620m) package during a visit to Poland. Ukraine has been calling desperately for increased aid as Russian forces have started to make headway on the front lines and have increased their air strikes.

The UK made the announcement as the White House seeks to push through a long-delayed aid package from the United States worth about $60bn.

The money will take the overall total of UK military aid to Ukraine to 3 billion pounds ($3.71bn) in the current financial year, the British government said.

The new package will fund ammunition, air defences, drones and engineering support. The government said the drones “will be procured in the UK and the funds will support a scale-up in domestic defence supply chains”.

What the UK is calling its “largest ever single package of equipment” will also include 60 boats and more than 1,600 attack and defence missiles as well as Storm Shadow long-range, precision-guided missiles.

More than 400 vehicles, including 162 armoured vehicles, will also be delivered as well as 4 million rounds of small arms ammunition.

“Defending Ukraine against Russia’s brutal ambitions is vital for our security and for all of Europe. If Putin is allowed to succeed in this war of aggression, he will not stop at the Polish border,” Sunak said.

In Warsaw, Sunak is slated to meet with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to discuss bilateral relations and with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to discuss European security and support for Ukraine. He will then travel to Germany to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin.

UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said the package will help restore stability in Europe.

“The UK was the first to provide NLAW missiles, the first to give modern tanks and the first to send long-range missiles,” he said.

“Now, we are going even further. We will never let the world forget the existential battle Ukraine is fighting, and with our enduring support, they will win.”

The British prime minister’s office said Sunak has a proposition for Poland as well, offering to “deploy an RAF [royal air force] Typhoon squadron to carry out NATO air policing over Poland next year”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been calling for more help from the West. Russia has made relative military gains in recent months and continues to mount attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure.

The US House of Representatives on Saturday passed a $60bn military aid package for Ukraine. The package is awaiting approval by the Senate, which is expected to begin discussions this week.

Source: Al Jazeera