PM Rishi Sunak reaffirms UK defensive support to Ukraine for new year
The British Indian leader’s call came as the UK announced that it will supply “hundreds of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition” next year, under a GBP 250-million contract.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during his visit to RAF Coningsby in Linconshire following the announcement that Britain will work to develop next-generation fighter jets with Italy and Japan, on December 9, 2022 in Lincoln, United Kingdom. (Photo by Joe Giddens – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak used a European summit in the Latvian capital of Riga to reaffirm the UK’s support for Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia and announced a fresh defensive aid package for the new year as part of a GBP 250-million contract.
Addressing the meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), which brings together 10 like-minded nations to prevent conflict in the Nordic and Baltic region, Sunak called on the regional leaders to sustain or exceed 2022 levels of support for Ukraine in 2023 through ongoing military aid, economic resilience and political backing. The JEF meeting, which brought together the UK, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway, was also addressed by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenksyy.
“From the Arctic Circle to the Isle of Wight, the UK and our European allies have been in lockstep in our response to the invasion of Ukraine, and we remain steadfast in our ambition for peace in Europe once again,” said Sunak.
“But to achieve peace, we must deter aggression and our deployments across the region together are vital in ensuring we are able to respond to the gravest of threats. I know this Joint Expeditionary Force summit will only underline our close friendships and unwavering support for Ukraine,” he said.
The British Indian leader’s call came as the UK announced that it will supply “hundreds of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition” next year, under a GBP 250-million contract that will ensure a constant flow of critical artillery ammunition to Ukraine throughout 2023.
The UK claims to be Europe’s leading provider of defensive aid to Ukraine, including sending Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and recently, 125 anti-aircraft guns. It has also provided more than 100,000 rounds of ammunition since February, with the deliveries being directly linked to successful operations to retake territory in Ukraine.
“For our part in the United Kingdom, we have pledged to match or exceed the GBP 2.3bn in aid that we provided this year, next year, and I would very much hope and encourage others around the table to do whatever they can to continue the strong support,” added Sunak.
At the summit, the leaders are said to have discussed the defensive capabilities needed by Ukrainian forces, including further air defence. Also on the agenda were plans to accelerate cooperation among JEF nations, bolster intelligence sharing, strengthen defences to hybrid threats and protect critical national infrastructure.
As part of that increased collaboration, the allies also discussed support to Finland and Sweden ahead of their accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and scaling up joint exercises to further strengthen the JEF alliance.
Following the JEF summit, Sunak is scheduled to meet the newly-reappointed Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš for a bilateral, underscoring the close partnership between the two countries, before travelling on to Estonia, where he will meet UK and NATO troops serving on NATO’s eastern flank.
In Estonia, Sunak is scheduled to sign a new tech partnership with Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. Downing Street said the joint partnership is set to harness the shared expertise between the two countries, helping both the UK and Estonia bolster technology ties and support new digital infrastructure.