Britain has ‘run out of defence equipment to donate to Ukraine’ and ‘given away all we can afford’, military source warns
- Former defence secretary Ben Wallace said the UK needed to increase funding
Britain has run out of defence equipment to donate to Ukraine, a senior military chief has claimed as they urged other countries to step up and provide more support.
The military official said Ukraine now requires ‘air defence assets and artillery ammunition’ in the next phase of the war – supplies which the UK has now ‘run dry on’.
‘We’ve given away all we can afford,’ the source told The Daily Telegraph.
It comes after former defence secretary Ben Wallace urged the prime minister to increase military support to Ukraine by more than £2 billion – a rise of 50 per cent.
The veteran Conservative argued that with extra Western weapons, Kyiv could ‘end’ the battle against Russia and expel the invaders.
Commenting on Wallace’s plea for further aid, the source said it should not fall on the UK to be the ones providing the ‘billions’ in military support required as they warned of depleted stocks.
Ukrainian servicemen of the Spartan Brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine prepare a shell for a D-30 howitzer at a position at a front line, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine September 13
Then Defence Secretary Ben Wallace speaks to the media during his visit to the Tapa Military Camp, in Estonia, Thursday, January 19
‘Giving billions more doesn’t mean giving billions of British kit,’ the source told the Telegraph, before stating that the UK needed to encourage ‘other nations to give more money and weapons’.
The military chief said the UK was already giving away as much as we can afford.
Writing for The Daily Telegraph on Sunday, Wallace – who stepped down from the defence brief in a mini-reshuffle in August – lamented that the UK was no longer Kyiv’s biggest military backer in Europe, having slipped behind Germany.
Wallace’s call for additional resources to be sent to Ukraine comes as the debate grows in the West about the level of backing to continue offering the partially occupied nation.
On Monday, aid for Ukraine was omitted from the US’s stop-gap budget bill, potentially depleting its powers as it fights the Russian invasion that began last February.
Democrats hope to pass a separate aid measure in the coming days, though it is unclear if such a package would include the $24 billion President Joe Biden had originally sought.
The election of a pro-Russian party in neighbouring Slovakia also provided Kyiv with another blow this week as it also continues to quarrel with Poland over grain supplies.
Ukrainian soldiers undergoing training at Bovington Camp, a British Army military base, pose with a Ukrainian flag, February 22
An Ajax Ares Armoured Fighting Vehicle, on the training range at Bovington Camp, a British Army military base, where Ukrainian military undergo training, February 22
Downing Street was forced to reiterate the British government’s commitment to Ukraine following Wallace’s plea.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said the UK’s commitment to Ukraine will not ‘waver’, as Downing Street played down Western splits.
‘Our commitment to Ukraine is steadfast and it’s not going to waver. You will continue to see us provide substantial support,’ the spokesperson said.
Asked about political wrangling over funding for Kyiv in other countries, the official said: ‘Obviously it’s for each country to decide what they think is an appropriate level of support for them.
‘But collectively, I don’t think there has been any backwards step in support for Ukraine. And a substantial period of time into this illegal war I think (Vladimir) Putin is faced with a strong alliance of countries providing growing levels of support for Ukrainian efforts.’
The UK has so far continued to provide military support to Ukriane in the form of both ammunition and military training.
More than 23,500 recruits from Ukraine have received combat training at army bases across the UK since the start of 2022, receiving instruction on skills that include weapons handling and battlefield first aid. Earlier this year, Britain’s government committed to training another 20,000 recruits.
The training is part of a broader package of support for Ukraine that includes a pledge of 2.3 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) of anti-tank weapons, rocket systems and other hardware this year.
Ukrainian servicemen of the Spartan Brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine stand in a shelter at a front line, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, September 13
Grant Shapps arrives at Downing Street as he is asked to serve as Defence Secretary by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, August 31
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, who took over as defense secretary from Wallace, said he also spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in recent days about Britain’s Royal Navy helping to defend commercial vessels in the Black Sea. He did not provide details.
He added that U.K. defense companies should consider setting up production in Ukraine.
‘Particularly in the west of the country, I think the opportunity now is to bring more things in country, and not just training. We’re seeing BAE, for example, move into manufacturing in country,’ he said, referring to the leading British defense and aerospace manufacturer.
‘I’m keen to see other British companies do their bit as well by doing the same thing.’
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