UK Puts Its Defense Industry on ‘War Footing’ as It Gives Ukraine $620 Million in New Military Aid

 British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk meet at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister in Warsaw, Poland, April, 23, 2024. (Reuters)
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk meet at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister in Warsaw, Poland, April, 23, 2024. (Reuters)
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UK Puts Its Defense Industry on ‘War Footing’ as It Gives Ukraine $620 Million in New Military Aid

 British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk meet at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister in Warsaw, Poland, April, 23, 2024. (Reuters)
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk meet at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister in Warsaw, Poland, April, 23, 2024. (Reuters)

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced Tuesday that the country is putting its defense industry on a “war footing” by increasing defense spending to 2.5% of GDP by the end of the decade, amid NATO concerns of possible repercussions of Russia's war in Ukraine.

Sunak made the announcement to increase spending to well above the 2% target set by NATO during a visit to the Polish capital, Warsaw. It came on the heels of a new pledge to send arms worth 500 million pounds ($620 million) to Ukraine, including missiles, armored vehicles and ammunition.

He described the increased spending as the “biggest strengthening of our national defense for a generation."

“In a world that is the most dangerous it has been since the end of the Cold War, we cannot be complacent," he said at a news briefing alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “As our adversaries align, we must do more to defend our country, our interests and our values."

Sunak promised an extra 75 billion pounds ($93 billion) in defense spending over the next six years. The target of 2.5% of GDP spending was a re-commitment of a target set by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2022.

Sunak and his Treasury chief, Jeremy Hunt, had previously only said the 2.5% goal would be met when the economic conditions allow.

“We will put the UK’s own defense industry on a war footing,” Sunak said to an audience of British troops serving on NATO's eastern front. “One of the central lessons of the war in Ukraine is that we need deeper stockpiles of munitions, and for industry to be able to replenish them more quickly.”

Under the new spending plan, Britain’s defense budget will increase immediately and then rise steadily to reach 87 billion pounds at the end the decade.

A decade ago, NATO leaders agreed to commit 2% of GDP to defense spending. Britain has spent above that over the past decade but never higher than 2.35% in 2020, according to NATO data.

UK official figures showed that defense spending last year was about 55.5 billion pounds. NATO data showed that this amounted to about 2.07% of the UK’s GDP, ahead of countries including France and Germany but behind Poland, the U.S., Estonia and others.

Sunak spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to confirm the assistance and "assure him of the UK’s steadfast support for Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s brutal and expansionist ambitions,” Sunak's office said.

UK authorities said the new commitment to Ukraine included 400 vehicles, 60 boats, 1,600 munitions and 4 million rounds of ammunition, at a time when Ukraine is struggling to hold off advancing Russian forces on the eastern front line of the war, now in its third year.

The shipment will include British Storm Shadow long-range missiles, which have a range of some 150 miles (240 kilometers) and have proved effective at hitting Russian targets.

Sunak said that Britain's commitment “shows that Ukraine is not alone, and Ukraine will never be alone.”

However, Downing Street did not indicate whether the aid would be immediately available for delivery. Zelenskyy has pleaded for greater international assistance, warning that his country will lose the war without it.

The announcement came three days after the US House of Representatives approved $61 billion in aid for Ukraine, as American lawmakers raced to deliver a fresh round of US support to the war-torn ally. The Senate was expected to vote on the package Tuesday.

Ammunition shortages over the past six months have led Ukrainian military commanders to ration shells, a disadvantage that Russia has seized on this year — taking the city of Avdiivka and currently inching towards the town of Chasiv Yar, also in the eastern Donetsk region.



Taiwan Says China Drills More about Intimidation, Propaganda than Starting War

A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan in China’s southeast Fujian province on Sunday. (AFP)
A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan in China’s southeast Fujian province on Sunday. (AFP)
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Taiwan Says China Drills More about Intimidation, Propaganda than Starting War

A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan in China’s southeast Fujian province on Sunday. (AFP)
A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan in China’s southeast Fujian province on Sunday. (AFP)

China's military drills last week were more about propaganda and intimidation than starting a war, but Chinese forces did show how they could react quickly, Taiwan's top security official said on Wednesday.
China said it carried out the two days of war games starting Thursday as "punishment" for new President Lai Ching-te's inauguration speech last week, in which he said the two sides of the Taiwan Strait were "not subordinate to each other", which China viewed as a declaration the two are separate countries, Reuters said.
China views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Lai rejects China's sovereignty claims, saying only Taiwan's people can decide their future, and has repeatedly offered talks with Beijing but been rebuffed.
Speaking to reporters at parliament, Taiwan National Security Bureau Director-General Tsai Ming-yen said the aim of China's drills was not to go to war.
"The purpose of the military exercises was to intimidate," he said.
The drills were meant to show an external and domestic audience that Beijing "has absolute control over the situation in the Taiwan Strait", Tsai added.
Speaking in Beijing, Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, reiterated its list of complaints about Lai being a dangerous supporter of Taiwan's formal independence, and threatened continued Chinese military activity.
The drills were a "just action to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity", she said.
"As Taiwan's provocations for independence continue, the People's Liberation Army's actions to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity continue."
The government in Taipei says Taiwan is already an independent country, the Republic of China. The Republican government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with Mao Zedong's Communists who set up the People's Republic of China.
China says any decisions on Taiwan's future are for all of China's 1.4 billion people to make, not only Taiwan's 23 million, and has offered a Hong Kong-style "one country, two systems" autonomy model, though that has almost no public support on the island, according to opinion polls.
"Different systems are not an obstacle to reunification, let alone an excuse for separation," Zhu said.
China has never explained how it would integrate Taiwan's vibrant democracy and direct election of its leaders into any plan to govern the island.
China has in the past four years sent its military to areas around Taiwan on an almost daily basis, as it seeks to exert pressure on the island.
But China also appeared to be trying to keep the scope of these drills contained, Tsai's bureau said in a written report to lawmakers, noting there was no declaration of no-fly or no-sail zones and the exercises lasted only two days.
"The intention was to avoid the situation escalating and international intervention, but in the future it is feared (China) will continue its compound coercion against us, gradually changing the Taiwan Strait's status quo," it said.
Tsai added that Chinese forces mobilized almost as soon as China announced the drills early on Thursday.
"The speed was extremely fast, demonstrating rapid mobilization capabilities," he said.