The UK will provide an extra £1.3 billion in military support to Ukraine, in a dramatic escalation of assistance for Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces as they fight the Russian invasion.
The new funding comes on top of the UK’s existing £1.5bn support to Kyiv, which included around £400m in humanitarian aid and grants to the Ukrainian government, and unlocking over £700m in additional World Bank lending through loan guarantees.
It is the highest rate of UK military spending on a conflict since the height of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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 £1.3bn 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.”The extra funding has been drawn from the UK’s reserves – funds the government has set aside for the most pressing emergencies – and includes £300 million of military kit announced by Boris Johnson earlier this week.
The electronic warfare equipment includes a counter-battery radar system, GPS jamming equipment and thousands of night vision devices.
The Boris Johnson and other G7 leaders will meet with Mr Zelensky virtually on Sunday to discuss further support on offer, as well further sanctions on Russia.
The prime minister and defense secretary will also host a meeting of leading defense companies later this month to discuss increasing production in response to increased demand created by the conflict in Ukraine and a global shift away from Russian-made weaponry.
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 recognize the scale of the threat and send arms to help the Ukrainians defend themselves. We will stand by that endeavor, 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 defense equipment here in the UK.”
In the US, Mr 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.
The White House views the meeting as a way of displaying western unity on the eve of Moscow’s traditional May 9 victory day parade.
There has been speculation that the Russian president had hoped to use the symbolically important date to highlight his success in Ukraine, but the fierce resistance put up by Kyiv’s forces has scuppered any such claim.
The UK Ministry of Defense said Russia’s ability to fight with modern equipment was being damaged by losses in Ukraine and the impact of sanctions.
The MoD said at least one of Russia’s most advanced T-90M tanks had been destroyed in fighting, while sanctions were restricting access to microelectronic components for sophisticated equipment.