the independent view

Can Britain back up its bold defence pledge to Ukraine?

Editorial: Grand promises are one thing, even when passed by the US Senate and announced with due fanfare by a UK prime minister. Delivery, as President Zelensky well knows, can be quite another

Wednesday 24 April 2024 20:04 BST
(Dave Brown)

It has been a thin few months for Western assistance to Ukraine, but there are suddenly two pieces of positive news for Kyiv. After a six-month political stand-off, the US Congress has finally approved a $61bn (£49bn) package for Ukraine, as part of a $95bn foreign aid bill, with the first consignments – according to the Pentagon – starting to arrive within days. The US president Joe Biden said it was “ a good day for America ... a good day for Europe”, and “for world peace”. He pledged it would “make the world safer”.

As the US Senate was preparing to vote, the UK prime minister said that this country’s aid to Ukraine was being increased to £3bn this financial year, to include boats, land vehicles and air defence missiles, as well as £500m in financial help. This was formally announced by Rishi Sunak in Warsaw, where he stood alongside the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk – and the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg – and also stated that the UK would up its defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2030, amounting to an extra £75bn over the next six years.

Together, these new commitments suggest a welcome outbreak of realism on both sides of the Atlantic, a sense of realism given a push perhaps by some desperate-sounding pleas from Volodymyr Zelensky and US intelligence briefings to the effect that without more military help, Ukraine’s chances against Russia were diminishing by the day.

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