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Sunak to pledge record miliary aid package for Ukraine on Poland-Germany trip

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is heading to Warsaw and Berlin (Lucy North/PA)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is heading to Warsaw and Berlin (Lucy North/PA)

Rishi Sunak will pledge a record package of military aid for Ukraine as he travels to Warsaw and Berlin to meet the leaders of Poland, Germany and Nato.

Warning that Russian President Vladimir Putin “will not stop at the Polish border” if his assault on Ukraine is not thwarted, the Prime Minister will announce £500 million in extra military funding and the UK’s largest-ever donation of key equipment.

The first stop of his European capitals tour on Tuesday will be to Ukraine-neighbouring Poland, where he is set to discuss security co-operation and support for Kyiv in meetings with new Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Mr Sunak will then travel to Germany to hold one-on-one talks with Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister said: “Defending Ukraine against Russia’s brutal ambitions is vital for our security and for all of Europe. If Putin is allowed to succeed in this war of aggression, he will not stop at the Polish border.

“I am in Warsaw today (Tuesday) to deepen ties with our Polish partners and commit critical new military support for Ukraine’s defence. Ukraine’s armed forces continue to fight bravely, but they need our support – and they need it now. Today’s package will help ensure Ukraine has what they need to take the fight to Russia.

“The United Kingdom will always play its part at the forefront of European security, defending our national interest and standing by our Nato allies.”

The £500 million will be used to send Ukraine ammunition, air defence and UK-procured drones, as well as supporting engineering and the ramping up of domestic defence supply chains, Downing Street said.

It is new money from the Treasury reserve and not from existing Ministry of Defence budgets, according to No 10.

The uplift takes UK military funding for Kyiv to £3 billion in 2024/25, and to £7.6 billion since the start of Mr Putin’s full-scale invasion in 2022.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with President Volodymyr Zelensky during a visit to Kyiv in January (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The promised equipment includes around 400 vehicles, more than 1,600 strike and air defence missiles, 60 boats and nearly 4 million rounds of small arms ammunition.

The weaponry will be delivered “as quickly as possible” in response to “specific asks from the Ukrainian government and armed forces,” at a time when Kyiv “faces a difficult summer as Russia continues to ramp up his barbaric assault,” Mr Sunak’s official spokesman said.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This record package of military aid will give President (Volodymyr) Zelensky and his brave nation more of the kit they need to kick Putin out and restore peace and stability in Europe.

“The UK was the first to provide NLAW missiles, the first to give modern tanks and the first to send long-range missiles.

“Now, we are going even further. We will never let the world forget the existential battle Ukraine is fighting, and with our enduring support, they will win.”

Sunak and Scholz
Rishi Sunak met German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the European Political Community summit in Spain in October (Thomas Coex/PA)

It comes after the US House of Representatives on the weekend approved a critical 61 billion-dollar (£49 million) aid package for Ukraine, following a months-long stalemate over renewed American support for the war-torn nation.

Mr Sunak will use his visit to “deepen the relationship with key European partners Germany and Poland,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman said, adding: “He sees our bilateral security and economic relationship with both Warsaw and Berlin as vital for UK security and prosperity and looks forward to taking that partnership forward.”

The trip to the German capital will be his first since entering No 10, and comes as he has faced pressure to visit senior politicians from one of the UK’s most powerful European allies.

The UK and Germany are closely aligned on matters including support for Ukraine and are the two biggest suppliers of military aid to the country after the US, but have so far opted to cooperate through Nato and G7 forums instead of through strengthening bilateral ties.

Mr Sunak’s spokesman stressed that the Prime Minister has regular calls with Mr Scholz and that they have met at various international fora, including at last year’s Munich Security Conference.

In his first in-person meeting with his Polish counterpart Mr Tusk, the Prime Minister will seek to strengthen security, trade and diplomatic links with Warsaw.

He will offer to deploy an RAF Typhoon squadron next year to carry out Nato air policing over Poland, where around 400 British troops are stationed full-time.

Mr Sunak will also set out his goal to triple UK export finance funding available for Poland from £5 billion to £15 billion – the UK’s most generous offer to a partner country to date.

Labour’s shadow defence secretary John Healey said: “The UK is united in support of Ukraine and against Russian aggression. Labour strongly welcomes this further funding and military aid to Ukraine.

“This UK military support is vital to helping Ukraine gain an upper hand against Putin’s brutal and illegal invasion.

“There may be a change in Government to Labour this year, but there will be no change in Britain’s resolve to stand with Ukraine, confront Russian aggression and pursue Putin for his war crimes.”