Russian threat means UK army needs more cash, says Ben Wallaceon June 28, 2022 at 9:41 am

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Ben Wallace says there should be further increases in military spending to keep people safe.

A Ukrainian service member holding a next generation light anti-tank weapon (NLAW) near the front lineImage source, Reuters

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is urging the prime minister to increase spending on the UK’s armed forces in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He already successfully pushed for higher spending in 2020, but will say in a speech later that the threat has now changed.

The UK currently spends around 2% of its GDP on defence, matching the target Nato sets for its members.

But Mr Wallace has reportedly asked the PM to increase that to 2.5% by 2028.

He will tell a conference organised by the Royal United Services Institute think tank that, in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, governments must be prepared to invest more to keep people safe.

Defence sources have told the BBC’s defence correspondent Jonathan Beale that Mr Wallace wants an increase in the defence budget by the middle of this decade.

In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the defence secretary also urged the PM to call on other Nato leaders to raise the spend per country to 2.5% of national income, Talk TV reports.

In response to questions about the letter’s contents, a defence source told the PA Media news agency that the Ministry of Defence does not comment on leaks.

“The defence secretary and the prime minister have always said that the government will respond to any changes in threat which is why in 2020 the Ministry of Defence received a record defence settlement,” the source said.

The worsening security situation for the UK will also be highlighted by the new head of the armed forces in his first major speech.

General Sir Patrick Sanders will say he has never known such a clear threat “as the brutal aggression of President Putin”.

He is set to liken the war in Ukraine to the build up to World War Two, describing the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a “1937 moment” for the UK.

British troops need to be ready to face Russia in the battlefield, a recent internal message from the general addressed to all ranks and civil servants said.

The invasion showed the need “to protect the UK and be ready to fight and win wars on land”, he said.

The government said it was spending £1.3bn ($1.6bn) on military support for Ukraine, including sending long-range rocket systems.

Anti-tank weapons, short-range missiles, armoured vehicles, drones and air defence systems have also been donated to Ukraine.

UK weapons supplied to Ukraine

The speeches on Tuesday come ahead of a summit of Nato leaders in Madrid, which is also expected to address allies readiness and spending on defence.

The defensive alliance’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg has already made clear he wants a target of members spending 2% of their annual national income on defence to be a base line, rather than a ceiling.

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