Britain will increase defense spending amid Russia’s war against Ukraine and other global crises. Nearly 5 billion pounds (5.65 billion euros) will be allocated additionally for military needs over the next two years, including 3 billion for nuclear deterrence forces and the AUKUS military bloc with the US and Australia, the government in London said Monday, March 13.
About 1.9 billion pounds will be used to replenish the arsenal of ammunition, severely reduced because of military aid to Ukraine. Britain is one of Kyiv’s main arms suppliers. “As the world becomes less stable and rivalry between nations increases, Britain must be prepared to stand up for itself,” said U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who headed to Washington for talks with U.S. President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Sunak said the additional allocation would increase the country’s defense spending from the current 2 percent to 2.25 percent of GDP by 2025. The target is 2.5 percent. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace advocated defense spending at three percent of GDP. Critics say Britain’s armed forces are in a deplorable state.
China and Russia are the main threats
The defense spending increases as part of the updated version of the British defense strategy 2023 (IR23). This document identifies countering threats from China and Russia as Britain's primary defense objective. “IR23 was commissioned to respond to emerging geopolitical threats, from Russia’s actions against Ukraine to China’s economic coercion and increased competition between states,” the British government said in a press release.
As stated in the press release, the first priority is to deal with the main risk to European security, which, according to London, “is posed by Russia.”