Sunak sets out new ‘support package’ in Kiev trip

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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visited Kiev on Jan. 12 to launch “a major new package of support” for Ukraine and increase military funding for this financial year to 2.5 billion pounds ($3.2 billion).

The figure is an increase of 200 million pounds over the last two years and will ensure the “largest ever commitment of drones,” a statement by Sunak’s office said, adding that he also signed a “historic” security cooperation pact with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The “totemic agreement” should be the first step towards an “unshakeable hundred-year partnership,” said Sunak’s Downing Street office.

The extra funding will be targeted at areas including long-range missiles, air defense, artillery ammunition and maritime security, it added.

At least 200 million pounds will be spent on “a major push to rapidly procure and produce thousands of military drones for Ukraine, including surveillance, long-range strike and sea drones.”

“For two years, Ukraine has fought with great courage to repel a brutal Russian invasion,” Sunak said ahead of the visit.

“They are still fighting, unfaltering in their determination to defend their country and defend the principles of freedom and democracy.”

“I am here today with one message: the U.K. will also not falter. We will stand with Ukraine, in their darkest hours and in the better times to come,” he added.

The latest commitment takes the U.K.’s support for Ukraine’s war efforts to almost 12 billion pounds, with Storm Shadow cruise missiles and a squadron of Challenger 2 tanks among the equipment supplied to Kiev.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron in November vowed to maintain military support for Ukraine during a surprise visit to Kiev.

The visit by former prime minister Cameron came as Zelensky said the flow of vital artillery ammunition from Western allies had dropped since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas in October.

“We will continue to give you the moral support, diplomatic support, the economic support, but above all, the military support, that you need not just this year, and next year, but for however long it takes,” Cameron said during a meeting with Zelensky.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Defense Department has not fully complied with monitoring requirements for about $1 billion in military aid provided to Ukraine, the Pentagon inspector general’s office said on Jan. 11.

The finding is likely to provide fodder for Republican politicians who oppose additional aid for Kiev, but the Pentagon said there is no evidence that military assistance provided to Kiev has been illicitly diverted.

“As of June 2, 2023, serial number inventories for more than $1.005 billion [59 percent] of the total $1.699 billion of EEUM-designated defense articles were delinquent,” the inspector general’s office said in a statement, referring to enhanced end-use monitoring.

The shortfall can be explained by factors including the “limited number of U.S. personnel at logistics hubs in a partner nation and in Ukraine,” and restrictions on the movement of monitoring personnel in the country, the statement said.

When a serial number inventory is conducted, officials view the item and write down or scan its barcode, then update that information in a database, according to an official from the inspector general’s office.

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