11:23 07 Feb 2023

UK opposition calls to hasten arms deliveries to Ukraine

Photo: EPA

The opposition Labour party will seek to put defense procurement on an "urgent operational footing" if it wins the next British election.

The Guardian reports that the party pledges to help buy new weapons for Ukraine and replenish stocks depleted by previous military aid packages.

The opposition party believes that it has taken too long for the Ministry of Defense to purchase new ammunition, citing the nearly year-long wait for a contract to replace over 4,000 NLAW anti-tank bazookas sent to Kyiv before and during the initial stages of the war.

In a speech on Tuesday, John Healy, the shadow defense secretary, will argue that British defense procurement is wasteful, needing urgent revision to support Ukraine in its war with russia.

"We need to shift parts of our defense industry and MoD [Ministry of Defense] procurement onto an urgent operational footing, both to support Ukraine for the long-term and to replenish UK stocks for any future conflict," the Labour senior politician will say to an audience at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

Labour's call for retooling the UK's defense industry is part of the party's broader effort to emphasize its responsibility for national security. They want to distance themselves from the period when the party was led by Jeremy Corbyn, who often criticized western militarism.

"The next government will inherit the Ukraine conflict and russia's wider aggression. With a general election, there may be a change to Labour, but there will be no change to Britain's resolve in confronting russia's threats, pursuing putin's crimes, and standing with Ukraine," Healy is to say.

The shadow minister's statements might suggest the government under Labour will increase defense spending.

Healey will say planned reductions in the army should be stopped, adding that the UK should also aim to become "NATO's leading European nation," ensuring that it can meet existing commitments to protect allies from russian aggression.

The British Army is to be gradually reduced to 72,500 by 2025. This is the lowest figure since 1714. The army downsizing comes as part of a "real-term cuts" program in day-to-day spending introduced by the Conservatives with the 2021 Integrated Review of Defense and Foreign Policy.

Defense sources warned last week that Britain's military was losing its military edge. They reported that it would only have enough ammunition for a few days if it were called to participate in the conflict. They also emphasized that about 30% of the forces promised by NATO in case of an emergency are reservists and, therefore, will not be available immediately.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley said that providing Ukraine with all the necessary means to win the war with russia was the only way to peace.

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