LONDON – The British government has given Ukraine over £100 million, or $132 million, worth of weapons and other equipment to help Ukrainian forces fend off Russia’s increasingly bloody invasion, according to documents published by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on March 23.
That support has come in the form of anti-tank weapons, for example, which London has sent to war-stricken Ukraine by the “thousands,” according to the government’s so-called Spring Statement economic forecast. In addition, London is “enabling up to £3.5 billion ($4.6 billion) of export finance to support Ukraine, including on defense capability,” the documents, published by the Treasury, said.
The last official figure provided by the British Ministry of Defence for the supply of Thales UK-built light anti-tank weapons stands at 3,615, though Defence Sectary Ben Wallace appeared to tell two Russian hoax callers last week that over 4,000 missiles had been supplied and that Britain was running out of its own weapons
Wallace announced last week that Britain was looking at stepping up its weapons supply effort to Ukraine by sending short-range StarStreak surface to air missile of the British Army, also made by Thales UK.
A small number of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon anti-tank missiles are also scheduled to be dispatched, according to Wallace.
Later on March 23, the British announced a new arms delivery including anti-tank weapons and high-explosive weapons, numbering 6,000 pieces in total. “This more than doubles the defensive lethal aid provided to date to more than 10,000 missiles, and comes on top of the £400 million the UK has committed in humanitarian and economic aid for the crisis,” a government statement reads.
There were hopes the Spring Statement, also known here as the “mini-budget,” might be a vehicle for an announcement on a defense spending increase here driven by the rising threat of Russia.
But Sunak barely made mention of defense and confined his statement to tax and other domestic issues.
The chancellor has been under increasing pressure from lawmakers to increase defense spending, but a statement released as part of the Spring Settlement 2022 appeared to signal Sunak thought he had already given enough to defense for the moment, following a major boost in 2020.
“The 2021 Integrated Review identified Russia as the most acute threat to the U.K.’s security. Reflecting this, the MoD received the largest sustained spending increase since the Cold War, with a £24 billion ($38 billion) cash uplift over four years. This settlement ensures the U.K. continues to exceed NATO’s 2% of GDP funding guideline and remain one of the leading defense spenders in NATO,” said the Spring Statement documents.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include a new British support shipment to Ukraine, announced on March 23.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.