LONDON — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to provide the Ukraine with £2.5 billion ($3.2 billion) in military funding this year during a visit to Kyiv, with the supply of long-range attack drones being a top priority.

A statement issued by the British government as Sunak arrived by train in the Ukrainian capital on Jan. 12 said the commitment would include funding for drones, artillery ammunition, long-range missiles, air defense and maritime security.

The pledge is set to take British spending on military assistance to Ukraine to over £7 billion since Russia invaded its neighbor in February 2022.

Sunak’s promise for 2024 represents a £200 million increase on the £2.3 billion sent in each of the previous two years and maintains Britain’s position as the second-largest provider of military aid in Europe, behind Germany.

The latest announcement comes at a time of increasing concern in Ukraine over future funding plans by the U.S. and some European nations.

Sunak, though, said there would be no backsliding on defense aid by the British.

“I am here with one message: the UK will not falter. We will stand with Ukraine, in their darkest hours and in the better times to come,” he said. “The UK is already one of Ukraine’s closest partners, because we recognize their security is our security.”

The British said a substantial portion of the funding for the financial year starting in April will go towards boosting the supply of various types of drones.

“At least £200 million 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,” said the British government statement.

Officials said the planned drone deliveries will be the largest yet undertaken by any nation supporting Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion in 2022.

Most of the drones are expected to be built in the U.K., although the statement also said the MoD is working with international partners to significantly scale up the number of drones supplied to the Ukraine military.

No details are so far available on the types of drones being funded by the British in this latest package of weapon commitments.

London is also expected to strengthen its ties with the Ukrainian government with the signing of a broad security cooperation agreement during Sunak’s visit – his second since becoming prime minister last year.

The agreement formalizes support the British have been providing to boost Ukraine’s security, including intelligence sharing, cyber security, medical and military training, and defense industrial cooperation.

The NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, last year saw G7 nations agree to provide Ukraine with bilateral security assurances, with the U.K. being the first country to deliver a final agreement.

Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.

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