In a shocking revelation, which follows the resignation of UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, a senior military officer said that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s administration has run out of defence equipment to donate to Ukraine and other countries, The Telegraph reported.
The senior military chief asked for other European countries to step in and shoulder more of the UK’s burden of fulfiling its commitment to support Ukraine against Russian onslaught.
Earlier, the resigned defence secretary before leaving his office had asked Sunak to spend £2.3 billion more on support for Ukraine, the newspaper shared.
Wallace had warned that Germany had overtaken the UK “as the biggest European military donor to Ukraine”, calling for a 50 per cent increase on funding that the UK has committed so far.
According to The Telegraph, the Western alliance had suffered a series of blows in recent days, with support for Ukraine dropped from a US stop-gap budget bill, election success for a pro-Russian party in Slovakia and rows between Poland and Kyiv over grain supplies.
On Monday, the Russian government claimed that Western fatigue with the war “will grow”. The White House replied that “Vladimir Putin is wrong to think he could outlast the pro-Kyiv alliance”.
Meanwhile, the Telegraph was informed by one of the source in the military that the UK had lost its interest in providing extra support to the war-torn Ukraine. The source said that onus should not be on the UK to provide the “billions” Mr Wallace [former defence secretary] has called for.
“Giving billions more doesn’t mean giving billions of British kit,” the source said in disdain, adding that the UK had a role to play in “encouraging other nations to give more money and weapons”.
“We’ve given away just about as much as we can afford,” the source asserted.
“We will continue to source equipment to provide for Ukraine, but what they need now is things like air defence assets and artillery ammunition and we’ve run dry on all that.”
On Monday, PM Sunak was forced to insist that the UK’s commitment to Ukraine would not “waver” in the light of Wallace’s comments.
“You will continue to see us provide substantial support,” his official spokesman told reporters.
The apparent lackluster pledges of support by the British government to Kyiv, has given the impression that political rows in the West are a sign that support for Ukraine was beginning to crack. However, this perception was strongly rebutted by incumbent Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, saying that Vladimir Putin would be “foolish” to believe the perception of cracks widening in the Western ranks.
He suggested the possibility of Donald Trump winning the next US election would not necessarily result in the “worst-case scenario” of America cutting its support.
It is pertinent to mention that the UK has already committed 14 Challenger 2 tanks, M270 multiple-launch rocket systems, a heavy-lift drone and Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion.
Thousands of anti-tank weapons, short-range missiles and armoured vehicles have also been given by the UK to Ukraine, the report added.
The current military chief of UK also delivered his two cents, saying there was no prospect of providing more British tanks to Ukraine. “We’ve given away pretty much everything we can afford to give,” he added. “Every tank we give away is one less that we have,” he lamented.
The growing concerns over Western funding for Ukraine threatened to overshadow what was described as a “historic meeting” of EU foreign ministers in Kyiv.
Meanwhile, Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, told the Western bloc that his country’s victory over ‘Kremlin occupiers’ “explicitly depends on our co-operation” after the US Congress passed an emergency spending bill that will cut off aid for Ukraine from next month, unless further agreements are approved on Capitol Hill.
The EU’s top foreign diplomat, Josep Borrell, insisted that the bloc’s support for Kyiv would be steadfast amid the upheaval in Washington.
“We are facing an existential threat. Ukrainians are fighting with all their courage and capabilities, and if we want them to succeed we must give them better weapons, and faster,” he told reporters in Kyiv before the gathering.
“I am hopeful that this decision is not final and that the US will continue to support Ukraine,” Borrell added.
Brussels last month overtook the US in promised aid to Kyiv, with European commitments now twice as large, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German think tank that has been tracking funding for Ukraine.