Sunak sparks fears of UK withdrawal of Ukraine military aid

Ukraine: Ammunition depot explosion rocks Kadiivka

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Rishi Sunak has sparked fears that the UK government may be wavering in its commitment to supply Ukraine with military aid. It comes as experts warn that the war has entered a critical phase and the ability of each side to rearm will prove crucial to the ultimate outcome. The Government has until now been steadfast in its support for Ukraine.

The UK is the second largest donor to Kyiv’s war effort, trailing only the US in its willingness to supply weapons.

The Government has committed £2.3billion in military assistance to Ukraine so far and has made a pledge to match that assistance in 2023.

Britain is also hosting a training programme, supported by a number of allies, with the aim of training 10,000 new and existing Ukrainian personnel every 120 days.

However, that commitment to support Kyiv’s war effort against Putin’s Russia could be about to change.

BBC’s Nicholas Watt has learned that the British Prime Minister has asked for an assessment of the progress of the war in Ukraine.

A Whitehall source likened the exercise to a “Goldman Sachs dashboard” examination of the war and how UK military supplies are used.

Mr Sunak began his career in finance by working as an analyst for the investment bank.

The request has caused consternation in some corners of Whitehall, as the war enters winter and potentially a decisive phase.

The source told Newsnight: “Wars aren’t won by dashboards. Wars are won on instinct.

“At the start of this, it was Boris sitting down and saying: ‘Let’s just go for this.’

“So Rishi needs to channel his inner Boris on foreign policy though not of course on anything else.”

The data-driven assessment is intended to evaluate the progress of the war and the significance of the UK’s military contributions to Ukraine.

A Downing Street official stressed that Mr Sunak is strongly supportive of Ukraine and denied that the PM is being overly cautious in his approach to the issue.

The PM visited Kyiv in November, where he met Ukraine’s President Zelensky.

Mr Sunak pledged a further £50 million in defence aid, which is intended to counter Russian air attacks.

The aid package will deliver 125 anti-aircraft guns and technology to help Ukraine defend itself against deadly Iranian-supplied drones.

Dozens of radars and anti-drone electronic warfare equipment will also be included in the package.

Mr Sunak told the Ukraine President it was “deeply humbling” to be in Kyiv and insisted the UK would continue to support Ukraine.

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Later he tweeted: “Britain knows what it means to fight for freedom. We are with you all the way.”

Ukraine’s head of the armed forces made yet another appeal for more weapons, as he seeks to deliver a decisive blow against Putin’s stalling forces.

Ukraine is largely dependent on Western and NATO military aid to help it arm its forces.

General Valery Zaluzhny told the Economist: “I know that I can beat this enemy.

But I need resources. I need 300 tanks, 600-700 infantry fighting vehicles, 500 Howitzers.”

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