The British Conservative government is increasing military spending for NATO’s proxy war against Russia.
Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed Ukraine’s parliament via video link, pledging to send an additional £300million worth of military hardware. Within days, that amount was increased by a further £1 billion to £1.3 billion.
This followed the previous week’s announcement that, in one of the largest deployments since the Cold War, it would, from May, send 8,000 army troops across Europe to take part in a multitude of military exercises.
The new funding brings the UK’s financial commitment to almost £3 billion. It comes on top of existing £1.5billion support for Kyiv, which included at least £200million worth of military equipment, around £400million in aid and grants to the Ukrainian government and unlocking over £700m of additional World Bank lending through loans. guarantees.
Announce funding in a Mail on Sunday article, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “We are steadfast in our support for the people of Ukraine – and this extra £1.3billion will allow us to continue to provide the necessary military and operational support they need to defend themselves. against Putin.
Speaking on behalf of one of the major powers that enabled the 30-year NATO encirclement of Russia that sparked the war, he added cynically: “We are working tirelessly to end this conflict.” .
With millions pushed into poverty after more than a decade of austerity and a cost of living crisis fueled by the pandemic and war in Ukraine, Sunak offered no respite. The priority was militarism and the defeat of Russia. Sunak boasted: “This new funding means that the scale of our support for our Ukrainian friends is now second only to that of the United States. It also means that the rate of our spending on military conflict is now as high as it was in 2009, at the height of Iraq and Afghanistan, when we had 43,000 troops actively deployed in combat.
Over a million people were killed in these wars, along with hundreds of British servicemen. According to the Ministry of Defence, in 2015 these illegal adventures had cost more than £21billion, paid for by crushing austerity measures, cuts to health and education budgets and the gutting of services public.
British arms firms are licking their lips in anticipation of war profits. Sunak said: “The funding will also help to significantly boost the UK’s advanced defense industry, creating high quality jobs across the country. He continued: “The Prime Minister and the Secretary of Defense will host a meeting of arms manufacturers this month to discuss increasing production in response to the increased demand created by the conflict.”
The vast increase in war spending follows concerted lobbying by MPs.
This week the Time revealed that Defense Secretary Ben Wallace had demanded that Sunak increase the military budget in his March “spring statement”. He reported: “Wallace told Sunak earlier this year that inflation and the expense of sending arms to Ukraine meant Britain was at risk of not meeting its NATO spending commitments. by 2025, according to a leaked letter. Sunak did not treat Wallace’s letter as a formal request for additional defense spending.
This prompted Tobias Ellwood, chairman of Parliament’s Defense Select Committee and one of Johnson’s chief Tory critics, to chime in on the pages of the newspaper. Last Friday, just days after Johnson announced the extra £300 million in war spending in Ukraine and before Sunak announced the extra £1 billion, Ellwood told the Time“It wouldn’t take a note from the Ministry of Defense to understand just how badly European security is deteriorating…Massive cuts to our troop numbers as well as our tanks, combat vehicles, ships and planes are to be reversed if we want to play any serious role in strengthening NATO’s eastern flank.
Ellwood, along with Wallace and other senior Conservatives closely linked to the military’s top brass, have demanded that Johnson increase defense spending to 3% of GDP from the current 2%.
Wallace and Elwood’s interventions were a thinly disguised offer for Johnson’s job, should he be forced to step down before the Conservative Party conference in October. Another leadership candidate, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, said the 2% target should be a “floor, not a ceiling”.
These concerns are shared by the entire ruling elite. A FinancialTimes The reporting team asked in March: “Should the UK change its defense strategy after the war in Ukraine?” They noted, “The Army is set to lose its entire fleet of over 700 Warrior infantry fighting vehicles ahead of schedule and a third of its Challenger II main battle tanks. Operationally, Britain’s land forces are now the smallest since the 18th century, with just 72,500 regular troops.
the Time reported, “Johnson reportedly repeatedly spoke to Wallace about the letter and argued that now was not the right time to increase defense spending.” He pointed to the fact that the Ministry of Defense had received a significant settlement during the spending review five months earlier.
Sunak has already paid £24billion over four years in extra military spending, the biggest increase by any government since the end of the Cold War. Johnson has also pledged to build four new submarines to carry UK nuclear weapons at a cost of £31billion.
When Sunak announced his spring declaration of no new military spending, it was amid speculation he had £10billion in military spending reserves. The WSWS noted: “With the corporate media and retired senior military officials demanding a rapidly expanded military force, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that conservatives are bracing for a seismic surge in money. spent on preparations for war in Europe with Russia in the immediate future This assessment has been confirmed.
Those in government circles who insist that militarism and war must come first find their main allies in the Labor Party. Advancing as the ‘NATO Party’, Sir Keir Starmer’s MPs allied with the Conservatives to form a single war party. Last week, Labour’s shadow defense secretary John Healey told the I news website, “When [Labour MP] David Lammy and I were in Kyiv, before the Russian invasion, we could tell there is united British support and solidarity for you in the face of this mounting Russian aggression.
Healey, wrote the I, “calls for a rapid rewrite of [the governments’ defence and foreign policies known collectively as the Integrated Review (IR) that was published only last year.” The IR was now getting in the way of Russia’s defeat said Healey, “It was meant to be threat-led but made no mention of the Taliban taking over in Afghanistan or of the Russian threat to Ukraine. It largely overlooked Europe. And it got carried away with itself, with Boris Johnson trumpeting this tilt to the Indo-Pacific.”
“It’s fine to send a new aircraft carrier on a gap-year tour of the Pacific. But its real job has got to be in the Atlantic and in the Med. It’s marginal to any balance of power in the Indo Pacific, in the Atlantic, in the Arctic, as far as the northern European security is concerned it’s pivotal,” Healey stated.
He boasted of Tony Blair’s Labour government, “We delivered the largest sustained increase in defence spending for two decades after the Twin Towers. [The Ukraine invasion] demands that kind of response from the government. If they are ready to do so, they will have our support.
the I commented: ‘Labour is also writing to the government what amounts to a blank check on political support for new defense spending if the review it wants to complete by July identifies the need.’