Daily Mail

Sunak’s armada to defend Britain

PM unveils £4bn deal for five new warships... as he lambasts Russia on global stage

- From David Churchill at the G20 summit in Bali

RISHI Sunak last night unveiled a multi-billion-pound deal for five new warships to boost Britain’s defences as he branded Russia a ‘pariah state’.

The Prime Minister announced that five Type 26 frigates will be built ahead of a showdown with Russia at today’s G20 summit in Indonesia.

More than £4billion will be spent on the advanced warships, which are mainly used for anti- submarine warfare, and will boost the fleet from the current three being built.

The contract, which was awarded to British firm BAE Systems, will sustain 4,000 UK jobs with constructi­on of all eight frigates expected to be completed by the mid-2030s.

It came as Mr Sunak vowed to use the opening day of the G20 summit to attack Russia and president Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine. Putin, who has failed to attend the summit in Bali, has instead sent his foreign affairs minister Sergei Lavrov.

However, there was confusion yesterday about whether Lavrov would attend following reports he had been admitted to hospital with a heart condition. His aides later insisted the

‘Protecting ourselves and our allies’

reports were false, posting a video of Lavrov in shorts and a T-shirt reading documents.

Announcing the warships deal last night, Mr Sunak said: ‘Russia’s actions put all of us at risk. As we give the Ukrainian people the support they need, we are also harnessing the breadth and depth of UK expertise to protect ourselves and our allies. This includes building the next generation of British warships.

‘Putin and his proxies will never have a legitimate seat at the table until they end their illegal war in Ukraine.

‘At the G20, the Putin regime – which has stifled domestic dissent and fabricated a veneer of validity only through violence – will hear the chorus of global opposition to its actions.’

Asked if he would shake the hand of Lavrov or give him the cold shoulder at the two-day summit, Mr Sunak said: ‘I’m going to take the opportunit­y to unequivoca­lly condemn the Russian state and Putin for their abhorrent and illegal war and that’s what I plan to do.

‘It’s telling that Putin is not there. Russia is becoming a pariah state and he’s not there to take responsibi­lity for what he’s doing.

But I’m going to use the opportunit­y to put on the record my condemnati­on of what they’re doing.’

Mr Sunak added that he was open to Ukraine-Russia peace talks but only in the future once the situation has stabilised.

It comes following reports that the US has been privately encouragin­g Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to signal he is open to negotiatin­g with Russia.

Commenting on the reports, Mr Sunak said: ‘Well that’s a question for the Ukrainians. They will decide their approach to negotiatio­ns. Of course they want to see, as does everybody, a peaceful resolution to this settlement. But I view our job... as putting Ukraine in the strongest possible position for an eventual negotiatio­n.’

He added: ‘It’s a bit unfair to say to the Ukrainians, “look, you should be negotiatin­g”, when your country and your civilian infrastruc­ture is being relentless­ly bombed – as it is currently.

‘So our job is to continue to help the Ukrainians defend themselves, and put themselves in the strongest possible position at a time of their choosing, to bring a negotiated settlement.’

Mr Sunak will meet with US President Joe Biden for the first time tomorrow, where they will pledge to continue working ‘hand in glove’ in response to the war.

The two leaders will also try to persuade member countries less supportive of Ukraine to rally behind their position, piling more pressure on Putin to withdraw.

He also held a one-to-one meeting with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau yesterday, where he expressed his desire to join the CPTPP trade pact. The pact, which is made up of 11 countries including Japan and Australia, could ensure 99.9 per cent of British exports to member nations are eligible for tariff-free trade. In response, Mr Trudeau said he wanted to ‘get you guys’.

Mr Sunak will also meet with Indian PM Narendra Modi for talks on a UK-India trade deal.

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