The Daily Telegraph
Europe’s military powers should step up
Liz Truss is in New York on her first overseas foray since taking office earlier this month for the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. The Prime Minister will take the opportunity for bilateral meetings with President Biden and other world leaders but has already laid down a marker on the most pressing foreign policy matter: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
She will tell the UN today that in 2023 Britain will match or exceed the £2.3billion it committed this year to Kyiv’s war effort. The pledge comes amid growing expectations of further advances by Ukrainian forces against a demoralised and seriously degraded Russian army.
Leading Western strategists believe what looked fanciful in February might now be possible, namely a defeat for Russia and the recapture of all the territory it has taken, though whether that would include Crimea, annexed in 2014, is another matter. Gen Sir Richard Shirreff, former Nato deputy supreme commander, told the BBC yesterday that the West now had to help Ukraine drive home its advantage with more money and weapons, even at the cost of forfeiting Russian energy supplies.
To that end, Ms Truss’s promise will be welcome in Kyiv but it needs to be matched by other Nato countries. The US is the biggest contributor to the Ukraine war effort, announcing last week a further $675million (£590million) arms shipment, as well as a broader $2.2billion military financing package. Britain is the second largest donor to Ukraine and has trained 27,000 members of the Ukrainian armed forces since 2015. No10 said the UK has provided hundreds of rockets, five air defence systems, 120 armoured vehicles and other equipment, including tens of thousands more rounds of ammunition.
But other big European countries, notably France, Germany and Italy, are not pulling their weight. President Macron seems to want to act as an “honest broker” in any negotiated settlement without appreciating that such a prospect is disappearing with every recaptured town. German politics remains riven by the reluctance of Berlin to commit fully to the defence of Ukraine. Italy has a general election on Sunday which is expected to result in a governing coalition involving two parties once close to Russia, though the likely new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, is an implacable opponent of Vladimir Putin.
It is time Europe’s big three stepped up their support for Ukraine.