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UK Starmer urges NATO unity for Ukraine, pledges military aid

WASHINGTON – British Prime Minister Keir Starmer will tell NATO leaders on Thursday that they must send Russian President Vladimir Putin a clear signal of unity in their support for Ukraine, after promising to deliver a renewed £3 billion military aid package to Kiev.

At his first international meeting since his landslide election victory, Starmer received a warm welcome from NATO leaders, some of whom can only be jealous of his large majority at home and the stability this should bring to his new government.

Days after taking office, Starmer reaffirmed the former Conservative government’s pledge to provide £3 billion ($3.9 billion) in military aid to Ukraine annually until 2030-2031 and beyond if necessary, underlining the continuity of Britain’s role as one of Kiev’s most active and vocal backers.

“NATO was founded by the generation that defeated fascism. They understood not only the value of our strength, but also the power of our values,” he will say, according to excerpts from his speech.

“Those values ​​are under attack again. Putin needs to hear a clear message coming from this summit – a message of unity and determination, that we will support Ukraine at whatever cost, for as long as it takes to uphold our shared values ​​and our shared security.”

Hours after Starmer’s Labour Party won the election, ousting the Conservatives from power, he deployed his newly appointed ministers to demonstrate Britain’s continued support for Ukraine.

His Foreign Secretary, David Lammy, toured Germany, Poland and Sweden over the weekend to underline the shared support for Ukraine. Defence Secretary John Healey travelled to Kiev to tell President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that the Labour government would make an “ironclad” commitment to support Ukraine.

Healey said the new administration would accelerate the military aid promised by its predecessor in April and pledge new deliveries of munitions, rockets, boats and artillery.

Starmer’s arrival at Nato is an early chance to chart his course and promises to replace the chaos of the Conservative years with stability.

On Tuesday, he said his government wanted to increase Britain’s defence spending to 2.5% of GDP. However, he was again cautious about announcing a timetable, stressing that the increase must not come at the expense of budgetary discipline.

He said he would launch a defence review next week that would look at a possible roadmap to achieve that goal, but also “the challenges we face, the capabilities and how we can make sure the two fit together”.

He told reporters on the plane to Washington that defense and security are the administration’s top priority.

“And that is why we are doing the strategic review. It goes beyond the money issue,” he said.

His Defence Secretary Luke Pollard told Sky News on Wednesday that the investigation would be completed within the next year. REUTERS

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