Rishi Sunak calls on NATO allies to up defence spending and deter Putin

Sunak greets Biden as he arrives on Downing Street

Rishi Sunak will on Tuesday urge every Nato ally to spend more on defence to stop “those who seek to do us harm”.

The Prime Minister will insist that nations should invest more to deter Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin from attacking European countries.

He will declare that spending two percent of GDP on defence must be the “floor not the ceiling”.

Mr Sunak will explain at the Nato summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday that this is “crucial” to defend “against the kind of tactics Putin has used in Ukraine”.

Only nine of the 31 Nato allies spent two percent of GDP on defence last year, with this expected to rise to 20 over the next year as many Governments finally wake up to the threat posed by the Kremlin.

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But Mr Sunak will call on European governments to go further and bolster their ground forces, navies and air forces, as well as their space capabilities, so they can fight in “every domain”.

The PM said on Monday night: “When thousands of Russian troops crossed [Ukraine’s] border in February last year, it marked a grim new chapter in Europe and Nato’s history.

“In the 500 days that have elapsed since, we have witnessed the most terrible crimes and human tragedies in Ukraine.

“But we have also seen the Nato alliance come together like never before in support of Ukraine and with firm determination that Russia cannot succeed.

“That is work we need to continue this week. We cannot let the fog of war obscure the clear lessons our alliance must learn if we are going to outpace and outmanoeuvre those who seek to do us harm.

“That is why the UK is investing record amounts in defence, to make our Armed Forces more lethal and more deployable, and to ready our defence industry for the challenges ahead. And that’s something we need to see across Nato, starting with meeting the two percent commitment.”

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The PM’s spokesman added: “He will call for all allies to immediately meet the ambition they set almost two decades ago – to spend two percent of their GDP on defence. Our reinforced alliance can then further harden its deterrence and defence, building on the decisions we have made in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion to accelerate Nato’s military transformation. The UK will lead these efforts, just as we have throughout the history of the alliance.”

Britain, the US, Poland, Greece, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Romania, Hungary, Latvia and Slovakia are the only countries spending two percent of GDP on defence this year. This means some of Europe’s biggest countries, including France and Germany, are failing to invest enough in their Armed Forces despite a war raging in Europe.

Canada, Slovenia, Turkey, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg are all spending under 1.4 percent of GDP, it was said.

British officials on Monday night warned Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has exposed weaknesses in some Nato allies’ production of weapons and ammunition.

They warned that while allies have provided millions of rounds to Ukrainian troops, it has “risked leaving our own forces short”.

Mr Sunak will on Tuesday confirm an eight-fold increase in the UK’s ammunition production capacity. UK weapons manufacturers will be able to supply more 155mm artillery ammunition – used by most Nato militaries – to allies.

The PM also wants allies to agree to more joint projects to produce weapons and ammunition.

Ahead of the summit on Tuesday, diplomats were locked in talks over Sweden’s bid to join Nato. Only Turkey is refusing to support Stockholm’s bid to join the alliance. Leaders will also discuss Ukraine’s future membership of Nato.

But they are not going to set out a timeline for the war-torn nation while the conflict with Russia rages on.

Some allies are concerned such a move could effectively draw the alliance into a war with Russia.

US President Joe Biden said: “I don’t think there is unanimity in Nato about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the Nato family now, at this moment, in the middle of a war.

“If the war is going on, then we’re all at war. We’re at war with Russia, if that were the case.

“I think we have to lay out a rational path for Ukraine to be able to qualify to be able to get into Nato.”

Ukrainian leaders believe that Nato must set out a clear pathway for the nation to join the alliance. Government spokeswoman Olga Stefanishyna said: “We want all 31 Nato leaders to confirm that Ukraineis invited to join.”

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