Published On: Wed, Jan 24th, 2024

‘No fence-sitting!’ Brussels must ‘step up’ in face of escalating Russia and China threats | World | News


The UK is urging the EU to step up in its efforts against Russian forces in Ukraine, warning any delays to challenges against Vladimir Putin‘s regime could prompt anti-Western actions from China.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps stressed the critical juncture facing global democracies in 2024 in an op-ed for Politico on Wednesday.

With nearly half of the world’s population heading to the polls, including in the EU for the European Parliament elections, Shapps claimed that this year may also determine the fate of Ukraine‘s vibrant democracy, issuing a stern warning to Brussels to “step up” in the face of escalating threats from Russia and China.

Shapps acknowledged the escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia, highlighting Russia‘s preparedness for a prolonged war despite significant domestic costs. He wrote: “We know that Russia’s prepared for a war of attrition no matter how many tens of thousands of its own citizens it loses, and that Moscow’s spending ever more of its resources on the ongoing conflict.”

The Defence Secretary also expressed concern over Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s staggering defence and security spending, set to reach 40 percent of the country’s budget expenditure. Shapps underscored that the Kremlin has intensified its attacks in the early months of 2024, making the situation even more precarious for Ukraine.

Despite the challenges, Shapps commended Ukraine for its remarkable efforts in repelling the invader, reclaiming 50 percent of the territory seized by Russia and establishing a maritime passage in the Black Sea. However, he stressed that Kyiv needs additional support, urging not only the United Kingdom but also other allies to step up their efforts.

He wrote: “There’s no world in which Putin can be allowed to win. Not only would it embolden him, putting our other Eastern European allies in Russia’s crosshairs, but it would also signal to China that everything is up for grabs.

“There can be no wavering. No fence-sitting. No waiting to see which way the wind blows. Putin believes the West can be worn down. He believes we lack strategic patience. And we must prove him wrong.”

The Defence Secretary highlighted the UK’s commitment to aiding Ukraine, citing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak‘s recent meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv. During the visit, Sunak announced a significant increase in the UK’s military support to £2.5 billion, bringing Britain’s total military aid to over £7 billion.

The additional funding includes £200 million for manufacturing and procuring surveillance, long-range strike, and sea drones, positioning the UK as Ukraine‘s largest provider of drones. Shapps stressed the historical significance of the UK-Ukraine Agreement on Security Cooperation, signed during Sunak’s visit, which formalises support across various domains, including intelligence sharing, cyber security, and medical and military training.

“The message couldn’t be clearer: The UK is in this for the long haul,” Shapps concluded.



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