Defence Secretary asks for £10bn a year for forces amid Russia threat

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace calls on No. 10 for £10bn a year more for the Armed Forces amid Russia threat

  • In a letter to PM, Mr Wallace highlighted shortfalls in UK’s defence capabilities
  • Including too few drones, stealth jet pilots and nuclear sub crew members
  • He will say UK’s defence budget should rise from 2% of GDP to 2.5 % by 2028
  • It comes as Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded for the firepower to end Russia’s war

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has demanded £10 billion a year in extra military spending to meet the threat posed by Russia.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Wallace also highlighted alarming shortfalls in Britain’s defence capabilities such as a lack of drones, not enough pilots to fly multi-billion-pound stealth jets and a paucity of crew members aboard Royal Navy nuclear submarines.

In a landmark speech today, he will insist the UK’s annual defence budget should rise from 2 per cent of GDP to 2.5 per cent by 2028.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with world leaders yesterday to give him the firepower to end Russia’s war on Ukraine before winter

In a landmark speech today, Ben Wallace (pictured) will insist the UK’s annual defence budget should rise from 2 per cent of GDP to 2.5 per cent by 2028

The British Army’s most senior soldier will also address the Land Warfare conference to insist the UK’s armed forces must be ready to fight Russia on the battlefields of Europe. General Sir Patrick Sanders will say the threat to peace, as posed by Vladimir Putin, is unprecedented in his career.

In a copy of his speech, released last night the Chief of the General Staff is set to say: ‘This is our 1937 moment. We are not at war – but must act rapidly so that we are not drawn into one through a failure to contain territorial expansion.’

Last week he wrote to all the troops under his command telling them they must prepare ‘to fight in Europe once again’.

It will be the second time in recent months Mr Wallace has called for an increase in defence spending. In March he wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak warning UK defence spending was at risk of dropping below the Nato minimum spend of 2 per cent, unless the Treasury provided further funds.

The Daily Mail understands if he is granted the additional budget, Mr Wallace would target specific capability gaps rather than upping the size of the Army – which is expected to shrink to just 72,500 by 2025.

A source said: ‘The Defence Secretary is expected to emphasise that now that the threat has changed, governments must be prepared to invest to keep us safe.’

It came as Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with world leaders yesterday to give him the firepower to end Russia’s war on Ukraine before winter. The Ukrainian President fears freezing temperatures in the country’s eastern regions later this year will favour the Russian invaders and limit his troops’ ability to defend their lands.

In an impassioned address to the G7 summit, he asked for long-range weapons and air defence systems to be supplied before then. Speaking on a live-link to the Bavarian resort where the leaders are gathered, Mr Zelensky also asked for tougher sanctions on Moscow to thwart the Kremlin’s war machine.

He also requested further Western assistance to breach Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports which is preventing the export of the country’s grain stocks. ‘If Ukraine wins, you all win,’ he said during his speech by video link.

It came as Nato announced a seven-fold increase in numbers of troops on high readiness, from 40,000 to more than 300,000, as the defence alliance gathers for its own summit today. Soldiers would respond to any Russian incursion into Nato territory but would not enter Ukraine. National troops would be put on different alert levels so the alliance has more combat-ready forces ready on short notice.

The Daily Mail understands if he is granted the additional budget, Mr Wallace would target specific capability gaps rather than upping the size of the Army. Pictured: Ben Wallace meets Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak at Ministry of Defence in Warsaw, Poland, in March 17, 2022

Last night it was claimed that as part of the Nato pledge, Boris Johnson could announce a significant reinforcement for Estonia, potentially more than doubling the number of British troops available to the Baltic State.

Urging the Western allies to increase their support for the war effort, Mr Zelensky pleaded yesterday: ‘Don’t let it drag on over winter’ and urged them ‘not to lower the pressure’ in terms of sanctions.

In a joint statement, the G7 leaders promised to support Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes’. Ukrainian military chiefs want to mount a counter-offensive against the Russians this summer and autumn but lack the necessary firepower.

Mr Zelensky is also desperate to address the vulnerability of his country’s major cities to Russian missile attacks and yesterday received a boost from Washington with Joe Biden pledging the same air defence system which protects the White House and the Pentagon.

More than 20 UK-purchased M109 howitzers are expected to reach the front line in days while the US pledged to provide the NASAMS system, which can destroy incoming missiles and aircraft at a range of up to 86 nautical miles. Military sources said it could be used to protect Kyiv and other cities.

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