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Starmer’s Strategic Ambiguity: UK’s Defence Spending Pledge and NATO’s Call for Higher Contributions Amidst Ukraine Crisis

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Starmer will urge partners to boost defense spending, yet remains unclear on the UK's timeline to meet goals

While the current Labour leader hasn't promised to raise defense funding to 2.5% of GDP like his predecessor by the end of this term, he intends to advocate within NATO for all nations to escalate their contributions in support of Ukraine.

Political correspondent @BethRigby

Tuesday, July 9, 2024, 10:

Sir Keir Starmer is set to assure NATO allies of the UK's unwavering promise to increase its defense budget to 2.5% of GDP, although he is not planning to fulfill this commitment during his initial term in office.

On his way to his inaugural global summit following his overwhelming victory in the recent elections, the newly elected Labour prime minister stated that it is imperative for the UK to "ensure our readiness for defense." He has mandated a comprehensive overhaul of the UK's defense strategy.

Next week, Sir Keir is set to initiate the strategic defence review, prioritizing a 'NATO-first' strategy as the core of the UK's defense agenda.

Stay updated: Biden set to speak at NATO conference

However, the leader of the Labour Party declined to pledge achieving the 2.5% goal within his initial term, merely stating his ambition to reach it "as soon as possible" while calling on fellow allies to increase their expenditures to "protect the future of the Alliance".

He plans to advocate for a new standard during NATO's 75th anniversary summit in Washington, urging all member nations to increase their defense spending target to 2.5% of GDP from the existing goal of 2%.

When questioned about establishing a schedule to achieve the objective, the Prime Minister responded, "Currently, the crucial focus of this NATO summit is to reaffirm our support for Ukraine and to collectively explore actionable strategies to address Russian aggression. That is of utmost importance."

"I am dedicated to maintaining the 2.5% as per our financial guidelines. However, it's crucial to prioritize the strategic review. For now, the focus is on uniting with our partners, deliberating on ways to enhance support for Ukraine, and conveying a strong, unmistakable signal to Putin that we are united in opposing Russian aggression globally."

Stay updated on the most recent developments both in the UK and globally by tuning into Sky News.

Sir Keir's stance differs from that of the former leader Rishi Sunak, who committed in his campaign promises to achieve the 2.5% goal by the conclusion of this parliamentary term.

The strategic review in the UK will shape the country's future military stance, identify necessary capabilities, and outline a plan to allocate 2.5% of its GDP to defense spending.

The authorities announced that the evaluation will assess the challenges the UK confronts, including those from Russia and the Middle East, as well as the emergence of authoritarian governments.

Shortly after taking office, Prime Minister Starmer made one of his initial international phone calls to President Zelenskyy. During the call, the Labour leader reaffirmed the UK's steadfast support for Ukraine.

"The prime secretary is adamant that our safety is intertwined with that of Ukraine," stated his official representative.

The NATO summit, marking its 75th year, coincides with escalating assaults by Russia on Kyiv.

On Monday, Russian missile attacks struck various Ukrainian cities, hitting the nation's biggest pediatric hospital among other structures in a severe offensive. The attack disrupted cardiac surgeries and compelled child cancer patients to receive their therapies outside. Authorities reported that the strikes resulted in at least 41 fatalities.

The meeting could also be dominated by doubts about President Biden's potential re-election, as he faces calls within his own party to not run again.

The President of the United States initiated the conference with a speech on Tuesday. Later in the week, he is slated to participate in a spontaneous press briefing that is anticipated to draw significant attention.

Stay ahead with the latest breaking news updates.

Download the Sky News app at no cost

This week, President Biden sent a forceful letter to uncertain Democrats in Congress, stating that any faltering in determination "only benefits Trump and disadvantages us."

The president appeared on national television to declare, "I'm staying put."

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