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Britain will stand with Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes’, declares new Defence Secretary in direct warning to Putin

PUTIN must be in no doubt “Britain under Labour” will still be “Ukraine’s firmest friend”, the new Defence Secretary has declared.

John Healey embraced hero President Volodymyr Zelensky in war torn Odessa yesterday as he vowed all additional military aid promised in April will be delivered within 100 days of Labour taking power “guaranteed”.

EPA
New Defence Secretary John Healey on a visit to Ukraine[/caption]
Reuters
Healey with Ukraine’s Defence Minister Rustem Umerov[/caption]
AS1 Leah Jones
The Sun’s Political Editor Harry Cole grilled Healey on an RAF jet[/caption]
Harry met Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Harry looks on as Healey speaks with Umerov

He insisted the new government is “totally committed” to hiking UK defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP but the “defence of Britain starts in Ukraine.”

Mr Healey hotfooted it to the Black Sea port straight from Sir Keir Starmer’s first Cabinet meeting as a clear signal to the Kremlin that far from backsliding, UK support would be “stepped up and sped up”.

He told The Sun: “At every stage since Putin launched his full scale invasion, we have backed all the military aid… the extra funding had our full backing in opposition, we will now deliver it in government.”

And in a direct message to the Russian tyrant, he warned: “Putin is looking for Western nations to lose patience to lose resolve, he must know that Britain under Labour will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes to win.

“We will confront Russian aggression and we will pursue him for his war crimes.”

During his first official visit to Ukraine, that came within 48 hours of his appointment, Mr Healey said it was time to “step up” the “special leadership” Britain has already shown since Putin invaded Ukraine in 2022.

Britain has pledged up to £3 billion in assistance to Ukraine this year including desperately needed missiles, ammunition and vehicles.

He said his “first action” when he arrived at the Ministry of Defence on Friday “was to ask ‘what more can I do to help, how can we speed up what we have already announced?’”

He warned: “The Ukrainians have made a general complaint, that too often what has been promised by the West they have still not got.

“They can’t say that about the UK and I am determined that they won’t.”

And he pledged; “So the package of support, the extra military aid that Sunak announced in April, that will now come with a 100 day guarantee under Labour.

“What was announced in April will be delivered by the end of 100 days of Labour government.”

He added he had “directed the MoD to speed up the delivery of what was promised” by the previous government.

And he insisted it could be done, saying; “I am not going to make promises that we don’t keep, and that will be a hallmark of what will start to see under a Labour government.”

He told The Sun: “At the first Cabinet meeting, Keir said ‘we know trust in government must be regained. We will will do what we say and at the heart of this Labour government must be delivery.

“And politicians can make promises, but they demonstrate in the end, to people who must have confidence in their government, they demonstrate by what they do.

“So if delivery is at the heart of this government, within less than 24 hours after I was appointed I am on my way to Ukraine.

“And I am doing that because we have been, and we are proud of being, united behind Ukraine.”

“We made that promise, just as we have throughout, we will continue our steadfast support for Ukraine,” he added.

“We are proud of the UK leadership on Ukraine and I’ve said I want to be proud of UK leadership in six months time.

“So I will play my part in what Keir Starmer gave as our marching orders – to put delivery at the heart of everything we do.”

He said his visit would be “strong message on Ukraine, a strong message on defence and a strong message on a Keir Starmer government.”

And he instead there was more to come, saying: “First of all we speed up delivery of what we have already announced.

“Secondly we will step up further and see what kit we can offer the Ukrainians.

“So I have the MoD begin scouring stockpiles, especially for the kit that the Ukrainians are using every day in this fight.”

STANDING FIRM

Mr Healey says his message to President Zelensky was “we will deliver you an extra quarter of a million heavy ammunition for the machine guns they use to shoot down Iranian drones.”

“We will give you an extra 90 Brimstone missiles, the most lethal bit of kit they use to take out Russian tanks and armoured vehicles

“Will give you 50 boats for Ukrainian marines, these are the marines we have trained, so they will use those for attacks in the Black Sea, they will use those for raids across the Dnipro river.”

“We will also give 40 new mine clearing rollers so the massive mine fields that Putin has laid down can be cleared said Ukraine patrols can cross.

“We’ve already given Ukraine a lot of AS90 heavy artillery guns, we can find another ten.

“More importantly we are going to provide them with the replacement barrels they need so that they can keep firing.”

And he said ahead of NATO’s 75th birthday celebrations in Washington DC next week it was time to increase work with our allies.

“The importance of this is we will do our bit with barrels, while the Americans provide the shells,” he added.

“We don’t need to do everything, we need to do what the Ukrainians most need from us.”

“For the first time for many years, we will also start producing barrels for these heavy guns in the UK.”

He added: “My being on a plane now, by demanding that action to speed up delivery, putting together a package of extra military aid to help Ukraine maintain the fight, demonstrates at the heart of our defence commitment is a recognition that the defence of Britain starts in Ukraine.

“Part of the special leadership that the UK has demonstrated since Putin invaded has been the ability to bring other allies together, to do more and give more.

“And you will see next week at the NATO summit, you will see the 32 nations to also step up support for Ukraine and importantly make the same sort of long term commitment to maintain support for Ukraine.”

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