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Keir Starmer Launches UK Defense Review at NATO Summit, Urges Increased Military Spending Amid Global Threats

Keir Starmer, in his first international trip since becoming Prime Minister, has launched a significant review aimed at bolstering UK military spending by tens of billions of pounds. At the NATO summit in Washington marking the alliance’s 75th anniversary, Starmer emphasized the urgent need for NATO countries to increase their defense expenditures amidst rising global threats.

These threats include Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, ongoing instability in the Middle East, and the emergence of authoritarian regimes.

The strategic defense review, slated to commence next week, will span up to a year and is expected to outline a pathway for the UK to achieve its defense spending target of 2.5% of GDP.

This commitment faces mounting pressure, with calls for a clear timetable to reach the specified funding level. Alan West, a former first sea lord, criticized the vague timeline, stressing the need for a definitive plan given the unpredictable nature of geopolitical threats.

Keir Starmer Launches UK Defense Review at NATO Summit, Urges Increased Military Spending Amid Global Threats

Keir Starmer Launches UK Defense Review at NATO Summit, Urges Increased Military Spending Amid Global Threats

During his visit to Washington, Starmer is set to meet with US President Joe Biden to reaffirm the strength of the transatlantic relationship under the new UK government. Central to his agenda is underscoring Britain’s unwavering support for Ukraine amidst escalating Russian hostilities, including recent attacks on civilian infrastructure.

The potential return of Donald Trump and its implications for NATO’s cohesion is also a significant backdrop to the summit. Starmer’s delegation aims to strengthen ties with European leaders, crucial for securing an EU-UK security pact. Talks are expected with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on the sidelines of the summit, continuing discussions initiated during the D-day commemorations.

Financially, the UK currently allocates 2.32% of GDP to defense, equivalent to £64.6bn annually. Achieving the 2.5% target would necessitate an increase to £87.1bn per year. The commitment includes not only bolstering military capabilities but also enhancing procurement efficiency and defense readiness to meet evolving security challenges.

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, previously pledged that the UK would reach the 2.5% defense spending target by the decade’s end. However, Starmer has faced scrutiny during the election campaign for not committing to a specific timeline, citing resource constraints as a determining factor.

In his statement ahead of the summit, Starmer underscored the paramount importance of national security and defense preparedness. He highlighted the strategic defense review’s role in securing Britain’s defenses for the future, in collaboration with global partners committed to upholding peace and democracy against adversaries seeking to destabilize international order.

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