Starmer warns Putin 'you will not succeed' in Ukraine war

Starmer warns Putin 'you will not succeed' in Ukraine war Starmer warns Putin 'You will not succeed' in Ukraine war

Sir Keir Starmer last night warned Vladimir Putin ‘You will not succeed’ – as he faced questions about defence spending.

The Prime Minister, who flew to Washington last night for a major Nato summit, said there was ‘no more important duty’ than safeguarding the nation.

He announced that the Government will launch a strategic defence review next week to assess the threats to the UK and the military capabilities needed to counter them.

Government sources said the review would include a ‘roadmap’ to raising defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP.

But the decision to scrap Rishi Sunak’s plan to reach the target by 2030 has alarmed experts who warn there is no time for delay. Setting a timetable after the review is likely to delay a decision on increased spending by at least a year.

Sources said the review would reorient the UK to a ‘Nato-first’ stance, reversing the ‘Indo-Pacific tilt’ ordered by the last government.

The move is likely to raise eyebrows given the threat posed to UK interest by China. Yesterday, Chinese troops were reported to be conducting joint military exercises with Russian forces in Ukraine’s neighbour Belarus.

As he prepared to travel to Washington last night, Sir Keir said: ‘There is no more important duty for me as Prime Minister than keeping the people of our country safe.

At a time when we face multiple threats at home and abroad, we must make sure we are ready to defend ourselves. That’s why I have immediately ordered a root-and-branch review that will secure Britain’s defences for the future.

‘Our Strategic Defence Review will make sure the UK is sending a clear message to those who seek to undermine peace and democracy – you will not succeed.’

This week’s Nato summit marks the 75th anniversary of the alliance which faces the greatest threat level since the Cold War.

The event is Sir Keir’s debut on the world stage since his landslide election victory last week.

He is expected to hold talks with a string of world leaders in the next 48 hours, including a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and face-to-face discussions with Joe Biden today.

Sir Keir will be accompanied by his wife Victoria, who is expected to join him for a leaders’ dinner hosted by President Biden at the White House tonight. The couple are expected to move in to No 10 from their north London home after they return on Friday.

Foreign Secretary David Lammy, Defence Secretary John Healey and Europe Minister Nick Thomas-Symonds will also attend the summit and meet counterparts.

The summit is focused on bolstering support for Ukraine. But President Biden and others are expected to press member states in Europe to increase defence spending to deter the Russian threat.

The UK is one of the few Nato countries to consistently meet the bloc’s ‘minimum’ target of two per cent of GDP on defence. Mr Sunak had planned to use the event to press for the threshold to be raised to 2.5 per cent in recognition of the enhanced threat.

The UK currently spends £64.6billion on defence, equal to 2.32 per cent of GDP. Mr Sunak set out plans to raise it each year to reach £87.1billion by 2030, equivalent to 2.5 per cent of forecast GDP. Labour has so far set out only an aspiration to reach the spending target at an unspecified date.

In a letter to Mr Healey last night, Tory defence spokesman James Cartlidge urged Labour to match the 2030 timetable immediately. Mr Cartlidge told Labour it was ‘high time you made clear to the country what your plans are for defence spending’.

Downing Street said the PM would push other countries to raise defence spending this week, despite delaying his own decision on the issue. The PM’s official spokesman said the 2.5 per cent spending target would be hit as soon as possible ‘within our fiscal rules’.

But military experts say there is no time for delay. General Sir Patrick Sanders, former head of the Army, told the Times that the UK’s forces were so depleted they were capable of fighting only a small war – and even then for no more than a month.

President Putin was embraced by India’s prime minister Narendra Modi who has arrived in Moscow for talks – just hours after Russia’s air strike on a children’s cancer hospital In Kyiv.

Putin called Modi ‘my dearest friend’. The invasion of Ukraine has been financed in part by Indian purchases of Russian oil products, which have increased almost 20-fold since 2021.

Modi said Russia was ‘an ally that has been with us through good times and bad, as a trusted friend’.

President Zelensky said on social media: ‘It is a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world’s largest democracy hug the world’s most bloody criminal on such a day.’

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