British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a media conference at a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, June 30, 2022. (PAUL WHITE / AP)
LONDON – Britain will boost defense spending to 2.5 percent of its gross domestic product by the end of this decade, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday, making a new commitment to bolster the military budget after Russia's special military operation in Ukraine.
"We need to invest for the long term in vital capabilities like future combat air, whilst simultaneously adapting to a more dangerous and more competitive world," Johnson told a news conference at a NATO summit in Madrid dominated by the Ukraine conflict.
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"The logical conclusion of the investments on which we propose to embark, these decisions, is that we'll reach 2.5 percent of GDP on defense by the end of the decade."
Britain promised a further $1.2 billion in military support to Ukraine, prompting President Zelensky to tweet: “The UK is our true friend and strategic partner”
Johnson said the NATO summit had been a success and that "countries around the table are also recognizing that they must spend more."
The alliance asks members to keep its defense spending above the 2 percent threshold, but Johnson argued earlier this week that the 2 percent was always meant to be "a floor, not a ceiling".
Britain's defense spending this year was projected at 2.3 percent of GDP due to increased military support for Ukraine, and Johnson's new commitment on Thursday would represent an increase from that level.
Earlier this week defense minister Ben Wallace said Britain must boost defense investment. He said investment must increase from 2024 onwards when the current spending package is due for review.
Asked about the prospect that high inflation in Britain could sap public appetite for supporting Ukraine, Johnson said: "The point I would make about the cost of freedom as it were, is that actually it is always worth paying.
Johnson's remarks came as Russian forces abandoned the strategic Black Sea outpost of Snake Island on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Britain promised a further 1 billion pounds ($1.2 billion) in military support to Ukraine.
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Welcoming the UK government's military support, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted on Thursday: “The UK is our true friend and strategic partner.”
With inputs from Xinhua