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MoD accused of ‘go-slow’ with half of £900m Ukraine fund unused | Defence policy

MoD accused of ‘go-slow’ with half of £900m Ukraine fund unused | Defence policy

More than half of a £900m military fund for Ukraine run by the British Ministry of Defence has not been used because of bureaucratic delays in handing out contracts.

The UK-led International Fund for Ukraine counts nine countries among its donors. Critics claim its provision of weapons to the frontline has been slow.

Of the £900m donated by governments over the last two years, of which £500m came from the UK, just £404m has been committed or spent.

Some of the equipment covered in the contracts signed will not reach Ukraine until spring next year, ministers have admitted.

The delays are said by MoD officials to have been caused by a need to assess each of the huge number of defence companies that have tendered for contracts.

John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, accused the MoD of being on a “go-slow”.

He said: “The UK is united in support of Ukraine and against Russian aggression. As Russia steps up its attacks in Ukraine, its allies must accelerate military support.

“Instead, the UK government is on a go-slow in getting crucial new kit into the hands of Ukrainians. Speeding it up would have our Labour backing, as on Britain’s military help to Ukraine and on reinforcing Nato allies, the government has had – and will continue to have – our fullest Labour support.”

He added: “There may be a change in government to Labour this year but there will be no change in Britain’s resolve to stand with Ukraine, confront Russian aggression and pursue [Vladimir] Putin for his war crimes.”

The International Fund for Ukraine was set up in August 2022 to finance military training and equipment for Ukraine after Russia’s invasion in February of that year.

It was designed to be “a flexible low-bureaucracy fund” administered by the MoD on behalf of an executive panel comprising the UK, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Lithuania.

Money has been committed by Denmark (£133m), Iceland (£3m), Lithuania (£5m), the Netherlands (£110m), Norway (£119m), Sweden (£26m), Australia (£26m) and New Zealand (£4m).

The defence secretary, Grant Shapps, has been active in seeking to sign up more countries but the fund’s record in distributing the cash risks deterring would-be donors.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has been outspoken in recent weeks about the impact on the frontline of a slowdown in the provision of western weapons. Russia has steadily been making advances, and a lack of Ukrainian air defence has been pinpointed as a major problem for Kyiv.

A call for bids for an “air defence and maritime capabilities” round of contracts was made in January. Equipment provided so far includes more than 100 uncrewed aerial systems and 80 heavy-duty plant vehicles to destroy Russian non-explosive obstacles and help build defensive positions and air defence radars.

An MoD spokesperson said: “The UK-led International Fund for Ukraine is the largest fund of its kind and is delivering weapons on a regular basis to meet Ukraine’s most pressing needs – including air defence capabilities, drones and mine clearance equipment – with more than £900m pledged so far by nine countries.

“Thousands of responses have been received from industry to International Fund for Ukraine requirements, each of which have had to be individually reviewed. We make no excuses for having made sure this was done properly and in a way that most effectively helps Ukraine.”


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