UK Treasury Reportedly Admits 'No More Money' for Defense as Army Runs Out of Ammo
06:02 GMT 06.02.2023 (Updated: 15:25 GMT 28.05.2023)
Late last month, a senior US general reportedly told UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace that the British Army is no longer considered a top-level fighting force.
The UK Treasury has no more money for the country’s defense even though it admits there is an urgent need to rearm in the wake of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine
, a British media outlet reported, citing unnamed defense sources.
They also revealed that the UK would not offer as many troops as NATO allies want for the alliance’s major new force aimed at strengthening its defenses.
The insiders argued that Downing Street had already been urged to increase the defense budget by at least £3Bln ($3.6 billion) a year and stop a plan to shrink the size of the UK Army even further.
The sources added that they know “at the moment the Treasury and the chancellor [Jeremy Hunt] are playing hard ball.”
“They recognize the threats. They recognize the pressure defense is under from inflation, the nuclear deterrent, stockpiles and Ukraine. But despite recognizing the threats and the pressure, they say there is no more money,” according to the insiders.
Regarding NATO’s new force model, they asserted that the alliance is expected to assemble a taskforce of about 300,000 servicemen. The new force will be on a much higher state of readiness than previously as NATO attempts to reshape its capabilities “to defend itself and deter threats" in the wake of Russia’s special operation in Ukraine.
The sources claimed that UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will only "credibly" be able to send a brigade of 5,000 to 10,000 soldiers backed by weapons, armored vehicles and helicopters rather than a division of up to 30,000 soldiers or more.
“Other nations will be offering divisions or corps. They can say that with confidence because they have now made the investment. For the UK, not only have we not made those investments - and there is no sign the Chancellor will - but we are actually cutting the Army,” one source said.
The Defense Ministry's plans stipulate reducing the Army to 73,000 full-time troops from 82,000.
The claims come after a UK newspaper reported last week that the British Army had no more heavy guns left after having given them all to Ukraine. According to the newspaper, all of the UK’s 30 serviceable AS-90 self-propelled artillery guns have been sent to Kiev.
“The decision to give them away has stripped two Royal Artillery regiments, based on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, of all their working weapons. If gunners don’t have guns we can’t fight, we can’t train,” an unnamed defense source told the newspaper.
This was preceded by a UK media outlet citing a high-ranking US general as privately telling UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace that the British Army
is no longer regarded as a top-level fighting force. "You haven't got a tier one. It's barely tier two,” the general said.
The remarks came after the British government announced plans last month of providing Kiev with 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks (MBTs), along with ammunition, training and logistical support. Shortly after, Germany and the US followed suit by showing their readiness to deliver their MBTs - Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams, respectively - to Ukraine.
After Russia launched its special operation in Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the US and its allies ramped up their military aid to Kiev, supplying billion of dollars' worth of weapons. Moscow has repeatedly warned that such assistance will only prolong the Ukrainian conflict.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that NATO countries are “playing with fire" by supplying weapons to Kiev, and that any convoy of arms for Ukraine will become a legitimate target for Russian forces. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently stressed that those countries which try to wage an undeclared war against Russia will receive a tough response to their actions. "We do not send tanks to their borders," he said, adding that Russia still has other means to retaliate.