Espreso. Global

Fate of Ukrainian nation may be decided in 2024 – UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps

16 January, 2024 Tuesday

This year must mark a global “inflection point”, moving from a post-war to a pre-war world, UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said in his historic speech

The world could face wars involving China, Russia, North Korea and Iran in the next five years, Grant Shapps has warned in his first speech as Defence Secretary of the UK.

Speaking at Lancaster House in London, Shapps outlined a dark picture when Britain finds itself at the dawn of a new era, “moving from a post-war to a pre-war world”, in which “old enemies are reanimated, new foes are taking shape, battle lines are being redrawn. The tanks are literally on Europe’s Ukrainian lawn.”

“The belligerent autocratic state was making a comeback - having got away with the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, Putin launched his brutal invasion of Ukraine eight years later.

And as Russia continues its illegal campaign in Ukraine, China is assessing whether the West loses its patience,” Shapps said.

“Today, Russia and China have been joined by new nuclear, and soon to be nuclear, powers. North Korea promising to expand its own nuclear arsenal. And then there is Iran, whose enriched uranium is up to 83.7%, a level at which there is no civilian application,” he added.

British defence secretary predicted that in 2024 the conflicts across the world are likely to grow. 

“So, 2024 must mark an inflexion point. For Ukraine, this will be a year when the fate of their nation may be decided,”

Mr Shapps underlined the UK government's commitment to helping Ukraine against the Russian invasion, saying Britain had now trained 60,000 Ukrainian troops since the full-scale war began.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a visit to Kyiv on January 12 to announce a further £2.5bn support package for Ukraine.

"Valiant Ukrainian warriors have had incredible success pushing back invading Russian forces, retaking 50 per cent of the territory stolen by Russia, opening up a maritime passage in the Black Sea. But the West must not let them down,"  Mr Shapps pointed out.

"Putin believes the West lacks staying power. And since the future of the world order is at stake, we must prove him wrong. Rewarding his war with victory would only increase the risk of escalation. Not only because he’s hell-bent on rebuilding the Russian Empire. But because it would signal weakness to other would-be aggressors,” the minister explained.

He also commented on the security agreement signed during Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s visit to Kyiv, saying that Ukraine is fighting an “existential battle” now.

“Our new agreement with Ukraine is about so much more than money. It formalises our support in everything from intelligence sharing and cyber security to medical and military training. Britain understands that the battle in Ukraine is existential, it proves there is no such thing as an isolated conflict,”  Mr Shapps said in his speech.

The full transcript of the speech can be read here.

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