The UK's defense secretary on Monday stressed the need to modernize the country's armed forces ahead of an expected £5 billion ($6 billion) hike in defense spending.
In a keynote speech at the Conservative Home Defense and Security Conference, Ben Wallace said the army's modernization was "very important," as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to announce the budget hike during a trip to the US, which fell short of the expected £8 billion-£11 billion in additional funding the defense secretary requested amid the war in Ukraine and rising inflation.
Some conservative lawmakers are in favor of increasing defense funds as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is trying to balance the budget next week.
British media reported that the proposed increase is said to be £4 billion-£5 billion over the next two years. However, Treasury officials have pointed out that many existing projects are already over budget.
"I think in all of my time, I have been trying to change the culture of where defense should sit in our psyche, where it should sit in our elections," Wallace said, underlining that defense spending should be a priority.
"The world out there is proving to us that if you don't invest in defense, you won't have the tools at your disposal when you want to stand as a one of the P5 (permanent members of UN Security Council) in the world,"
On the Russia-Ukraine war, Wallace said that Russia's reputation had suffered through the progression of the conflict, adding that the British government would continue to support Ukraine "until the end."
"I think it is important to communicate that we are with it for the long haul. I've publicly said we're in it to the end, where we're with Ukraine to the end," he said, expressing hope for "the expulsion of Russia from Ukraine."
Now in its second year, the Russia-Ukraine war has so far killed more than 8,100 civilians, with nearly 13,500 more wounded, according to the latest UN figures.