UK's new PM vows to supply more weapons to Ukraine

Britain's new Prime Minister Elizabeth Truss (photo via Reuters)

British Prime Minister Liz Truss has promised billions of dollars more in financial and military aid to Kiev, as she vowed to rally Western support at the UN General Assembly over Ukraine.

The new prime minister said on Tuesday that her government would meet next year to confirm aid that would exceed the 2.3 billion pound ($2.63 billion) in military aid spent on Ukraine in 2022.

The UK's military support for Kiev is likely to include equipment such as the Multiple Launch Rocket System, her office said in a statement.

"My message to the people of Ukraine is this: the UK will continue to be right behind you every step of the way. Your security is our security," she said.

Truss made the remarks as she started her debut foreign trip to New York to attend the UN General Assembly.

Ahead of her first meeting with US President Joe Biden, Truss also conceded that a post-Brexit UK-US trade deal was unlikely for years.

"There aren't currently any negotiations taking place with the US and I don't have an expectation that those are going to start in the short to medium term," she told reporters en route to New York.

The British PM is due back in London on Thursday, a day before Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng delivers an emergency budget statement after the government vowed a costly scheme to cap rocketing energy bills.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan denied that the financial crisis could force a re-think of the UK's aid to Ukraine.

"We are not re-evaluating our support in the Ukraine, we are doubling down on our support in the Ukraine," she told Sky News.

Britain's commitment of $2.63bn to Kiev in 2022 resulted in the UK becoming the second-largest military donor to Ukraine, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday. British military aid, it said, has involved the provision of hundreds of rockets, 120 armored vehicles, and five air defense systems, and the training of some 27,000 Ukrainian troops since 2015.

The FT report also said the "largest commercial road move of ammunition since the second world war was carried out last week" and involved "tens of thousands" of artillery rounds donated by the UK that were sent to front-line Ukrainian forces.

Truss also accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of "using Russia's grip on European energy supplies to economically blackmail the people of Europe."

"By turning off the taps of Nord Stream gas pipeline, Putin has consigned millions of people in Europe to a colder and more difficult winter," Truss said, referring to the closure of the main gas pipeline to Europe.

Truss said that "too many lives in Ukraine, Europe, and around the world are being manipulated by a dependence on Russian energy. We need to work together to end this once and for all."

European countries have been experiencing a worsening energy crisis. Germany, along with other European Union countries, is scrambling to support homes and industries burdened by a further surge in energy prices.

On February 24, Putin declared a military campaign in Ukraine to "de-Nazify" the country. Ever since, the United States and its NATO allies have been imposing sanctions on Moscow and supplying heavy weaponry to Kiev.

Russia, in response, halted supplies through the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline to Europe.

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