British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Sunday that Britain will invest an additional $6 billion in defense spending. Photo by Simon Walker/No. 10 Downing Street/UPI | License Photo
March 13 (UPI) -- Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Britain will increase defense spending by $6 billion over the next two years to better respond to threats posed by Russia and China.
The announcement was made Sunday ahead of AUKUS security talks between Sunak, U.S. President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in San Diego, Calif., on Monday.
Founded in September 2021, the AUKUS three-country defense partnership aims to arm Australia with nuclear-powered submarine technology in order to preserve the international order in the Indo-Pacific amid growing aggression in the region from China.
On Monday, the three nations are expected to discuss the next phase of the pact, and Sunak said Sunday that the new funds, which follow a nearly $30 billion defense investment in 2020, will go toward replenishing and bolstering ammunition stocks, modernizing Britain's nuclear enterprise and paying for the next step of the AUKUS nuclear program.
Sunak also said he seeks to increase Britain's defense spending to 2.5% gross domestic product and will review the plan again in 2025. Britain will also lead dialogue of future posture and burden sharing at the defensive military alliance NATO Summit this summer.
"As the world becomes more volatile and competition between states becomes more intense the UK must be ready to stand our ground," Sunak said in a statement. "By investing in our armed forces for the long-term, we will be ready for the challenges of today and the future."
"As I will discuss with our American and Australian allies in the U.S. today, the UK will remain a leading contributor to NATO and reliable international partner, standing up for our values from Ukraine to the South China Seas."
The increase in funds was confirmed in the 2023 Integrated Review Refresh, which was commissioned in response to Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine and China's growing competition in Asia but also the world.