Truss sends warning to Putin and backs Britain to lead fight against Russia's 'aggression'

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The Foreign Secretary, frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest, said: “We need to make sure that Britain has the deterrents it needs to lead the global efforts to tackle aggression from the likes of Russia and other authoritarian regimes.”

With little time left in the race to No10 — and as Russia’s war on Ukraine hit the six-month mark — Ms Truss and rival Rishi Sunak have this week both addressed a pressing concern among the British public: security.

Ms Truss has already pledged to boost defence spending to three percent of GDP by 2030 – a promise Mr Sunak refused to match because he says he does not believe in “arbitrary targets” in this context.

One of the steps Ms Truss said she would take is pushing ahead with a “full renewal” of Trident, Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

The update to the Government’s Integrated Review will provide strengthened support for intelligence services and serve as “the ultimate guarantee of our sovereignty”, her campaign said.

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The Tory contender warned: “We thought that peace and stability were inevitable – but they aren’t.

“The era of complacency is over.

“We are living in an increasingly dangerous world and our security is under more threat than it has been in decades.”

Ms Truss added she would also update the Integrated Review of defence and foreign policy, published in March last year, to “reflect the evolving geopolitical landscape and increased malevolent activity that we have seen since it was first published in 2021”.

The previous review, by outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson, highlighted the growing threat posed by China, symbolised by the first deployment of the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier strike group to the region.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, defence experts have called for the Government to consider returning to the Cold War approach of maintaining a large British Army presence in Germany or even Poland.

In line with such demands, the Foreign Secretary has now stressed the UK must rise to a “generation-defining moment for freedom, security and liberty”.

She continued: “We simply cannot allow aggressors to think they will go unchallenged.”

Mr Sunak has said he views the NATO defence spending target of two percent of GDP as a “floor and not a ceiling” and noted spending is set to rise to 2.5 percent “over time”.

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Speaking at the penultimate leadership hustings in Norwich on Thursday, he said: “If Liz is here, as she probably said in her speech, she will invest 3 percent of GDP.

“Now, I’m not going to say that, not because I don’t believe in investing in our armed forces, of course I do, and my record demonstrates that.

“It’s just I don’t believe in arbitrary targets when it comes to something as serious as the security of our realm.”

Discussion on defence come amid no hopeful signs from Moscow, with the Russian army set to expand its troops by hundreds of thousands of men.

Following the signing of a decree by Vladimir Putin on Thursday, the Kremlin is planning to grow its military with the addition of 137,000 soldiers next year.

The expansion, which will begin on January 1, means all Russian men aged 18-27 must serve one year in the military.

However, a large share of the Russian male population avoids the draft for health reasons or deferments granted to university students.

The share of men who avoid the draft is particularly big in Moscow and other major cities.

Meanwhile, according to the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD), the new decree is “unlikely to make substantive progress towards increasing Russia’s combat power in Ukraine”.

This, the ministry explained, is due to the high number of troops that Moscow has already lost.



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