London to raise defense spending to Cold War levels

LONDON (AP) – Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has endorsed what is billed as the largest investment program in the nation’s armed forces since the end of the Cold War three decades ago.

Johnson is scheduled to present the details of a four-year financial plan to the Defense Ministry later on Thursday. The initiative will “transform” the army, focusing it on possible future threats, he said.

“The international situation is more dangerous and more competitively intense than ever since the Cold War, and Britain must be true to our history and stand by our allies,” said the leader.

Johnson will address lawmakers by video conference as he is in quarantine after having been in contact with someone who later tested positive for the coronavirus. He will explain that the armed forces will receive 16,500 million pounds (21 million dollars) more than those contemplated in the current plans of his government.

The agreement is “enough” for the armed forces to modernize, said Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who declined to explain whether part of the new funds will come from the British foreign aid budget.

“This means we can have a discussion about what our global ambitions are and how we are going to finance them,” he told Sky News.

In recent months, concern has increased that the government is seeking ways to reduce its commitment to international aid, in part because public finances have suffered from the cost of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wallace insisted that London is not “abandoning the battlefield of international aid,” but added that “decisions on the numbers” will be presented by Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak next week.