UK calls Russia top threat, issues warning on China, promises to build more nuclear warheads


To accomplish its goals, the British government wants to increase defense spending by £24 billion ($33.3 billion) over the next four years, a large increase on the £42.2 billion it spent in 2019-2020.

The government also pledged tens of billions of pounds in investment in other areas, including £15 billion for research and development for science and technology, more than £17 billion to fight climate change and promote biodiversity, and £13 billion in the fight against the coronavirus.

The document reaffirms the UK’s defense and economic partnerships with the US as its most important in the world, and it makes a strong commitment to the NATO alliance but pledges to expand Britain’s role worldwide, recognizing a tilt toward the Indo-Pacifc in the coming decade.

From that region, it calls out challenges posed by China.

“China’s increasing power and international assertiveness is likely to be the most significant geopolitical factor of the 2020s,” the review says, describing Beijing as “the biggest state-based threat to the UK’s economic security.”

But it also says London needs to work with Beijing on issues like climate change.

The 116-page report, titled “Global Britain in a Competitive Age,” reserves its most significant criticisms for Russia.

“Russia will remain the most acute direct threat to the UK,” it says at one point.

“Russia is the most acute threat in the region and we will work with NATO Allies to ensure a united Western response, combining military, intelligence and diplomatic efforts,” it says in another, pledging to work within the alliance to “deter nuclear, conventional and hybrid threats to our security, particularly from Russia.”

As part of its deterrence strategy, the UK will increase its number of nuclear warheads to 260, a substantial increase from a previously announced goal of 180.

The Royal Navy will keep four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines from which to launch those warheads, ensuring that at least one submarine is on duty at all times, the report said.

The submarine fleet will get new vessels beginning in the early 2030s, when the first of the Dreadnaught class is delivered, replacing Vanguard-class subs which have been in service since the early 1990s, the report says.

The document also reaffirms Britain’s nuclear commitment to NATO, saying the force could be committed to defending its European allies as well as the UK itself.

“Global Britain is not a reflection of old obligations, much less of as a glorious gesture, but a necessity for the safety and prosperity of the British people in the decades ahead. And I am determined that the UK will join our friends in ensuring that free societies flourish after the pandemic, sharing the risks and burdens of addressing the world’s toughest problems,” Johnson told parliament following the release of the report Tuesday.

“Britain will remain unswervingly committed to NATO and preserving peace and security in Europe, and from this secure basis we will seek out friends and partners wherever they are found, building a coalition of openness and innovation and engaging more deeply in the Indo-Pacific.

In going along with the “Global Britain” theme, more UK troops will be deployed overseas more often, the report says, highlighting the deployment later this year of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth strike group to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and the waters of the Asia-Pacific.

Britain will also revamp its overseas military installations in places like Singapore, Oman, Kenya and Gibraltar.

The report also promises an expanded commitment to UK operations in outer space. The British military will form a Space Command, “ensuring that the armed forces have cutting-edge capabilities to advance UK interests on Earth and in space” by this summer.

By next year, Britain plans to have the ability to launch commercial satellites into space from Scotland.

In the cyber realm, the report says the UK is the world’s third strongest cyber power. It will try to harness that power in a new National Cyber Force which will be integrated with counterterrorism and military forces.

Source : Nbcnewyork