The first meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in 2023 will focus on how to sustain and accelerate military support for Ukraine.

Pictured: The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, UK Defence Secretary, speaks at a press conference onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth docked in Oslo, Norway, Image Crown Copyright. 

The acceleration of military support to Ukraine will be the key focus of a meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in Brussels tomorrow (Weds).

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace arrived in Brussels today for the first NATO Defence Ministers meeting of 2023. Ministers are expected to discuss how to sustain and accelerate support for Ukraine, drive NATO’s military transformation and modernisation, and Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO.

Today, the Defence Secretary had bilateral meetings with his Romanian and French counterparts as well as meeting his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov.

The UK is committed to standing with Ukraine for as long as it takes. Alongside allies, we continue to provide training and equipment to the country, with the ability to surge that support should Ukraine come under threat. By making this commitment we will strengthen Ukraine’s position in negotiations, guard its long-term sovereignty and enable Ukraine to deter by denial.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

I am very pleased to be back at NATO to continue the vital work to support Ukraine, as well as meeting with my defence counterparts.

Our important work is ongoing, the UK and our Allies will stand in solidarity with Ukraine for as long as it takes

Defence Ministers from Germany, Canada, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the UK will also review future cooperation on NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence in Eastern Europe. The UK leads the eFP battlegroup in Estonia, where 1,500 soldiers are currently on a major exercise, Exercise Winter Camp, with 40 main battle tanks and 100 armoured fighting vehicles from across three countries taking part.

The meeting comes just days after President Zelenksyy made a historic visit to the UK to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and see first-hand how the UK was supporting Ukraine through military training and lethal aid donations.

As one of the leading contributors to NATO, the UK will take on leadership of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) in January 2024, following on from the UK’s 12-month tenure leading NATO’s Maritime High Readiness Force last year.

Today was also the 9th meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group (UDCG), where partners reaffirmed their commitment to sustain support for Ukraine and uphold the national rules-based order.

Together, the members of the UDCG have committed more than £40billion in military assistance to Ukraine. The UK provided more than £2.3billion worth of lethal aid to Ukraine in 2022, and the Prime Minister has committed to match or exceed the same level of funding in 2023.