Rishi Sunak announces construction of five more warships amid Russia threats

The latest design for the Type 26 Global Combat Ship. Credit: (BAE Systems/PA)

Rishi Sunak has announced the construction of five new British warships designed for anti-submarine warfare, but declined to commit to boosting defence spending to 3% of GDP.

The prime minister is attending the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, which looks set to be dominated by the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

As part of steps the UK is taking to strengthen its security in the face of increased threats from Moscow, Mr Sunak announced that defence manufacturer BAE Systems has been awarded a £4.2 billion contract to build five more Type 26 frigates for the Royal Navy.

The latest additions to the fleet are on top of the three already under construction.

Mr Sunak said: “Russia’s actions put all of us at risk.

“As we give the Ukrainian people the support they need, we are also harnessing the breadth and depth of UK expertise to protect ourselves and our allies.

“This includes building the next generation of British warships.”

The expansion of the programme to build the frigates, designed for anti-submarine warfare, follows the attacks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, which have been blamed on the Kremlin.

Rishi Sunak holding a press conference with political journalists on board a government plane as he headed to Bali, in Indonesia Credit: Leon Neal/PA

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak again declined to commit to a promise from his predecessor Liz Truss to raise defence spending to 3% of GDP, compared to the Nato minimum of 2.5%, as he and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt seek to balance the books.

He downplayed concerns by some in the Conservative party that ditching the target could be seen as a weakness by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We’ve got not just a current but a historic track record of being strong investors in defence and prioritising NATO,” the Prime Minister told reporters travelling with him to Bali.

Mr Strelkov called Vladimir Putin a 'nonentity'. Credit: AP

“I think people can feel completely assured that we’re investing in our defences”.

He continued: “In terms of what does weaken Putin, I mean what he’s going to see from me is unequivocal condemnation of his actions at the G20.”

Mr Sunak also pointed to the UK’s “significant” financial and military assistance for Ukraine.

“I don’t think Putin or anyone else can look at that and say in any way that we’re weak,” he said.

"We’re being incredibly strong in standing up to him and giving the Ukrainians all the support they need and that will continue with me as PM."

The Prime Minister is preparing to confront Russia’s representative with allies at the summit, which starts on Tuesday.

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