In an exclusive interview with ITV News, Grant Shapps warns the 'rest of the world' cannot afford to 'give up and get bored' of supporting Ukraine. ITV News Political Correspondent Harry Horton reports
The world can’t afford to "give up and get bored" of the war in Ukraine, Grant Shapps has told ITV News.
The defence secretary's warning comes against a backdrop of scepticism in the European Union and the United States over continued financial support for the war-torn country.
But in an exclusive interview, Mr Shapps said financial aid for Ukraine will continue despite the economic situation in the UK, while the amount remains unclear.
The new Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron has also been unable to put a number on it, but told the House of Lords on Tuesday it will be the same "or even ahead" of previous support.
"I accept that it's unlikely to be a quick conclusion", Mr Shapps said of the war in Ukraine, "but I also passionately believe that we cannot afford, and of course the Ukrainians can't, a Putin win.
"We cannot have a situation in the 21st century where an autocratic leader thinks it's okay to invade a democratic neighbour and that the rest of the world will just give up and get bored of it."
The new defence secretary's comments come as the government commits to training another 10,000 Ukrainian troops on top of the 40,000 who have already received battlefield training at sites across the UK.
The US has provided almost $45bn in financial support, but this week the White House wrote to Republicans in Congress urging them to pass a new funding settlement, or risk running out of money to send weapons to Kyiv by the end of the year.
Mr Shapps said in his experience, “I actually found the Republican support… very solid” and insisted “the US system will sort it out.”
But pressed on growing international doubts over financial support for Ukraine, Britain’s defence chief admitted: "It is not that I don't worry about these things. I do.
"I mean, absolutely every day I'm thinking about and concerned about how we help our Ukrainian friends prevent a despotic leader marching across Europe and through Ukraine. So yeah, I worry about it."
Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron says next year's support for Ukraine will be the same 'or even ahead' of previous commitments
Ukraine’s hunger for weapons has been met, in part, by additional UK supplies.
ITV News was granted rare access to BAE Systems' munitions factory just outside Sunderland, where its production has increased eightfold since the conflict began.
The UK government - which supplies Ukraine with artillery shells like the 155mm made in Sunderland - topped up its orders by £430m this year.
The demand is unlikely to drop soon, according to Steve Cardew, who said the signs from the Ministry of Defence suggest it's "not going to be a short-term blip".
As the war in Ukraine heads towards its third year, and with fighting on the frontline at a standstill, Mr Shapps rejected calls for Western allies to quietly persuade Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy to consider a peace agreement with Russia.
"It can only be for Ukraine to decide how and at what point they want to talk about those kinds of things," he said.
"That's not a decision that others can make for them. So we will stand with Ukraine for as long as they need to continue fighting this war."
After just one month as defence secretary, Mr Shapps found himself handling a second major global war, this time in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas, but he insisted the West won’t pay any less attention to Ukraine.
"What's happening in the Middle East is not taking our eyes off what's happening in Ukraine," he told ITV News.
"And if Putin thought that a conflict in the Middle East would do that, he's absolutely fundamentally wrong. Both are serious. Both matter to our defence of the civilised world and to our prosperity.
"But look, these things aren't unconnected", he added.
"You see how Putin is working with the Iranians. He's been sending Iranian drones, the Shia drones into Ukraine. You see how he works with North Korea.
"These are not entirely unconnected in terms of, you know, who the good and the bad actors are with these with these conflicts."
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