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Johnson calls for increased defence spending while ‘ignoring the cost-of-living crisis’

Government's hypocrisy ‘knows no bounds,’ anti-war campaigners say

THE hypocrisy of this government “knows no bounds,” anti-war campaigners have warned after Boris Johnson called for Nato countries to increase their defence budgets.

Leaders of the 30 alliance members gathered in Madrid to agree on a new plan in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. ­

At the summit, the Prime Minister called on alliance leaders to increase their defence budgets while Nato agreed to a “fundamental shift” which will see it return to a cold-war-style readiness to respond to the increased threat posed by Russia.

Heavy equipment will be pre-positioned in eastern Nato members along with stockpiles of supplies, while forces from western members will be assigned specific regions on the eastern flank to protect in partnership with local troops.

Britain already has a significant military presence in Estonia but Mr Johnson used the summit to increase its headquarters in the Baltic nation.

Officials said this will ensure Britain can provide rapid reinforcements if needed, and deploy artillery, air defence and helicopters.

The alliance plans to have 300,000 troops at high readiness — up from the current 40,000 — and Britain will commit capabilities in land, air and sea to the “new force model.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who also attended the summit, said that while he has enough funding for the “here and now,” extra investment is needed in the next government spending round from the middle of the decade.

The PM also claimed that “if Vladimir Putin was hoping he would be getting less Nato … he’s been proved completely wrong” by Sweden and Finland joining the alliance.

The two Nordic countries are on track to end their historic neutrality after Turkey withdrew its objections following negotiations during the Nato summit today.

Meanwhile, the government announced a new round of sanctions on Russia’s allies today, as new data revealed the country is still one of the biggest suppliers of refined oil to Britain.

Britain will be imposing sanctions on the country’s second-richest man Vladimir Potanin and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cousin Anna Tsivileva, who is president of the JSC Kolmar Group coalmining company.

Oil imports from Russia have been significantly reduced in the immediate aftermath of the Ukraine invasion, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

But in April, Britain still imported about £140 million of petrol, diesel, heating oil and more from the country — two months after the war began.

In February, Russia was Britain’s biggest supplier at £410 million of imports but now remains at number six.

Britain has instead increased its supply from other countries to make up for the shortfall, including Saudi Arabia, despite the Kingdom’s own atrocities in Yemen.

Stop the War Coalition’s Lindsey German told the Star: “The hypocrisy of this government knows no bounds.

“Boris Johnson calls for Nato countries to increase their defence budgets while he ignores the cost-of-living crisis which is wrecking lives in Britain and abroad.

“He supports still more sanctions on Russia even though this is exacerbating that cost-of-living crisis.

“He welcomes Sweden and Finland joining the aggressive alliance even though this ends their traditional neutrality and comes at the price of a deal with Turkey which means much greater oppression of the Kurds.

“Condemnation of military aggression is aimed at Russia, while Saudi war crimes in Yemen are ignored, and the Saudis are rewarded by Britain buying more of their oil.”

Ms German said the desperate plight of the Ukrainian people “will not be helped by any of this,” adding: “They deserve peace, and every government should be prioritising how to achieve this, not how to escalate war.”

The Peace Pledge Union tweeted: “To gain Nato membership, Sweden & Finland have agreed to lift an arms embargo on Turkey and extradite prisoners to Turkey.

“Being part of Nato has already led them to compromise policies on the arms trade and human rights — and they’re not even members yet!

“No to Putin, no to Nato.”

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