In a sweeping analysis of British military and foreign policy, the United Kingdom unveiled intentions to develop more nuclear arms and expand its space and cybercrime capability, while also calling Russia the highest security threat.
According to a study backed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the UK plans to expand military expenditure by £24 billion ($33.3 billion) over the next four years, while also promising £15 billion for science and technology research and development, more than £17 billion to combat climate change and encourage wildlife, and £13 billion to combat the coronavirus.
The report also says the US is is the UK’s strongest defense and economic partner in the world, while also making a strong commitment to the NATO alliance.
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.”
“China’s increasing power and international assertiveness is likely to be the most significant geopolitical factor of the 2020s,” the statement says, describing Beijing as “the biggest state-based threat to the UK’s economic security.”
“There is no question that China will pose a great challenge to an open society such as ours, but we also work with China where that is consistent with our values and interests including building a strong and positive economic relationship and in addressing climate change,” Johnson said.
As part of its deterrence strategy, the UK will increase its number of nuclear warheads to 260 while
the Royal Navy will keep four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines from which to launch warheads, ensuring that at least one submarine is on duty at all times, the report said.
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 said.
“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.
The UK will also upgrade 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 strengthening our armed forces we will extend British influence while simultaneously creating jobs around the United Kingdom, reinforcing the union and maximizing our advantage in science and technology,” Johnson said.
“With the extra investment and new capabilities of the integrated review I believe the UK can thrive in an ever more competitive world and fulfill our historic mission as a force for the good” the Prime Minister concluded.