Grant Shapps has been appointed as the new defense minister of the UK, replacing Ben Wallace.
Shapps has no prior military experience, which has raised concerns among some people.
The UK is committed to supporting Ukraine in its resistance against Russia’s invasion.
Grant Shapps, the former energy minister, unexpectedly replaced Ben Wallace as Britain’s defence minister. This surprising move reaffirmed the UK’s support for Ukraine but raised concerns about Shapps’ lack of military experience.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s appointment of Grant Shapps was part of a minor reshuffle, which also involved Claire Coutinho taking over as the new energy minister, succeeding Shapps.
This change in the defense ministry comes ahead of an anticipated national election next year and following Wallace’s resignation. Sunak is likely to utilize Shapps’ skills in media communication to try to narrow the opposition Labour Party’s lead in the opinion polls.
Upon his appointment, Shapps expressed his eagerness to collaborate with the Armed Forces and continue supporting Ukraine in its resistance against Russia’s invasion under Putin’s leadership.
The UK, a significant defense supplier for Ukraine, is striving to increase its production of weaponry, particularly artillery shells, to assist Kyiv in repelling Russian forces and replenishing its own military resources. Moscow criticized the UK’s military assistance to Ukraine, viewing it as further escalating the conflict.
Several members of the Conservative Party, which is in power, expressed surprise over Shapps’ appointment due to his limited background in military matters. Known for his competence and affinity for using spreadsheets, Shapps, 54, recently visited Kyiv and announced export finance guarantees.
Shapps had previously served in various government roles within the past year, including minister for transport, interior affairs, business, and energy and net zero. Claire Coutinho, a former children’s minister, took over his role in the energy sector.
Last month, Shapps humorously remarked to journalists about his role in government crisis communication, recalling a junior official’s comment during his defense of a former adviser’s breach of COVID-19 restrictions.
Wallace formally resigned as defense minister in a letter to Sunak, offering continued support to the government while emphasizing the importance of not treating defense as discretionary spending. A former British army captain who played a role in responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Wallace indicated his desire to step down after four years in the position.
During a NATO summit, Wallace had called on Ukraine to demonstrate gratitude and not treat its allies as transactional entities. He later clarified that his comments were misinterpreted and that the relationship between London and Kyiv was more of a partnership.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov expressed gratitude to Wallace for his dedication and influence in rallying other nations to assist Ukraine.
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