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22 May 2024

London Defence Conference: Russia and China are collaborating on combat equipment in Ukraine

The Secretary of State for Defence has today revealed that “Russia and China are collaborating on combat equipment for use in Ukraine.”

Grant Shapps speaking at the London Defence Conference 2024

The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP said: “I think it is a significant development. And we should be concerned about that because in the earlier days of this war China would present itself as acting as a moderating influence on Putin. […] The 64 percent increase in trade between the two countries reveals there is a much deeper relationship there.”

He also told the London Defence Conference at King’s that NATO members should commit to 2.5 per cent of their GDP to defence spending. NATO estimates that 11 of the 31 members of NATO spend more than the targeted 2 per cent, with a further seven countries expected to hit 2 per cent of their budgets this year.

Mr Shapps accused European countries who do not spend 2 per cent of their GDP on defence that they “effectively benefit from NATO coverage [and] enjoy the benefits of freedom and liberty” and “it's time for every European nation to step up.”

Mr Shapps called on European and Indo-Pacific countries to be more committed in defence as Russia or China could “walk into a democratic neighbour” and impose their worldview.

I do not believe we have collectively gone far enough. The democratic world is saying the right things, and doing the right things, but not with the scale or the pace that this critical moment requires.

The Rt Hon Grant Shapps, The Secretary of State for Defence

The Secretary’s introductory speech was followed up with a Q&A with Mark Urban, Diplomatic Editor of BBC Newsnight. When asked if the British public believe we’re at a moment of grave national threat, Mr Shapps affirmed that he believes “public attitudes are shifting”. He stressed that most people don’t believe that Russia’s ambitions would end with the takeover of Ukraine and believes his efforts to convince people of the threat has been successful. 

Leaders in security and defence from around the world are attending the annual London Defence Conference at King's this week.

The three-day conference began on Tuesday 21st with a "Future Leaders Day", with students and young professionals from across the UK invited to engage with the biggest geopolitical challenges of the 21st century. Sessions covered topics such as the Middle East, economic sanctions and maritime security.

This year’s conference theme is "Deterrence: Building Capacity to Counter Global Threats", with panel discussions, keynotes and conversation sessions on contemporary and future challenges in security.