Liz Truss to ‘update’ defence priorities following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Liz Truss is promising a review of defence priorities following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, amid claims the UK’s “tilt to the Indo-Pacific” should be rethought.

The likely next prime minister says there may need to be changes to “reflect the evolving geopolitical landscape” since the government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy was published in March last year.

The Tory leadership favourite – who came under fire for her willingness to press the nuclear button, even at the risk of “global annihilation” – is also confirming she would renew the Trident programme.

And she is pledging to “strengthen support for our intelligence services”, but it is unclear whether that would involve extra spending as part of an overall funding rise for defence.

Ms Truss has already vowed to boost defence spending to 3 per cent of GDP by 2030 – something her rival Rishi Sunak has called an “arbitrary target” and declined to match.

Now she is seeking to ram home her advantage with Tory members who prioritise the nation’s security, following the prominent role she has played in the UK’s support for war-torn Ukraine.

Pointing to the fallout from Russia’s assault on the country, the foreign secretary said: “We thought that peace and stability were inevitable – but they aren’t.

“The era of complacency is over. We are living in an increasingly dangerous world and our security is under more threat than it has been in decades.

“We need to make sure that Britain has the deterrents it needs to lead the global efforts to tackle aggression from the likes of Russia and other authoritarian regimes.”

The 2021 review, published by Boris Johnson, pointed to the growing threat posed by China, symbolised by the first deployment of the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier strike group to the region.

But, since the Ukraine invasion, some defence experts have demanded a rethink in favour of a return to the Cold War position of maintaining a large British Army presence in Germany, or even Poland.

They point to the mistake the outgoing prime minister made when he argued, in November last year: “We have to recognise that the old concepts of fighting big tank battles on European land mass are over.

“There are other, better things we should be investing in, in FCAS [Future Combat Air System], the future combat air system, in cyber, this is how warfare in the future is going to be.”

The review would also pivot the UK out of the Middle East, but Mr Johnson was then forced to ask Saudi Arabia to boost its oil supplies as the West cuts back on imports from Russia.

The Truss camp declined to expand on what she meant by taking into account “the evolving geopolitical landscape”.

The candidate added: “This is a generation-defining moment for freedom, security and liberty, and we must rise to it. We simply cannot allow aggressors to think they will go unchallenged.”