This article was written on 19 November 2022
Senior representatives, including some defence ministers, from the ten nations comprising the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) met in Edinburgh earlier in the month to discuss cooperation and commitment in the face of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
The JEF is made up of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
The UK convened the meeting, which is the group’s first one since March 2022, just prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Some of the commitments made by the group include additional payments into the International Fund for Ukraine (IFU), and an agreement to protect critical national infrastructure, including underwater cables and pipelines.
This comes in the wake of multiple allegations from EU member nations that Russia caused a massive gas leak by deliberately damaging the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as retaliation for the EU’s support of Ukraine.
The UK has played an active part supporting Ukraine in the conflict.
It has committed £2.3 billion in military aid for the 2022-2022 financial year, of which £250 million is going to the IFU. It has been leading the training of over 7,400 Ukrainian military personnel so far, with 1,900 currently undergoing training.
Representatives from the JEF also visited training sessions to witness the instruction of Ukrainian trainees.
In Edinburgh, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, “The Joint Expeditionary Force has been at the forefront of providing diplomatic, financial, humanitarian and military support, something we will continue to do until Russia has withdrawn their forces”.
Mr Wallace further stated that he is determined to “increase defence spending”, also taking a swipe at the UK’s economic uncertainty when he told the media that he is “basically taking it budget by budget at the moment”.
On the topic of Ukraine’s liberation of Kherson, a strategic city in the south of the country, from Russian forces, Mr Wallace urged caution: “We will believe it when we see it and I think we should all be cautious”.
The next meeting of JEF members is scheduled to be in Riga, Latvia, in December this year, where there will no doubt be further commitments by group members towards the defence of Ukraine.
The war in Ukraine continues on, and even as Ukrainian forces retake control of Kherson, the future of the conflict, and of the country, remains uncertain.
“Ben Wallace” by Number 10 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.