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UK Energy Secretary Grant Shapps announced as new Defense Minister

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk August 31, 2023 1:33 PM 2 min read
MP Grant Shapps, who visited Ukraine in August 2023 as U.K. Energy Secretary, in Kyiv ahead of Ukrainian Independence Day celebrations on Aug. 24, 2023. (Grant Shapps / Twitter). 
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U.K. Energy Secretary Grant Shapps is replacing Ben Wallace as Defense Minister, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Aug. 31.

Wallace held the position since 2019 and played a key role in Britain's response to Russia's war against Ukraine.

Shapps, who has been Energy Secretary since February 2023, said he will continue his country's "support for Ukraine in their fight against Putin’s barbaric invasion."

He visited Ukraine last week to learn about Ukrainian energy security, meeting with Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov and Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko.

He also said the visit was of personal significance as he had hosted a Ukrainian family in his home for a year following the outbreak of the full-scale invasion. He visited the kindergarten the child of the family used to attend and met the teachers.

Shapps said he was honored to be appointed Defense Minister and thanked his predecessor for his "enormous contribution."

A new Defense Minister had been anticipated since earlier in the summer when Wallace said in an interview with the Times that he planned to resign from his post.

Wallace had been U.K. Defense Minister since 2019 and played a key role in Britain's response to Russia's war on Ukraine.

In July, Wallace made an infamous remark at the NATO Summit in Vilnius that Ukraine needs to show "gratitude" to allies for providing weapons to keep receiving support.

Zelensky responded that he does not know how else should Ukraine show its thankfulness.

"Let him write to me (about) how else I should express my words of gratitude, or we could get up in the morning and express our words of gratitude to the minister," Zelensky said.

As minister, Wallace made the U.K. the first country to provide Ukraine with weapons capable of reaching targets deep into Russian-occupied territories, namely by providing Storm Shadow missiles in May 2023.

The United Kingdom spent 2.3 billion British pounds (about $2.9 billion) on defense assistance to Ukraine last year and has committed the same amount in 2023.

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