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British Defense Chief urges bolstering military post-Brexit, warns Russia of ‘costs’

United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson meets then-U.S. Defense Secretary James N. Mattis. (U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith/Department of Defense)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Britain’s defense minister says the country should bolster its military capabilities after Brexit and warned that Russia should be aware that actions deemed unacceptable by the West will “come at a cost.”

Speaking at London’s Royal United Services Institute on February 11, Gavin Williamson highlighted close military ties between Washington and London and supported U.S. President Donald Trump’s call for NATO countries to increase military spending in the face of what he called Russian provocations.

Relations between the West and Moscow are strained over a variety of issues, including Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, alleged meddling in the U.S. presidential election, and a nerve-agent attack on a former Russian spy in England, which the West has blamed on Russia.

“Such action from Russia must come at a cost,” Williamson said.

Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union at the end of March, although internal political fighting has left the country without a clear road map for the departure or what will happen afterward.

Williamson, in his speech, outlined plans to adopt a stronger military stance after Brexit, saying: “Since the new global great game will be played on a global playing field, we must be prepared compete for our interests and our values far, far from home.”

The minister announced that the first mission of Britain’s HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier will include work in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Pacific regions, and the vessel will carry British and U.S. F-35 jets.