UK defence secretary Ben Wallace has railed against the idea that the UK is an Amazon shopping service for weaponry. His comments were aimed at Ukraine, whose officials he said once confronted him with a shopping list of arms.
But there’s a problem with his claim that the UK isn’t simply Amazon for arms and ammunition. It’s that the UK sort of … is Amazon for arms and ammunition.
Even a brief investigation shows that the UK would sell lethal military hardware to anyone, including your nan if she had the money. This includes people with appalling human rights records, and I don’t mean your nan there. In fact, customers include nations on UK human rights watchlists and states which are long-term rivals.
Wallace was speaking ahead of a G7 summit to discuss Ukraine joining NATO. He told reporters he wanted to see more gratitude from Ukraine for British support. He also said he had told Ukraine before that their demands for arms in their war with Russia must be carefully framed:
You know, my counsel to the Ukrainians is sometimes, ‘Look, you are persuading countries to give up their own stocks and yes, your war is a noble war and we see it as you waging a war not just for yourselves but for our freedoms’.
And he said of British contributions to the war effort:
We are not Amazon… I told them that last year, when I drove 11 hours to be given a list
One can spend all day debating the Ukrainian approach to lobbying for support. But one thing is clear: if Ben Wallace doesn’t want the UK to be treated like arms and ammunition Amazon, it could try being be less like Amazon.
UK military support for Ukraine has been belligerent from the start of the war. The Canary has reported on the dangers and risks inherent to the government’s commitment to arming Ukraine. In fact, we only recently reported on arms giant BAE System’s nefarious plans to turn post-war Ukraine into an arsenal.
Then, we must consider that arms licences to Saudi Arabia and Israel since 2015, for example, come to £8.2bn and £472m respectively. This is despite serious human rights concerns about both countries. Interestingly, UK governments have also approved £103m in arms sales to Russia and £304m to China since 2008. This is despite the latter two being long-term power rivals of the UK and its allies.
And we note that all the countries mentioned here (and many others the UK has licenced arms to) feature on the government’s own human rights priority list. You can use Campaign Against the Arms Trade’s (CAAT) export data tracker to compare.
So, Wallace might not like the UK being seen as a sort of weaponry Amazon by Ukrainian leaders, but in reality, that’s what it is. This country is nothing more than a Supermarket Sweep for dictators, albeit with Ben Wallace rather than Dale Winton urging eager shoppers around dank aisles of exploding death.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/UK Government, cropped to 1910 x 1000, licenced under CC BY 2.0.