All of today’s papers cover Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement that Britain will send military personnel to Ukraine to train the country’s Armed Forces with medical, logistics, tactical intelligence and infantry teams. Personnel will travel to Eastern Europe but will be based in the west of the country, away from the fighting with Russian separatists. The Telegraph covers the story on its front page, highlighting the Prime Minister’s warning that Russia could be planning to invade one of the Baltic states.
The Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
In light of continued Russian-backed aggression, the UK is committed to providing additional non-lethal support to Ukraine to help them deal with the pressures they are facing.
The Sun ties in the Ukraine announcement to claims that Chancellor George Osborne has secretly conceded to Mr Cameron that the UK will break the NATO 2% GDP defence spending commitment by 2017. The paper cites a Whitehall source as asserting that Mr Osborne has sent two letters to No 10 in recent months warning the Prime Minister. The story claims that defence spending must be maintained in order to combat the "twin threats" of Russia and Islamic State. A government spokesperson said that the 2% commitment is fixed until the next spending review.
A spokesman for the Chancellor is quoted as saying:
For strong defence you need a strong economy. We have made no projections beyond April 2016, though we have made an equipment pledge to 2020. As the Prime Minister and the Government has made clear, decisions going forward will be made at the next spending round.
Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph and Daily Express report that a D-Day veteran is having to hand over all but £10 of his war pension to fund his care home costs in Kent. The Royal British Legion has highlighted the case as part of its Insult to Injury campaign, which calls for a review of the current position whereby veterans injured before the introduction of the 2005 Armed Forces Compensation Scheme have to include their pension in Means Testing for care costs. The Department of Health has been in discussion for some months with representatives of the Royal British Legion about the issue of how payments under the War Disablement Pension Scheme are treated in the financial assessment for charging for local authority supported care. Officials are continuing to look at this issue with a view to seeking the funding to cover the cost of disregarding these payments in the financial assessment for charging as part of the next Spending Review. If this bid for funding is successful it may be possible to disregard these payments from April 2016.
A government spokesperson said:
As part of the Armed Forces Covenant, this Government has committed to making sure veterans get special treatment, when appropriate, and are not disadvantaged by their service. We have been working with the Royal British Legion on this to see how we can support all veterans as part of our wider transformation of the way we will all pay for care in this country.
Red Arrows tail art
The Red Arrows aerobatic team has revealed the first livery change in its history, after unveiling a newly redesigned tail fin. Sky News filmed the team's nine pilots at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire as they headed into the skies with their new-look Hawk T1s, featuring elements from the Union Flag. It replaces a one-off tailfin design brought in for 2014 to mark the Red Arrows' 50th display year.
Image if the day