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02 Sep. 2023

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Grant Shapps instead of Ben Wallace: what are the former and new UK defense ministers famous for?

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Grant Shapps instead of Ben Wallace: what are the former and new UK defense ministers famous for?

Ben Wallace, who called on Ukrainians to be more grateful, has officially resigned as the UK's Minister of Defense. Find out what kind of mark the former minister left behind and who became the new head of the UK Ministry of Defense

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On July 16, 2023, Ben Wallace announced his decision to step down as the UK Secretary of State for Defense, a position he has held for the past four years, longer than any of his predecessors. As Wallace emphasized in an interview with the Sunday Times, he began his career in politics in the Scottish Parliament in 1991.


"That's 24 years. I spent more than seven years with three phones by my bedside," Wallace said. And later he added that his career has had a significant impact on his life and his family in particular.


Wallace submitted his formal letter of resignation to Prime Minister Rishi Sunaku on August 31, ahead of an expected cabinet reshuffle. In his letter, Wallace noted that "the world is becoming an increasingly dangerous place," but also thanked the British prime minister for his investment in the Ukrainian army and defense, and praised the British government's response to the war in Ukraine. 


What is Ben Wallace remembered for Ukraine and why was the former Defense Minister considered a true friend of Ukrainians despite the misunderstanding that shook the world in the summer of 2023?


What contribution did Ben Wallace make to helping Ukraine?


In general, Ben Wallace played a key role in supporting Ukraine after the start of the full-scale russian invasion, including the provision of Western weapons to the Armed Forces. He personally supervised the transfer of advanced weapons to Ukraine and repeatedly emphasized that russia is the greatest threat to Europe. In addition, Wallace emphasized that russia's invasion of Ukraine is a repetition of tyranny and fascism that the world has not seen since World War II.


Today, the UK ranks second after the United States in terms of military assistance. In terms of money, Ukraine has received £4.6 billion (~$5.6 billion) in aid from the United Kingdom, which is undoubtedly an achievement for Ben Wallace personally.


It is also important that the former head of the British Ministry of Defense took important steps to support Ukraine even before the actual outbreak of a full-scale war. During an interview with a British publication, he said that on the eve of the russian invasion, he communicated with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov using his own ciphers. Thus, Wallace referred to the weapons that Britain supplied to Ukraine as whiskey brands in his messages. 


"So the Nlaw was Glenfiddich, and the Harpoon anti-ship missiles were Islay. I sent him a message: 'I have some whiskey for you' or 'whiskey is on the way,'" he told the Sunday Times.


In addition, Wallace said that during his last visit to moscow on February 11, 2022, which was aimed at preventing a russian invasion, he gave russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu a bottle of Glenfiddich whiskey - "He didn't get the joke, of course," Ben Wallace told the publication.


The latest high-profile case that has stirred up the society of Ukraine and the UK was Ben Wallace's statement about the lack of gratitude of Ukrainians. And despite the obvious and undeniable support of the former UK Secretary of Defense, Ukraine reacted quite sensitively to the politician's criticism. However, the situation was resolved, and Ben Wallace later summarized that he would support Ukraine to the end, as long as it takes.


So, who is the new head of the UK Ministry of Defense and will support for Ukraine remain at the same level as it was achieved thanks to Ben Wallace's contribution?




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Grant Shapps is the new UK Defense Secretary: what do we know about him?


The new Minister of Defense was appointed on the same day, August 31, during the expected government reshuffle. The newly appointed head of the UK Ministry of Defense has many years of experience in politics and management, but has never held a position related to the defense sector and does not even have military service experience. It is known that Grant Shapps' career is striking in its diversity, as the position of the head of the Ministry of Defense became the fifth in the last year alone.


At the same time, despite his lack of military experience, Shapps was closely involved in issues related to the war in Ukraine, as he served as Minister of Energy Security. In addition, he is considered one of the most confident and capable communicators in the British government. 


British analysts say that Grant Shapps' appointment is more of a tribute to the Prime Minister. After all, Sunak had to appoint someone he trusted to such an important position at this time.


Obviously, the new defense minister will not have the same authority as Wallace and is unlikely to be able to immediately continue the policy of the former defense minister and initiate the supply of new types of weapons to Ukraine. However, his unequivocal support for the Ukrainian people and state has been evident from the very beginning of russia's full-scale invasion. 


He also stayed in touch with the Ukrainian government and participated in the development and announcement of aid packages for Ukraine, particularly in matters related to the reconstruction of the state.


In addition, Shapps is the only member of the British government who has taken in refugees from Ukraine.


In his first statement after being appointed to the post of the UK Defense Secretary, Grant Shapps paid tribute to Ben Wallace's contribution to defense and global security and pledged "Britain's continued support for Ukraine in its fight against putin's barbaric invasion."


The United Kingdom is not just a partner, but a true friend of Ukraine, whose support cannot be overestimated in today's realities. Ukraine thanks the British government and society for their trust and assistance!


We remind you! The Visit Ukraine team continues to help Ukrainians and foreigners every day, but this would not be possible without the support of each of you. We express our gratitude to every person who joins our efforts - the defenders, those who care about the fate of Ukraine, and our readers from all over the world who support us in such a difficult time for our country. To learn more about how we have helped thanks to you and your support, please follow the link.




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