This content is not available in your region

Which EU countries are helping Ukraine militarily?

Access to the comments Comments
By Alberto De Filippis
Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces, the military reserve of the Ukrainian Armes Forces, take part in a military exercise near Kiev on December 25, 2021.
Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces, the military reserve of the Ukrainian Armes Forces, take part in a military exercise near Kiev on December 25, 2021.   -   Copyright  SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP or licensors

Ukraine has asked European nations for military and defensive aid amid fears that Russia will invade the country. 

But the question of arms deliveries to Ukraine remains controversial. Germany has been one of the most vocal opponents, with Luxembourg's foreign minister Jean Asselborn saying it is "wrong to tell people that Russian military superiority over Ukraine can be balanced by sending weapons".

In Ukraine, however, there is disappointment at this reluctance to provide military aid. 

In a guest article published by German newspaper Bild, the mayor of Kyiv, Vitaly Klitschko, said "the non-assistance and betrayal of friends in a dramatic situation."

But there are countries that are willing to provide weapons to Ukraine, including the Baltic states, the Czech Republic, and Poland.

Poland

Last week, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki officially offered “tens of thousands of bullets and artillery ammunition, MANPADs, light mortars, reconnaissance UAVs and other types of defensive weapons,” but he didn’t disclose any further details about terms and conditions.

Yago Rodriguez, a political analyst, told Euronews: "It is believed that Warsaw has already sent kamikaze drones. This is a weapon system in which the ammunition is a drone that flies over an area, waiting for the target and attacking only once it has been located. 

"The circuitous overflight phase allows the selection of targets to be hit."

Warsaw is also believed to have sent portable GROM anti-aircraft missiles, which are heat-guided weapons that allow an aircraft to be hit up to three kilometers away. These weapons are mainly used against tanks to slow down a possible ground attack. 

Missiles, on the other hand, would be used to limit Russia's total strategic air superiority at the moment. Suicide drones could also strike Russian artillery positions.

Czech Republic

The Czech government provided Ukraine with scores of artillery rounds in January as part of the country’s support amid the looming threat of Russia’s invasion. 

The transfer of 4,006 stored 152-millimeter shells with a total value of $1.7 million at no cost to Ukraine was approved following a request from the Czech defense ministry.

Baltic countries

Latvia and Lithuania are ready to provide stinger anti-aircraft missiles and related equipment. Estonia will donate an unspecified amount of Javelin anti-tank missiles.

But the German government is considering a permit requested by Estonia to deliver these arms to Ukraine.

Howitzers from the former East German stocks were first sold to Finland under special conditions and then from there, they were given to Estonia. 

One of these conditions was that Berlin could veto the final destination of the weapons.

Germany

Berlin recently sent 5000 helmets to Ukraine, which Rodriguez said was a non-lethal aid, as well as a political act.

"The economic aid from Germany and the European Union has been substantial, but it shows a political choice. Not wanting to send arms does not mean choosing peace. It means not being willing to stand by Ukraine at any cost," Rodriguez said.

Berlin has offered Kyiv over €2 billion in economic aid over the next few years though, as on Monday announced it would be sending additional troops to NATO battle groups in Eastern Europe.

Spain, Holland and Denmark

Spain has mobilised frigates and fighter jets to the Black Sea. Holland and Denmark have moved troops but  in other NATO countries in order to deter Russia from possible attacks.

It is unthinkable that the EU can militarily help Ukraine to defend its border, Rodrigues said. 

"In the EU treaties, the block can only intervene to defend another member state," he said.

But the executive director of the International Renaissance Foundation in Kyiv, Oleksandr Sushko, told Euronews that a full-scale occupation of Ukraine is unlikely.

"I don't believe in a total occupation of Ukraine. The population is against it and Moscow does not have enough resources," Sushko said. 

"What Moscow might try instead is to create a Bosnian system, a dysfunctional state, and inefficient divided administration, with some parts controlled by Russia. A non-functional state."

Ukraine, a former "paradise of arms".

Does Ukraine really need more weapons to defend itself?

The country was, until a few years ago, one of the world's biggest arms exporters. When it was part of the USSR, Ukraine produced 30% of Soviet armaments. In terms of numbers, it employed one million workers in over 750 factories in the country.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, these weapons disappeared on the black market and were resold in African countries. 

In 2012 Kyiv was the fourth largest exporter of arms in the world. Pakistan, China, and Russia were its best customers. 

One of the problems was that Kyiv produced spare parts of weapon systems, but did not have an industry capable of creating a complete weapon. Another major issue was corruption. 

In 2010, all Ukrainian defence companies merged into one conglomerate called Ukroboronprom which, in just ten years, destroyed domestic production due to corruption. 

In 2014, Ukraine had, officially, about 168,000 military personnel, only 6,000 of whom had military training. The rest were part of a gigantic, and useless, administration.

In his documentary "Ukraine, the Forgotten War", journalist Carlos Gonzalez showed how when the eastern territories of the country split up, Ukrainian volunteer groups formed. 

Some of them were extreme right-wing oriented. Others were not. There were also paramilitary groups formed by Ukrainian Muslims. 

This was financed with crowdfunding, with organisations like "Come Back Alive" finding the money to buy weapons for volunteers thanks to the economic help of the Ukrainian diaspora around the world.

How and under what conditions United Stated have helped Ukraine?

One of the conditions that Washington set for sending arms to Ukraine was that all volunteers must be in the regular army. The paramilitary groups were then incorporated into the regular troops. The Ukrainian army, therefore, increased, according to calculations by the Ukrainian interior ministry, to 250,000 personnel.

The United States has provided $2.5 billion in military aid to Ukraine since 2014 and the aid includes vehicles and anti-artillery radar. NATO has also sent military instructors to train Ukrainian troops.

All this, however, is done with a deterrent character. Ukraine has, for instance, obtained Javelin anti-tank missiles from the USA. It is a portable rocket launcher system. A weapon that would be very useful in battle. The supply contract, however, prohibits the use of these rocket launchers in combat.

The supply is yet another example of attempted deterrence. The West does not want war. Europe, which depends on Russia for gas supplies, does not want war. Moscow does not want Ukraine in NATO nor as part of the European Union. No one seems to want a conflict and yet never since the end of the Second World War has the European continent appeared so close to one.