US, UK & Europe have sent Ukraine weapons worth billions. Their post-war fate is stoking worry

New Delhi: Since Russia on February 24 this year, billions of dollars worth of weapons, ammunition and weapon systems have been flown from the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union to Ukraine as emergency military aid.

While the conflict has fueled the unity of the West and NATO, it has also sparked fears over the long-term fate of the weapons floating around in Ukraine. Interpol chief Jurgen Stock, for example, expects an “influx” of weapons into Europe once the war is over.

Alluding to NATO’s increased unity, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: The Atlantic Ocean: “The Russian president wanted less NATO, but ended up getting far more NATO than there has ever been since the end of the Cold War.”

In late May, the US announced military aid worth $4.6 billion to Ukraine, the UK announced military aid worth £1.3 billion, while the EU announced €2 billion in military aid.

Ramandeep Kaur | The print

Also read: For example, Russia targets the Ukrainian stronghold Severodonetsk

US military inventories hit $7.3 billion since 2014

US security assistance to Ukraine began in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea. According to estimates by the Stimson Center, a Washington-based think tank, the US sent about $2.7 billion in security aid to Ukraine between 2014 and 2021.

The US State Department emphasizes that the US has sent $7.3 billion worth of military aid to Ukraine since 2014. This includes the $4.6 billion sent in after the war started in February 2022.

In a statement from the White House on June 1, US President Joe Biden reiterated the country’s military support to Ukraine, stating, “The United States will support our Ukrainian partners and continue to provide Ukraine with weapons and equipment to defend itself.”

The US has only sent weapons with which Ukraine can “defend” itself. This means that the US has so far refrained from supplying long-range weapons that allow Ukraine to attack Russian territory.

The war in Ukraine has reflected the central role of drones for both reconnaissance and attack purposes in modern conflicts. They have played a central role in the defense of Ukraine against the multiple invasion of Russia.

The Department of Defense (DoD) reports that the US has sent more than 700 Switchblade Tactical UAVs, as well as specially developed and dispatched more than 121 loitering Phoenix Ghost ammunition for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Aside from drones, the US has sent more than 20 Mi-17 helicopters and 105 tactical vehicles to tow and salvage equipment.

Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur |  The print
Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur | The print

The DoD and the State Department also confirmed that the US would send Laser Guided Rocket Systems (HIMARS) in late May and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) in June.

The Laser Guided Rocket Systems are essentially the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II. These were used by the US forces to attack the Islamic State (IS).

The missile system includes a 70mm missile with attached laser seeker and control section. This turns the missile into a precision-guided munition.

According to reports, the US will send 4 HIMARS to Ukraine. The decision to send the HIMARS was announced in a statement from Biden on June 1.

The HIMARS is a consistent demand of the Ukrainian armed forces and was only sanctioned after weeks of deliberation in the White House. According to a news conference by senior US government officials, it was sanctioned after the US received repeated assurances from Kiev that it would be used for defensive purposes only and not to target Russian territory.

In addition, the list of weapons shipped by the US includes 1,400 stinger anti-aircraft systems, 6,500 Javelin anti-armor systems, 20,000 other anti-armor missiles, 108 155mm howitzers, and small arms and ammunition accounting for more than 7,000 weapons and more than 50,000. 000 rounds.

Ramandeep Kaur | The print

Boris Johnson links UK to £1.3bn military supplies

UK support for Ukraine’s armed forces began after the invasion of Crimea, but was limited to non-lethal weapons.

In January 2022, in light of Russia’s aggressive stance on the border with Ukraine, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace declared in the House of Commons that the UK would provide aid to “increase Ukraine’s defensive capabilities”. This meant that the types of weapons supplied to Ukraine had to be expanded with lethal weapons.

On January 30, 2022, the first shipment of deadly weapons from the UK landed in Ukraine. This shipment included 2,000 anti-armor missiles, as confirmed by a press statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

But after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Westminster ramped up arms supplies.

By April 2022, the UK Ministry of Defense had already sanctioned around £450 million in military aid. In May 2022, Prime Minister Boris Johnson further sanctioned £1.3 billion in military aid to Ukraine during a video call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

According to the latest Ministry of Defense data, the UK has supplied more than 5,000 Next-Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapons (NLAWs), 200 spear-throwing missiles, 1,360 anti-structure munitions, 5 air defense systems and 4.5 tons of explosives.

The BBC reported that the UK has sent “hundreds” of short-range Brimstone missiles, 120 armored vehicles, dozens of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and more than 400,000 rounds of small arms.

The UK asks permission from the US to send advanced medium-range missile systems to Ukraine. According to Politics, the UK plans to send the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System to Ukraine. It reportedly has a range of 80 km and will help the Ukrainian armed forces target long-range targets.

The US must approve the transfer due to export regulations. However, the transfer will again be based on guarantees from Ukraine not to use them to target Russian territory.

Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur |  The print
Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur | The print

EU members act, but lack of standardization in arms supplies

The EU approved and sent military assistance to the Ukrainian Armed Forces on several occasions, the most recent round taking place in mid-May. It is the first time that the EU as a group has financed military arms distribution to a third third country.

On 11 March, the European Parliament issued an “at a glance” note detailing the volume of this aid, which at the time amounted to one billion euros, using the European Peace Facility (EPF), “an off-budget instrument aimed at increasing of the Union’s capacity to prevent conflict, build peace and strengthen international security, by enabling the financing of operational actions’.

As such, €900 million of the aid was for “lethal support”, and the remaining €100 million for “non-lethal support”.

“The EPF has a financial cap of €5.692 billion (at current prices) for 2021-2027, with a planned cap for 2022 of €540 million,” the note added. By May 16, the European Parliament voted to increase total aid to EUR 2 billion.

However, there was a lack of standardization or uniformity in the details of military assistance among EU member states in terms of the type and number of weapons to be delivered to Ukrainians.

As reported by Politico EU in April, the delivery of heavy weapons and tanks took center stage in several European countries.

While some politicians in Germany disagreed with Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s stance on giving Ukraine battle tanks for Marder infantry, Estonia’s Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets said her country lacked the reserves. to send additional equipment in excess of the shipped equipment worth €220 million. at the start of the war.

Citing data from the Forum on the Arms Trade and several media organizations, the European Parliament lists Poland and Germany as the union’s largest suppliers to Ukraine in financial terms of bilateral military aid, with €1.47 billion and €1, respectively. 34 billion.

Poland’s aid includes more than 200 T-72 tanks and Piorun, Polish-made air defense missiles. Germany reportedly has 50 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks, 56 infantry fighting vehicles, 1,000 anti-tank weapons, 500 Stinger missiles and, according to Deutsche Welleseven self-propelled howitzers as well.

Among the most important weapon contributions are those from the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. The Czechs sent T-72 tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, portable anti-aircraft weapons and thousands of machine guns of various varieties, mortar pistols and assault rifles. In addition to ammunition, the Dutch supplied 200 Stinger missiles, 100 sniper rifles and 400 rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Larger countries Italy and France, on the other hand, have been less willing, not only in terms of arms aid, but also in terms of disclosure. People like Austria, Cyprus, Hungary and Ireland have not sent weapons, but are focusing on fuel, medical supplies and protective equipment.

Graphic Ramandeep Kaur |  The print
Graphic Ramandeep Kaur | The print

Fear of weapons falling into the wrong hands after war

Aside from Russia’s continued military threat in the face of the war, concerns have arisen over Ukraine’s illicit arms market, which has reportedly increased since the early days of conflict and separatism in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

“Officials estimate that at least 300,000 small arms and light weapons were looted or lost between 2013 and 2015, of which 200,000 were mainly in the [eastern conflict] zone and another 100,000 in Crimea. Of these, only 4,000 weapons were reportedly recovered,” said an April 2017 paper for the Small arms researchand added that individuals from both sides have looted storage facilities belonging to the Ukrainian Security Service and the Ministries of Interior and Defense.

on June 2, the guard reported that Interpol chief Jürgen Stock had identified similar concerns — that “an influx of weapons into Europe and beyond” is expected once the war ends — and called on Interpol’s 194 member countries to “track and identify the “illegal weapons”. trace”.

“Criminal groups are trying to exploit these chaotic situations and the availability of weapons, even those used by the military and including heavy weapons. These will be available in the criminal market and will present a challenge. No country or region can tackle it in isolation as these groups operate on a global level,” Stock added.

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)

Also read: Why it’s Obscene to Tell Ukraine to Give in and How the War-Distorted Global Balance of Power Opens Up India

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