More than a year of bitter and bloody war in Ukraine has brought forth two narratives in the western media. First, is the amount of money channelled through NATO to Ukraine and second, is the Ukraine joining NATO. The U.S. and its allies have contributed an undisclosed sum in total for military aid to Ukraine, with NATO recently announcing a 500 million euro ($546 million) security assistance package for support equipment.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg stated that the allies have promised 500 million euros to Ukraine for urgent requirements like fuel, medical supplies, de-mining equipment, and pontoon bridges.
“We will assist Ukraine in developing its security and defence sector, including military hospitals, and support their transition from Soviet-era to NATO equipment and standards,” he stated.
In just the past month, the US and its allies committed to giving Ukraine an extra $6.725 billion in military aid, with the European Union adding $3.8 billion through its “European Peace Facility” for purchasing military equipment, supplies, and ammunition.
The US and its allies have contributed an undisclosed sum in total for military aid to Ukraine, with NATO recently announcing a 500 million euro ($546 million) security assistance package for support equipment
On 9th June, Washington declared a security assistance package worth $2.1 billion, which consisted of air defence systems and ammunition. On June 13, they announced a $325 million package that included various military equipment such as including anti-aircraft systems, HIMARS, 105 and 155 mm artillery rounds, Bradleys, Strykers, Javelins, TOW missiles, and 22 million rounds of small arms ammo. Additionally, on June 28, $500 million worth of equipment was provided to support Ukraine’s counter-offensive operations. US officials have announced an $800 million military aid package for Kiev, which includes various weapons such as Howitzer-Fired cluster bombs, armoured vehicles, air defence systems, air-to-air missiles, and anti-air missiles.
The United States has provided approximately $50 billion of the total $94.5 billion military aid to Kiev, making it the largest contributor. This can be attributed to the interests of Washington’s political elites and the U.S. military industry, while America’s overseas allies bear the consequences of a security crisis in Europe, including economic downturn and the potential fragmentation of Europe’s industrial base, along with risks of the conflict spreading.
In addition, between January 2022 and May 31, 2023, NATO and the EU pledged over $85.7 billion to Ukraine, and with additional support from non-NATO countries like Sweden and Australia; the total military aid pledged by the West in the past 18 months exceeds $94.5 billion. In comparison, Russia committed around $56.6 billion for its defence spending in 2023.
Germany, Britain, Poland, and the Netherlands are among the top five contributors of military aid to Ukraine, with Germany providing $8.2 billion, Britain offering $7.2 billion, Poland contributing $3.3 billion, and the Netherlands providing $2.7 billion. Additionally, France has committed over $3.8 billion through the ‘European Peace Facility’.
Unveiling the Fate of Military Aid
It’s important to understand that the support Ukraine receives from Western countries, whether it’s military, economic, or humanitarian, can be seen as more than just straightforward aid. Here are a few reasons why:
- Loans: A significant portion of the support given to Ukraine is in the form of loans, rather than outright grants or gifts. This means that Ukraine will have to repay these loans in the future.
- Involvement of financial giants: Companies like Blackrock and JPMorgan, which are major hedge funds in the US, have played a leading role in providing “reconstruction” aid to Ukraine. They have a vested interest in gaining access to Ukraine’s resources and fertile agricultural lands. As a result, they may use their influence to persuade Ukraine to make certain political or economic decisions in exchange for this aid.
- Strategic interests: US Senator Lindsey Graham openly acknowledged that having Russians involved in the NATO proxy war in Ukraine is seen as a valuable investment for the United States. By engaging Russia in a costly conflict, the U.S. can divert its attention and resources away from other areas. The U.S. has the ability to create money through various means, so the financial burden of the conflict is less significant for it.
These factors help explain why the Biden administration and Western countries appear to be generous in their support for Ukraine. However, it’s important to note that this simplified explanation may not capture all the complexities and nuances of the situation.
It’s also important to mention that not all the military aid intended for Ukraine actually reaches the country, and some of it doesn’t even make it to the front lines. Instead, a portion of the money remains in the United States and is used to support the production and development of military equipment by companies like Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. There are suspicions that some Ukrainian officials may misappropriate funds, leading to Western weapons being smuggled out of the country and ending up in the hands of criminal groups in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Additionally, some of the aid is used in battles against Russian forces, including the recent Ukrainian counter-offensive, which has resulted in the loss of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and numerous tanks and armoured vehicles.
Ukraine’s NATO Aspirations
NATO has also been discussing whether to give Ukraine security guarantees, but the White House says Ukraine is not ready to join NATO yet because it is still at war with Russia. NATO’s door is still open to Ukraine, but it will have to meet certain requirements before it can join.
NATO membership for Ukraine would be very risky because it could lead to a direct confrontation with Russia; thus, sending weapons to Ukraine is safer for NATO than letting Ukraine join the alliance
NATO membership for Ukraine would be very risky because it could lead to a direct confrontation with Russia. Russia has said that Ukraine joining NATO would undermine its security interests and could even start World War III.
NATO has rules for membership that Ukraine does not meet. Ukraine has unresolved internal conflicts, territorial disputes with its neighbours, and it does not recognise Crimea, Donbass, and portions of Kherson and Zaporozhye as part of Russia. Ukraine has also launched attacks on Russian targets inside Russia.
Sending weapons to Ukraine is safer for NATO than letting Ukraine join the alliance. It is also less controversial, since Ukrainians are the ones fighting and dying, not the citizens of Western countries.
-The writer is a Defence, Aerospace & Political analyst. The views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Raksha Anirveda