Ukraine gets worldwide arms support
BRUSSELS — Countries throughout the world have been sending weapons to Ukraine.
The Dutch are sending rocket launchers for air defense. The Estonians are sending Javelin anti-tank missiles. The Poles and the Latvians are sending Stinger surface-to-air missiles. The Czechs are sending machine guns, sniper rifles, pistols and ammunition. Germany is sending Stingers as well as other shoulder-launched rockets.
In all, about 20 countries — most members of NATO and the European Union, but not all — are funneling arms into Ukraine to fight off Russian invaders and arm an insurgency, if the war escalates.
At the same time, NATO is moving military equipment and as many as 22,000 more troops into member states bordering Russia and Belarus.
“European security and defense has evolved more in the last six days than in the last two decades,” Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Union’s executive arm, asserted on Tuesday.
Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary-general, said of Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Putin’s war affects us all and NATO allies will always stand together to defend and protect each other.”
“There must be no space for miscalculation or misunderstanding,” Stoltenberg said. “We will do what it takes to defend every inch of NATO territory.”
While NATO and the EU have said that their soldiers would not fight Russia there, they are actively engaged in helping the Ukrainians to defend themselves.
Western weaponry has been entering Ukraine in relatively large but undisclosed amounts for the past several days.
While 21 of the 27 EU countries are also members of NATO, the effort to move equipment and weapons rapidly into Ukraine from Poland is being carried out by individual countries and is not formally either a NATO or EU operation.
The French say that the EU’s military staff is trying to coordinate the push.
Supplying Ukraine to allow the resistance to bloody Russia’s nose is a good idea, “but the more it ramps up you wonder how Putin will respond,” said Malcolm Chalmers, deputy director of the Royal United Services Institute, a defense research institute. “What happens if he attacks on the other side of the border? We pursue terrorists across borders, why not him?”
More supplies of ground-to-air missiles like Stingers and antitank weapons like the Javelin are crucial, as is secure communications equipment, so the Ukrainian government can continue to be in contact with its military and its people if the Russians take down the internet, said Douglas Lute, a former lieutenant-general and U.S. ambassador to NATO.
The European fund being used to buy lethal arms is called the European Peace Facility.
The fund is 2 years old and is intended to prevent conflict and strengthen international security. It has a financial ceiling of about $6.4 billion for the seven-year budget of 2021 to 2027. If Ukraine needs more money, the EU official said, it can be provided.
According to NATO, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Britain and the U.S. have already sent or are approving significant deliveries of military equipment to Ukraine, as well as millions of dollars, while other member states are providing humanitarian aid and welcoming refugees.
On Feb. 25, the day after Russia attacked Ukraine, the White House approved a $350 million package of weapons and equipment, including Javelins and Stingers. Pentagon officials said shipments began flowing within days from military stockpiles in Germany to Poland and Romania, from where the material has been shipped overland through western Ukraine.
Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, promised Ukraine to provide tens of thousands of shells and artillery ammunition, anti-aircraft missiles, light mortars, reconnaissance drones and other reconnaissance weapons. Poland, Hungary and Moldova are welcoming thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the war.
Sweden, not a member of NATO, announced that it would send Ukraine 5,000 antitank weapons, 5,000 helmets, 5,000 items of body armor and 135,000 field rations, plus about $52 million for the Ukrainian military. Finland, similarly, has said it will deliver 2,500 assault rifles and 150,000 rounds of ammunition for them, 1,500 antitank weapons and 70,000 combat rations.
The U.S. alone has deployed 15,000 extra troops to Europe — 5,000 to Poland, 1,000 to Romania and 1,000 to the Baltic States — while committing another 12,000 troops, if necessary, to NATO’s Response Force, being used in collective defense for the first time.
Washington has also deployed more fighter jets and attack helicopters to Romania, Poland and the Baltic States.
In other examples of the NATO effort to strengthen its eastern borders, France sent its first tranche of troops to Romania on Monday to lead a new NATO battalion there, and provided Rafale fighter jets to Poland.
Germany, which already is the lead nation of a NATO battalion in Lithuania, has sent another 350 troops and howitzers there, six fighter jets to Romania, some troops to Slovakia and two more ships to NATO’s maritime patrols. Berlin also said it would send a Patriot missile battery and 300 troops to operate it to NATO’s eastern flank, but did not specify where.
Britain, the lead nation of the NATO battalion in Estonia, has sent another 850 soldiers and more Challenger tanks there, plus 350 more troops to Poland. It has also put another 1,000 on standby to help with refugees, and sent another four fighter jets to Cyprus, while sending two ships to the eastern Mediterranean.
Canada has sent some 1,200 soldiers, artillery and electronic warfare units to Latvia, as well as another frigate and reconnaissance aircraft, while putting 3,400 troops on standby for the Response Force.
Italy sent eight fighter jets to Romania and put 3,400 troops on standby, while the Dutch have sent 100 troops to Lithuania and 125 to Romania, and assigned eight fighter jets to NATO duties.
Denmark is sending a frigate to the Baltic Sea and will send 200 soldiers and deploy four fighter jets to Lithuania and some to Poland to support of NATO’s air-policing mission, while Spain has sent four fighter jets to Bulgaria and ships for maritime patrols.
This gives an indication of the seriousness with which NATO is taking the threat of further Russian aggression or of a spillover of the war into NATO territory.