By Russell Bruce
That is not to underestimate the very considerable support from the Biden administration for Ukraine but to place the support from Europe in context. Despite the work of the Keil Institute in Germany this is little understood by the public and the media have shown no interest.
Ukraine is in our backyard and ‘The Gates of Europe’ which is also the title of Professor Serhii Plokhy’s history of Ukraine. Professor Plokhy is a Ukrainian and US citizen and is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky professor of Ukrainian history at Harvard University, where he also serves as the director of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute.
I was alerted to the work of the Keil Institute by a recent Statista email. What interested me was the total contribution of all European countries. Newsnet simply did not have the resources to undertake such a large piece of work. Help was at hand as Keil had painstakingly gathered all the commitments made by all countries around the world. In their press release they highlighted that EU countries had committed almost twice what the US had. It was the total for Europe I wanted but as Keil had documented all global commitment this enabled me to dig through much of the enormous data I downloaded to get to the total for Europe. The commitment of the UK and Norway alone amounts to 27.85 billion Euros. It is the unpublished figure for the total from Europe that makes this article an exclusive.
Before covering some of the detail from a number of countries it is important to stress the total for each country and the EU are commitments made but not what has actually been delivered. Financial aid in particular is due over a period of time, especially in the case of the large commitment by the EU. The EU paid Ukraine 1.5 billion Euros this week bringing the total to 13.5 billion Euros for 2023 to help Ukraine pay wages, pensions and run public services. Delay between European countries promise of arms and military equipment till they are ready for delivery to the battlefield is well understood and reported on.
Below is the table I created to put together key data on European countries contributions to Ukraine. It is understandable Kiel concentrated on the contributions of EU countries. At the heart of the creation of the EU was the plan to bring countries closer together to break the historical legacy of inter-country conflict that had bedevilled the continent for centuries. Countries are listed in declining order of their contributions. The UK’s contribution is certainly significant but is dwarfed by that of Germany in military aid, 160% more. This is not the impression given by the media in the UK. The current German government may think long and hard about adding to the provision of additional armaments but so does Biden and the German government clearly prefers to act in the wake of US decisions.
Many other difference between countries stand out. But to pick a few, France coming well behind others, including in military aid, from many countries further down the list is surprising for a leading EU nation. France has a significant defence industry yet 12 countries including Slovakia have committed more military aid. Just why Macron’s France is not pulling its weight needs an answer. To be shown up by Slovakia and others much poorer can no longer remain under the radar. Luxembourg an enormously wealthy country yet has only matched the commitment of Romania. Even tiny Iceland, the only NATO country not to have a standing army managed to sent some military aid. Coastal and air security are the responsibility of the Coastguard and it does have a Special Forces Unit.
Looking back at Russia’s strategy
It quickly became apparent that Ukraine was not a walkover. The mighty Russian forces were not all they and the West assumed they were. They were pushed out and retreated from the north and east and transferred their resources to the southern areas they had invaded to protect Crimea. Hard though it might have been they learned to respect Ukrainian determination, creativity and ability to be a force to be reckoned with. They also learned from their tactics. Meanwhile they would use drones and cruise missiles to hit the areas Ukraine controlled and Russia had withdrawn from. This explains why the counter offensive is slower than many expected. Russia’s southern defences are heavily fortified yet kilometer by kilometer Ukraine is advancing. The south is much warmer that the north and east and Ukraine argues the counter offensive will continue over the winter months.
What Ukraine needs are Western jets so hopefully they will get Gripens which we covered in our last piece and those F16s from the Netherlands and Denmark. Now that the US has decided to provide some ATACMS long range cruise missiles, Germany is likely to provide the Swedish/German Taurus cruise missile which is some piece of kit. Taurus has been tested in South Africa but it has never been used in a live conflict. This is something Germany needs to find out making it likely Ukraine will get at least some Taurus cruise missiles. Providing help for Ukraine is not the only benefit of providing arms to a live conflict. Learning how they perform by trained Ukrainians also has a benefit to arms sales. Like it or not, in dangerous times, Western defence industries play a big part in the economy.
ATACMS is launched from land whereas the UK’s Storm Shadow is launched by air (range 250 km) as is the Taurus (range 500km). The US ATACMS is mid range at 300km.
With their aging Soviet era planes the Ukrainians have managed miracles, as happened yet again this week with the taking out of the HQ of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea. With Taurus and Western jets by end year or early 2024 Ukraine would have serious air power. Western nations have never fought a modern war without very significant state of the art, for the period, air power.
At the start of this article I mentioned ‘The Gates of Europe’ . Professor Serhii Plokhy’s history of Ukraine which I am reading at the moment. Of particular note was the first sentence in the introduction “Ukrainians probably have just as much right to brag about their role in changing the world as Scots and other nationalities about which books have been written asserting their claim to have shaped the course of human history”
End Note: The team working on the Ukraine Support Tracker at the Keil Institute are Pietro Bomprezzi, Katelyn Bushnell, André Frank, Ivan Kharitonov, Christopher Schade, Leon Weiser and Christoph Trebesch