An Update on Foreign Military Support for Ukraine
Foreign Policy Brief #77 | By: Yelena Korshunov | May 23, 2023
Volodymyr Zelensky signs the guestbook at the Bellevue Palace before heading into talk with Germany’s President Frank Walter Steinmeyer. Header photo taken from: inkl.com
This month Ukraine’s President visited Italy, Germany, France and Great Britain. As a result of the meetings, the European leaders agreed on the transfer of new large packages of military aid to Kyiv and announced the creation of a coalition for the supply of Western fighter jets and the training of Ukrainian pilots. But will the new round of arms deliveries to Ukraine make the country ready for a counteroffensive?
One of Zelensky’s achievements during this trip is the creation of the fighter jet coalition: the British will train F-16 pilots and, together with other members of the coalition, transfer fighters to Ukraine. At the same time, the British have been hinting they have the opportunity to train the Ukrainian Air Force pilots on any aircraft. In Great Britain where there are pilot training centers, including for flights at low altitudes.
The announcement of the creation of a coalition can really be a kind of trigger for other countries in the direction of fighter jet deliveries. However, it is not clear whether F-16s will be supplied to Ukraine as part of the coalition. Various options are being discussed.
Great Britain announced that it would send to Ukraine drones and missiles for anti-aircraft missile systems. They are invaluable for Ukraine because they counter Russian missile and drone attacks. France also has promised to deliver several dozen armored vehicles and light tanks, including the AMX-10 RC, in the coming weeks, according to a joint statement issued after President Emmanuel Macron’s talks with Ukraine’s president. Some of them arrived in Ukraine earlier and already have been mastered by Ukrainian crews.
In addition to that, a 2.7 billion euro aid package was announced by Germany. It includes Marder BMP, Leopard tanks, 200 drones, and 100 armored vehicles. Germany is one of the centers of production of weapons in Europe, including Leopard tanks. The other day, the German weapons manufacturer Rheinmetall and the Ukrainian company Ukroboronprom concluded a major agreement on the creation of a joint arms manufacturing venture. This act is not just about the current purchase of some weapons, but also about long-term cooperation.
Quite recently, on May 9th, another American aid package was announced. New in this package was equipment for the integration of Western air defense systems into the air defense system of Ukraine; however, these deliveries will take several months. The Ukrainians themselves have been calling for the integration of foreign weapons into the unified information system of the air defense of Ukraine since the very beginning of the supply of foreign equipment at the start of the war.
Reflecting the latest news, Alexander Lukashenko, self-proclaimed President of Belarus and an ally of Putin, has said that all the statements about the Ukrainian counteroffensive are “disinformation”. Lukashenko has traditionally stated that Ukraine and Russia should sit down at the negotiating table without any preliminary demands from Kyiv.
Ukraine’s President Volodymir Zelensky is welcomed by France’s President Emmanuel Macron upon his arrival at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris on May 14, 2023. Photo taken from france24.com
In fact, the French, German and British packages saturate the armed forces of Ukraine with the equipment that it already received earlier. The only exception was the mention in the Franco-Ukrainian declaration that France would provide an anti-aircraft SAMP-T-Mamba air defense system known for its exceptional quality. Previously it was said that they will be installed in the Spring.
There was no dramatic news during Zelensky’s visit except for the discussion of the fighter coalition. After the war ends, Ukraine will certainly adopt an ambitious program of re-construction of its armed forces, and those who are now supplying Ukraine with their armored vehicles understand that this equipment will remain in Ukraine’s service. It will need to be serviced, modernized, and updated with new systems, as part of post-war plans.