The escalation of the war in Ukraine has led to the shipment of military material from different countries. In fact, many had already shipped weapons before a full-scale conflict broke out. In the case of European Union has taken a step forward and has communicated its decision to organize and finance the shipment of arms to the Government of Volodymyr Zelenskya historical milestone in which the is activated for the first time and that can have consequences for the countries involved.
What budget is allocated to the shipment of weapons?
The European Commission reached an agreement this Sunday to use the European Peace Support Fund (FEAP) for the financing of “lethal” and “non-lethal” equipment in support of Ukrainian troops. The fund is financed by the 27 Member States and has €5 billion between 2021 and 2027. The Commission has decided to allocate €500 million to assistance to the Ukrainian army, of which 450 will go to lethal supplies and the other 50 to non-lethal suppliessuch as personal protective equipment, first aid kits, and fuel.
“The money that has been put into operation is a lot. It represents, for example, two thirds of what there was for recovery and resilience for the pandemic”, Araceli Mangas, professor of Public International Law at the Complutense University, explained to RNE, who believes that this initiative implies “a qualitative leap for the EU. We no longer simply send band-aids and first-aid kits, but we send ‘lethal’ and ‘non-lethal’ weapons, that is, offensive and non-offensive”.
Until now, different countries had supported Ukraine with military or humanitarian aid, but this initiative allows the organization and financing of deliveries through the FEAP with the aim of meeting the needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
However, only 24 of the 27 have committed to implementing the agreement on financing and shipment of lethal military equipment and platforms. Austria, Ireland and Malta only participate in the measure related to non-lethal supplies, which will be carried out by all Member States.
Is Spain going to send weapons?
The FEAP is financed by the Member States and Spain is one of the countries that will execute the decision regarding the shipment of lethal material, so, effectively, will contribute to the shipment of weapons through the initiative approved by the Commission.
In addition, the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, who at first had ruled out sending weapons through bilateral channels, has rectified and announced that Spain will send offensive military material to the Ukrainian resistance to defend itself from the attack of the Russian troops. He has said it in his appearance at his own request in Congress to talk about Spain’s position in relation to the war in Ukraine, in which he has recalled that Spain is the fourth donor of the mechanism applied by the EU.
Most of the members of the Union have announced their commitment to supply arms bilaterally. Other countries such as Hungary, Ireland, Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta have decided not to send arms bilaterally, while other traditionally neutral territories such as Sweden and Finland have joined in sending arms.
What does the European Union initiative entail?
As Mangas Martín explains, by sending weapons “we get involved in the war” and therefore, a neutral position of the European Union is ruled out. “It is very clear that we help one of the fighters and that we are affected by the law of war, so we can be targeted by Russia.”
It is the first time that the Commission is jointly involved in an initiative of this type, as explained to RTVE.es by Jesús Núñez Villaverde, Co-director of the Institute for Studies on Conflicts and Humanitarian Action (IECAH). However, the expert considers that this step shows “the lack of political will of NATO” to engage militarily in the defense of Ukraine.
“We are putting weapons in the hands of the Ukrainians so that they are the ones who defend their own survival,” explains Núñez Villaverde, adding “is a tragedy for the Ukrainianswhich are going to be in the front line defending interests that are theirs but also those of Europe without the rest of the European and Western countries being willing to get directly involved militarily in that scenario”.
How will Russia respond?
The Russian Foreign Ministry warned on Monday that those who supply lethal weapons to Ukraine will be held responsible in case they are used during the war between the two countries and has ensured that the measures taken by the EU will not go without a harsh response.
Both the economic measures promoted to date and the support for the resistance of the Ukrainians pose a risk to the West. “Today all EU and NATO countries are clearly identified by Russia as targets, as rivals or enemies”, explains to RTVE.es Jesús Núñez Villaverde, Co-director of the Institute for Studies on Conflicts and Humanitarian Action (IECAH). “With or without military equipment involved, Russia has taken good note of where everyone is,” he adds.
“We get involved in the war, therefore there is no neutrality of the EU. It is very clear that we are helping one of the combatants”, exposes Mangas, who warns that Europe may be the object of attacks by Russia by becoming involved in the conflict. “The attacks would be cyber attacks because Russia, I am sure, is not going to extend the fronts even to the neighboring countries close to them, such as Poland, Hungary and Romania.” According to Mangas, Russia could not economically support so many war fronts.
Regardless of whether European governments send their own material or not, “to the extent that the European peace mechanism is going to act, which is financed by the 27, the 27 are identified there,” recalls Núñez. Villaverde.
Which countries have donated weapons so far?
Since before the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, many countries had already sent weapons to the Ukrainian country. The figures are counted by billions of euros in arms and humanitarian material. In monetary quantity, the United States stands out, which in recent months has sent more than 1,000 million dollars in material.
Croatia will send material worth more than 16 million euros and France for more than 300 million euros. Other countries break down their contribution by material. Germany, for example, has ended a historic policy of not sending weapons to countries in conflict and has decided to equip Ukraine with 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 surface-to-air missiles. Belgium, for its part, has donated 2,000 machine guns and 3,800 tons of fuel.
Luxembourg, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Norway are other European countries committed to sending weapons to Ukraine. Outside the continent, Canada stands outwhich made a first shipment in mid-February and has recently announced another delivery of “protective equipment” valued at 25 million euros.