Rolling out the big guns: NATO’s aid to Ukraine

As the war entered its second year, the weapons grew heavier.

NATO members are expected to further boost their military support for Ukraine this week to grease the wheels of a counteroffensive that is advancing less swiftly than Kyiv’s allies had hoped.

AFP looks at how the alliance’s aid to Ukraine has evolved over the course of the war.

Over 100 billion euros for Ukraine

Kyiv’s EU and NATO allies committed a staggering 102 billion euros ($112 billion) in military aid to the country between Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022 and the end of May 2023, according to the German-based Kiel Institute for the World Economy’s Ukraine aid tracker.

The US accounted for nearly half of that amount, or 42.84 billion euros.

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Kyiv’s next biggest military backers are Germany with 7.5 billion euros, the United Kingdom with 6.58 billion, Poland with 3 billion and the Netherlands with 2.48 billion, Kiel said.

But the most generous countries have been the three former Soviet states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, whose military, humanitarian and financial aid to Ukraine came to 1.3 percent, 1.1 percent and 1 percent of their GDP respectively, compared to 0.3 percent for the US.

From pistols to cruise missiles

In the first month of Russia’s invasion, NATO allies sent Ukraine mostly defensive weapons but the list quickly expanded to include howitzers, multiple-rocket launchers and missile-defence systems.

As the war entered its second year, the weapons grew heavier.

Germany in February gave into President Volodymyr Zelensky’s pleas to allow deliveries of its state-of-the-art Leopard tanks.

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The US meanwhile delivered rocket-propelled precision bombs while Britain sent cruise missiles.

By the end of May, NATO and EU members had sent Ukraine 471 tanks, 379 howitzers and 177 MLRS rocket-launchers, according to the Kiel Institute.

Next: F-16s and cluster bombs

In February this year, Zelensky began clamouring for Western warplanes to help provide air cover for Ukraine’s highly-anticipated counter-offensive.

After initial fears of escalating the war, US President Joe Biden in May gave the green light for Ukrainian pilots to be trained up on F16 fighter jets, to be provided by an international coalition.

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Washington last week also announced plans to supply Ukraine with controversial cluster munitions, despite condemnation from human rights groups.

The US justified the move as necessary to keep Russian forces from taking more territory.

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