Jan 21, 2022 - World

Who's arming Ukraine: U.S., U.K., Baltic states — but not Germany

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo: Aaron Chown/WPA Pool/Getty

The State Department has approved requests from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to transfer U.S.-made weaponry to Ukraine, reflecting a growing urgency on NATO's eastern periphery to deter Russian aggression.

Why it matters: As much as the Ukrainian military has improved since 2014, it would still be no match for a full-scale Russian invasion. The U.S. and its allies are instead hoping that Western arms and training — in addition to the threat of crippling financial sanctions — will help deter Vladimir Putin from invading.

The big picture: The U.S. has provided over $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine over the past year, more than at any point since 2014, when the Russians steamrolled their way into Crimea. President Biden also authorized an additional $200 million in December.

  • The Ukrainian government and Congress want the U.S. to do more: Republicans and Democrats are both pushing to expedite up to $500 million in security assistance, including a bill introduced today that would initiate a "lend-lease" agreement for Ukraine.
  • The so-called "porcupine strategy" has echoes in the Soviet-Afghan War of the 1980s, when the CIA helped back a bloody insurgency that ultimately forced the Soviets to retreat.
  • The Baltic states, which have much to lose from renewed Russian aggression, will send Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger air-defense missiles, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, the U.K. has airlifted over 2,000 anti-tank missile launchers to Ukraine this week alone (check out this stunning time-lapse), and dispatched an elite special operations group to train Ukrainian ground forces.

  • Denmark announced a new $25 million "comprehensive support package" aimed at helping bring Ukraine's military in line with NATO standards and promote conflict resolution in the war-torn east.
  • Turkey agreed to a military cooperation framework with Ukraine last fall, and infuriated Russia by selling Kyiv a batch of drones that were deployed in the Donbas.
  • Canada, which has the third-largest population of Ukrainians outside of Ukraine and Russia, has sent a special operations unit for training and has not ruled out sending defensive weapons.
  • The Czech Republic's newly elected government is open to supplying arms to Ukraine in coordination with other countries. The French have also sold weapons to Kyiv in the past.

The other side: Germany has declined to send arms to Ukraine due to a new ban on such exports to conflict zones. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a visit to Kyiv this week that the policy was "rooted in our history."

  • Germany was the world's fourth-largest arms exporter over the past four years, with major clients including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but the previous government also opposed sending lethal weaponry to Ukraine to avoid provoking Russia.
Go deeper