Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the US and its western European allies have been providing the Ukrainian military with training and military aid. However, it intensified after the offensive posturing by Russia and its massing of troops on its border with Ukraine at the tail end of 2021. And with the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24 2022, has only led to more aid for Ukraine by NATO member states and has even prompted Sweden to break its tradition of staying neutral and give military aid to Ukraine. This support has proven to be crucial for the Ukrainian military.
As a result of the Russian build-up on the Ukrainian border, the US and many of its NATO allies have started to provide Ukraine with larger amounts of military aid; this included offensive and defensive weapons, helmets, body armour, and field ration among other things.
As of January 2022, the US has provided Ukraine with over $2.7 billion of military aid. Before the invasion, the US transferred stocks of Javelin anti-armour missiles, M141 Bunker Defeat Munitions, small arms, body armour, and other weapons and support equipment to Ukraine. More recently, the US government has announced that it will also be sending Stinger short-range anti-air missiles additional Javelins. The most recent shipment (approved on Feb 26) was reported to be worth $350 million. It was in addition to the $200 million in lethal aid previously approved by the US government in late December; this aid package was announced following the US Sectary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Ukraine in January.
In addition to the training the UK has been giving to the Ukrainian military since 2015, it has also been supplying Ukraine with military aid since the build-up of Russian troops. Specifically, the Next Generation Light Antitank Weapon or NLAW was sent to Ukraine in large numbers via an air bridge opened by the RAF. British instructors also gave Ukrainian troops quick training on how to effectively use the weapons against enemy armour. The UK’s PM Boris Jonson, on Feb 22, said in the House of Commons that the UK has sent 2000 NLAWs to Ukraine, also stating that the UK would be sending additional aid to Ukraine.
Germany initially refused to send any offensive weapons to Ukraine, stating that it would only send helmets and equipment related to field hospitals in an attempt to not entice Russia further while also keeping in line with their historical practice of not sending weapons to conflict zones. Germany had also blocked its European allies from supplying German weapons to Ukraine. But two days after the invasion, on Feb 26, the German government set aside its historical practice and announced it would send 1000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger short-range anti-air missiles. Germany also removed the restriction on other European countries from sending German-produced defence articles to Ukraine.
Other European Countries:
Other European countries are also pitching in; the Netherlands has stated that it would provide Ukraine with 200 Stinger short-range anti-air missiles and numerous German origin anti-tank rockets. The latter development came after approval from the original equipment manufacturer (Germany). The Dutch are also sending helmets and sniper rifles.
Like Germany, Sweden has also broken its historical provision of arms during an active conflict. The Swedish government on Feb 28 announced that it would be sending 5000 AT-4 single-use anti-tank rockets, 5000 helmets and the same number of body armour, and 135,000 field rations. According to the Swedish Defence Minister, these anti-tank systems are easy to use, don’t require any training and can be carried around by a single soldier.
These weapons have given the Ukrainians the ability to ambush Russian armour columns effectively in both the countryside and the cities. Thus, allowing the small Ukrainian military to slow down and, in some cases, halt the Russian offensive.
On Feb 28, Denmark also announced that it would be sending 2700 anti-tank rockets and components of 300 Stinger missiles, among other aid to Ukraine. The Norwegian government on the same day also announced that they would send up to 2000 M72 LAWs, which are shoulder fires, light anti-tank weapons, and body armour, to Ukraine via Poland. Around the same time, other European countries were also finalising aid packages for Ukraine; Belgium decided to send 2000 machine guns and 3800 tonnes of fuel and other defensive equipment. Finland decided to send 2500 assault rifles, 150,000 rounds of ammunition, 1500 anti-tank rockets and 70,000 field rations. Moreover, the Czech government announced that they would send machine guns, rifles and other small arms and ammunition worth $8.6 million to Ukraine. The Czech Republic has also previously announced to give 4000 mortars, which have yet to be delivered. Portugal has announced to send defensive equipment (bulletproof vests, etc.), night vision goggles and small arms ammunition. Other European countries like Estonia and Latvia have also transferred undisclosed numbers of anti-tank missiles, rockets, and short-range anti-air missiles from their stocks.
For the first time in its history, the EU promised to provide Ukraine with €500 million worth of military aid. The treaties which formed the EU bar it from undertaking defence funding via the normal budget. But there is a European Peace Facility fund, which is being used to help Ukraine. The EU also tried to broker a deal in which EU and NATO member states, which still field Russian/Soviet origin fighter jets, would transfer them to Ukraine. But this deal fell through just as the Ukrainian government announced that it would send pilots to Poland to receive the planes. Bulgaria, Slovakia and Poland all denied that any such discussion had taken place. These were the three countries at the forefront of the supposed deal for the transfer of the jets.
The Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki on Feb 1 announced that his country would be transferring an undisclosed number of GROM short-range anti-air missiles and unspecified drones and ammunition to Ukraine. Other than this, Poland is now the focal point of all military aid going to Ukraine; it is serving as the logistical hub facilitating the other western countries in getting their aid to Ukraine.
Russia has been warning the West against providing Ukraine with these weapons stating that it will provoke a conflict, but it was before the invasion. On Feb 28, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that those supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine would have to bear the responsibility if the said weapons were used against the Russian military during the conflict.
The Ukrainian military has been using the anti-tank weapons it has been supplied with to devastating effect, particularly the Javelin and NLAW missiles against Russian armour throughout the country. These weapons have given the Ukrainians the ability to ambush Russian armour columns effectively in both the countryside and the cities. Thus, allowing the small Ukrainian military to slow down and, in some cases, halt the Russian offensive.