NATO countries have committed to bolstering Ukraine’s war resources in its battle against the Russian invasion by sending additional munitions. The United States is the primary source of military assistance, followed by the UK and the EU. They, along with Germany, are dispatching tanks, with Germany also permitting other Western nations to send German-manufactured tanks from their collections. NATO allies, including the US, are endorsing the provision of advanced fighter jets to Ukraine and are offering to train Ukrainian pilots.
During a trip to Kyiv on February 21, US President Joe Biden pledged almost half a billion dollars in additional military support for Ukraine, separate from the aid outlined earlier. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has underscored the urgent need for Western tanks to defend Ukraine and repel Russian troops. The US, UK, and Germany are shipping 31 Abrams tanks, 14 Challenger 2 tanks, and 14 Leopard 2 tanks, respectively. The Leopard 2, employed by several European countries, is deemed easier to maintain and more fuel-efficient than most Western tanks. Spain has also pledged to send six of its Leopard 2 tanks.
In the aftermath of the Russian invasion, NATO encouraged its members to provide tanks formerly used in the Warsaw Pact to Ukraine. Ukraine’s military is familiar with operating and maintaining these tanks and has a significant stock of spare parts. Although Western tanks are more complex and harder to keep in working condition, Ukraine’s forces believe they can now use NATO tanks. The UK led NATO’s efforts by offering its main battle tank, the Challenger 2, which is more sophisticated than any other tanks Ukraine’s forces currently have.
Before the invasion, Ukraine operated T-72 tanks designed by the Warsaw Pact. Since February 2022, Ukraine has received more than 200 T-72s from Poland, the Czech Republic, and others. When announcing the US’s decision to send 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, President Biden declared them the “most capable tanks in the world.” He also announced that Ukrainian soldiers would be trained to operate them immediately. However, it remains to be seen when the tanks will be delivered.
As per BBC’s Gary O’Donoghue, the financing process for these tanks indicates they may not be deployed for a few months. Experts highlight that battlefield success requires diverse equipment, coordinated deployment, and robust logistical support. Among the armored vehicles donated to Ukraine is the Stryker, with 90 slated for dispatch soon from the US. The US has also donated 59 more Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, which saw extensive use in Iraq.
In December, the US declared it would send the Patriot missile system to Ukraine, a move that Germany and the Netherlands have mirrored. This high-tech system, expensive to operate, needs specialized training for Ukrainian soldiers, likely to occur at a US Army base in Germany. Ukraine has been deploying Soviet-era S-300 surface-to-air systems in response to Russian attacks. Efforts have been made to replenish these with similar systems from other former Soviet nations, including some from Slovakia.
Long-range rocket launchers, such as the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (Himars), have been supplied to Ukraine by the US and several European countries. These systems played a crucial role in Ukraine’s victories against Russian forces in the south, especially in Kherson. The range and accuracy of Himars surpass the equivalent Russian systems. However, Western donors still need to provide the ammunition with the longest range.
After the invasion and Russia’s withdrawal from Kyiv, the war shifted east, where artillery supplies were in high demand. Australia, Canada, and the US have sent advanced M777 howitzers and ammunition due to the rapid use of shells.