It is believed that almost a third of heavy weapons in Ukraine came from the West. How they help the military – and why they are becoming more and more important.
Western military support has been literally vital to Ukraine since February 2022, when the Russian offensive on Ukraine began. It did not go unnoticed: the United States, NATO countries and other states helped Ukraine before the start of the war not only with equipment, but also with reconnaissance.
The West steadily increased military aid
When it comes to equipment, Western military aid has grown steadily, both in number and type of equipment. In the first few weeks, mainly small arms, man-portable anti-tank guns (Javelin, NLAW, Panzerfaust-3 and others) and anti-aircraft missiles (Stinger, Strela and others) were delivered.
They made a decisive contribution to the fact that Ukraine was able to successfully repel the first Russian attacks on Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv and other major cities. Turkish-made Bayraktar assault drones, which Ukraine began to procure even before the war, enabled the Ukrainian army to hit Russian targets deep in the front line.
First waves of western supplies soften Russian offensive
The delivery of heavy weapon systems (artillery, tanks, armored personnel carriers, helicopters) took more time. It’s still like this. This is mainly because heavy weapons require much more complex and lengthy training than shouldered, often disposable rocket launchers.
Also the logistics required are much more complex: infrastructure, spare parts, ammunition, fuel, etc. This also applies to the delivery of the famous German Panzerhaubitze-2000, a self-propelled artillery system. Therefore, the provision of defense support, such as protective equipment, was also crucial for the survival of the Ukrainian armed forces, especially the hastily formed regional defense units.
Russia’s arsenal is still from Soviet stocks
With five months of warfare, the technological superiority of Western weapons over Russia’s vast but still largely Soviet arsenal is becoming more and more evident.
The efficiency of the Javelin and other missiles, the Bayraktar attack drones, the Himars missile launchers supplied by the US, the French Caesar and the German Panzerhaubitze-2000 clearly prove this. Russia has none of these systems and will remain so in the near future.
Russia’s goal: to discredit weapons deliveries in the West
The importance of Western military aid is illustrated by Russia’s measures aimed at disrupting supply. Moscow is trying to discredit deliveries to Ukraine through various informational operations. These include fake news about Western weapons systems allegedly seized by Russia, exaggeration of the – no doubt – risks of the illegal arms trade, and many other campaigns.
But while Moscow is strong in intelligence operations, its precision military offensive capabilities are not so compelling: despite Russia’s repeated claims, there is not a single conclusively proven case that Russia was able to hit an incoming Western military shipment.
Western aid becomes more important in war
Over time, the relative importance of Western military aid, especially heavy weapons, increases. This is because Ukraine is increasingly losing its former Soviet arsenal, and most military industrial and repair facilities have been either damaged or destroyed by Russian attacks.
As a result, Ukraine cannot recoup its losses on its own. Thanks to the constant supply of Western weapons and equipment, the proportion of Western systems in the Ukrainian armed forces is constantly increasing; If all previously announced delivery commitments are met, about 30 percent of Ukraine’s heavy weapons will already come from the West.
West should plan future support now
Chancellor Olaf Scholz made reclaiming Ukrainian territory a goal in his latest government statement. For the next phase of this support, the West would have to constantly set the course in the direction of continued support.
Even if Ukraine manages to rebuild most of its military-industrial capabilities, it is likely that Ukraine will gradually switch to Western systems over the long term due to the undesirable nature of Russian-made weapons and the waning availability of Soviet-made systems.
This will not be a quick process. It took more than 30 years for the Central European states of the Warsaw Pact.
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I am Timothy Glover, a professional journalist and content creator. I specialize in writing and editing for news websites, specifically covering politics. I have been working as an author at News Unrolled for the past five years and have built up a reputation for producing quality content that is both informative and engaging.