Friday, February 3, 2023

Battle Of Equals? Western Military Aid To Ukraine Nearly Equals Russia’s Total Defense Budget For 2022: State Media

Over ten months after Russia launched an invasion in Ukraine, the Western military aid constantly pouring from NATO countries to help Kyiv hold fort has touched unprecedented numbers. It is now three times Ukraine’s defense budget for the ongoing financial year.

More significant, however, is the fact that the collective Western military aid will soon close the gap with Russia’s 2022 defense budget, as reported by the state news agency TASS.

Since the beginning of Russia’s special military operation, Ukraine has received over $48.5 billion in military assistance from the West, which, according to TASS calculations, is nearly equal to Russia’s 2022 defense budget.

Moreover, almost 95% of Russia’s defense spending, which totaled $51.1 billion in 2016, was allocated to Ukraine by the West.

Building upon the official statements of donor countries and media estimates, the report stated that the total amount of aid that Ukraine has received from Western states and International Organizations since the commencement of Russia’s “special operation” is believed to be more than $150.8 billion.

Since late February 2022, total Western funding to Ukraine has been nearly three times greater than the predicted $55.5 billion Ukrainian budget.

This observation aligns with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s previous assertion that “almost all major NATO nations’ military capabilities and capacities are today being aggressively exploited against Russia.”

Further, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu claimed that his country was not engaged in battle in Ukraine with Kyiv’s military but rather with the “collective West.”

The timing of the TASS calculation is worth noting. The report comes days after the United States, the biggest donor of military aid to Ukraine, unveiled another military package worth a whopping $3.75 billion.

Earlier, reports in the Western media had also accounted for the military aid provided to Ukraine by NATO countries. Over 50 billion dollars has been directed by the US Congress alone, which has shadowed its previous assistance to countries like Israel and Afghanistan by a mammoth margin.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and US President Joe Biden

Other top military aid providers to Ukraine have been countries like Germany, Poland, and the United Kingdom, which have pledged several billion dollars worth of equipment to Ukraine in the last ten months.

Moreover, countries like Estonia and Latvia have gone so far as to pledge aid to Ukraine that is even bigger than their economies, writes the think tank Council for Foreign Relations (CFR).

According to many Western experts, Western military support has been crucial to Ukraine’s defense and counteroffensive against Russia. In this article, we look back at some game-changing big-ticket military equipment delivered to Ukraine or in the pipeline.

Big-Ticket Weapons For Ukraine

Hand-Held Missiles

The first American weapons widely used on the battlefield were hand-held anti-tank missiles and rockets, including Javelin anti-armor systems and Stinger air defense missiles.

The cost for a single Javelin missile is $197,884, while the cost of firing one Stinger is about $38,000. At the same time, the UK started sending its Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (NLAW), which costs roughly $33,000 per shot.

Javelin Weapon System | Raytheon Missiles & Defense
Javelin Weapon System | Raytheon Missiles & Defense

Several thousand NATO shoulder-mounted missiles have been sent to Ukraine, with more supplies underway. In the early weeks of the conflict, dense concentrations of guided missiles and anti-tank rockets in the hands of Ukrainian troops and even civilian volunteers ambushed Russian armored columns numerous times, forcing the Kremlin to give up ambitions to seize the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv by March.

Howitzers & Caliber Shells

One of the most effective and long-term Western contributions to Ukraine’s resistance and counteroffensive against Russia has been the 155mm US M777 howitzers.

The estimated cost of M777 Howitzer is about $114 million. More than 140 of these have been delivered to Ukraine by the United States alone. Countries like the UK purchased, repaired, and sent several M-109 Howitzers to Ukraine, costing about $340 million per unit.

M777 howitzer - Wikipedia
M777 howitzer – Wikipedia

Countries like Great Britain, Canada, Germany, and Australia have also sent their 155mm Howitzers.

In addition to the Howitzer guns, millions of 155mm caliber shells have been dispatched to Kyiv in the last ten months by the US, the Czech Republic, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, and other significant NATO states.

The cost of each shell varies, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Rocket Launchers

The West’s most game-changing equipment is the Multiple Rocket launch systems, including the US HIMARS, the UK’s M270 MLRS, and Germany’s MARS II, an upgraded version of the M270 MLRS.

The truck-mounted HIMARS, over 20 of which have been delivered to Kyiv, is widely regarded as the most effective long-range strike system in the Ukrainian army arsenal.

HIMARS | Lockheed Martin
HIMARS | Lockheed Martin

For perspective, every unit of HIMARs cost roughly $5.1 million in 2014, and the M270 MLRS approximately costs over $2.3 million. Additionally, the West has sent vast quantities of ammunition to be fired from these systems supplementing the costs.

Air Defense Systems

One of the most significant contributions to Ukraine from NATO countries has been air defense systems, as Russia has unabatedly rained down missiles and kamikaze drones on Ukraine.

The US and Germany recently announced they were sending one battery each of PAC-3 Patriot missile defense systems, costing about $1.1 billion: $400 million for the system and $690 million for the missiles. This is by far the most expensive system pledged by the West.

Taiwan and US renew Patriot-3 missile service contract
File: Patriot-3 Missile

In addition, the US has sent its National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) anti-aircraft missile systems while Germany has sent the most advanced IRIS-T air defense systems. These two systems were the first Western-origin air defense to land in Ukraine.

As discussed widely, these systems are relatively expensive. One NASAMS battery costs $23 million, with one AMRAAM missile costing more than $1.2 million.

The IRIS-T is even more costly, and an IRIS-T missile costs about $430,000, which is 20 times more than the cost of the Iranian-made kamikaze drone that it has been shooting down.

These are just a handful of the many air defense systems the West provides to Ukraine. As Russian missile strikes continue, more of these will probably be freed from the western coffers and dispatched to Kyiv.

Tanks & Armored Vehicles

Major tanks provided by NATO to Ukraine have been soviet-era T-72 tanks operated by Russia. East European countries have generously delivered these tanks to Ukraine, while some were purchased by the US to be diverted to the battlefield in Kyiv.

For example, the US sent 45 Soviet-era T-72B tanks in 2022 to Ukraine. However, all NATO allies have stopped short of sending Western battle tanks to the embattled country for fear of escalation.

The US, France, and Germany recently announced that they were delivering Infantry Fighting Vehicles to Ukraine. While the US has pledged the Bradley IFV, Germany has earmarked its Marder IFV, and France has announced the delivery of its AMX-10RC designated as a Light tank in Paris.

Marder IFV (via Twitter)

The average cost of these armored vehicles and the rockets/missiles integrated into them will likely run into hundreds of millions of dollars, considering that a sizeable number of these vehicles are supplied.

Notably, these are only a handful of the total equipment trickling down as aid to Ukraine. At a time when Russia has demonstrated that it does not intend to dial down its offensive and Ukraine has decided to wrest back all occupied territories, the aid is only set to rise exponentially.

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