In Real Terms NATO Aid to Ukraine Amounts to Doing Nothing

This article originally appeared at V berloge u Lešego (Russian blog). It was translated by Kristina Rus at Fort Russ

Loud talk, without load deeds.

I can’t characterize NATO’s position in any other way. A complete mess. The Secretary General says one thing, the supreme military commander something entirely opposite. While the heads of NATO member states say something different altogether.

Which means that NATO has officially adopted a very curious position. Something along the lines of  “we, as alliance will not give Ukraine any aid, but individual member states may make their own decisions. Any decisions.”

Officially that position is formulated as follows. The matter of arms supplies to Ukraine will not be raised at NATO level. This was announced by NATO SecGen Stoltenberg in an interview with Kommersant.

So the simple conclusion is that Ukraine will get no weapons. Instructors will appear. But only as instructors, and only very far away from the front line. Not that there will be much use from them, given their “effectiveness” at training Iraqis or Afghans.

No successes anywhere. US military assistance is what is preventing their collapse. But as soon as the Americans start to “leave”, everything falls apart. The story of ISIS success is a perfect example.

Why would anyone expect something different? For example, German or US tanks? Which cost $6.2 million apiece?

During the summer of 2014 UAF had 600 perfectly fine tanks, while the militia had none. Did that help the UAF? On the other hand, let’s assume the UAF somehow could train its crews to operate NATO tanks. But how many would it expect to receive?

The US has a total of 8725 M1 Abrams MBTs. UAF would need 600-700 vehicles to replenish their units. Does anyone seriously expect the US will simply give Ukraine 10% of its MBT fleet, which would cost $4.3 billion?

Or perhaps 600 Leopard’s from the Bundeswehr, out of the total store of 1048 vehicles? There are also the French Leclercs, which total 776 [that’s the total number produced—the French army purchased only 400 of them]. Would France be willing to transfer virtually all of its heavy armor to Ukraine? Does anyone seriously believe that?

This does not even address the question of fuel and lubricants, which Ukraine likewise has in short supply, so that too would have to be imported, in other words, bought using hard currency which Ukraine doesn’t have. As a reminder, a single round of tank gun ammunition costs $25 thousand. In some cases it may be as low as $6-8 thousand. Still, that means a full load of 40 rounds costs a quarter of a million dollars minimum. And a single load can be easily expended in a single day. Even if you stretch it out over a week, it still means Ukraine would have to spend 150 million a week for tank ammunition. Or 450 million a month.

So I understand the NATO SecGen and the US president perfectly well. Supporting democracy is one thing, but are we going to gift them $4.3 billion worth of tanks, and then continue giving them half a billion a month worth of ammunition? For what?

Just to watch as the Novorossia “radishes” blow up the expensive NATO tanks and then make selfies with the wrecks in the background? Well, to hell with Ukraine. And to hell with the money. But who will buy our “armored coffins” after that kind of advertising? Even the much praised and invincible Abrams tanks turned out not to be the wonderwaffles [a pun on the German word “wunderwaffe”, meaning wonder weapon] their marketing claimed. Even in the hands of skilled US crews. To say nothing of local crews. While the T-72s spat upon by the Western media are operating quite effectively. Even in the hands of local crews.

So would France want to turn over its entire tank fleet to Ukraine, only to then watch all potential buyers steer clear of them in the future? No thanks. But that’s politics. Loud words are no less important than loud deeds.

Therefore when it comes to words the entire Western world is lined up shoulder to shoulder, full of readiness to help, support, strengthen, and supply. But when it comes to deeds…NATO already said noooo, not us.

But hey, if individual countries want to help, that’s fine because democracy is sacred. We just can’t see any individual members do anything serious.

For example, there have been many discussions about the Polish Dana152mm SP howitzers [actually a Czech design, though also used by the Polish Army] that have started last year, all these talks and so far not a single Dana had been seen in Ukraine. Not even a single blurry photograph. There are photos of everything else. Even of drunk US instructors asleep on the grass. But not of the Danas. So it would seem there no Danas in Ukraine. There were discussions, but that’s as far as things got.

In conclusion, it seems to me that Kiev’s hopes to get Western weapons and other “state of the art” stuff are about as likely to be fulfilled as the expectations that the EU will immediately open its borders to Ukrainians in February 2014.

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