Thirty days ago, U.S. President Joe Biden announced nearly half a billion dollars of U.S. military aid to Ukraine. On March 20, the U.S. pledged another new military aid package worth $350 million. All this support is in addition to the U.S. Congressional approval of over $112 Billion in 2022.
Additionally, the United States has also contributed $117 billion to the International Monetary fund (IMF). This figure represents 17.5% of the IMF’s support. Last Wednesday (22 March) the IMF, considered the global lender of last resort, agreed to a support package for Ukraine of $15.6 billion. This loan which still needs to be signed off by the IMF’s executive board is groundbreaking, as it is the first such support for a country at war.
Europe Complains About U.S. Levels of Support for Ukraine
So, what is the problem? Even though the U.S. is the IMF’s largest shareholder, and the U.S. has contributed more to Ukraine in aid and military support than any other country, according to some European countries, the U.S. has not done enough.
Yesterday, the news headlines from Germany read, “Why is the U.S. sending ‘downgraded’ weaponry to Ukraine?” According to the German press, the howitzers have no GPS and rocket launchers are restricted to short-range. Therefore, the U.S. is sending Ukraine weapons with critical limitations. Why? According to the report, U.S. officials are trying to avoid a confrontation with Russia.
Critical of the current situation, Germany states Europe is promising Leopard 2 battle tanks from Norway, and MiG-29 fighter jets from Slovakia with Ukraine receiving pledges for heavy weapons from allies almost daily. The rub, “most recent pledges from the U.S. do not include M1 Abrams main battle tanks previously promised.”
But the German report falls short of clearly stating the that the U.S. is planning to send Kyiv the Abrams main battle tank in its more advanced M1A2 configuration in a few months, rather than immediately sending older A1 version that the military has in storage.
The 31 tanks slated for Ukraine this fall will not include the secret armor that makes the M1A2 so lethal. Current U.S. federal policy forbids the export of Abrams with classified armor packages used by the U.S. military, and therefore currently strips the vehicles of this armor before selling them to other countries.
However, the M1A2 version that the Ukrainians will receive has more sophisticated optics, controls, and redesigned commander’s weapon station than the M1. Also included is an independent thermal viewer, allowing the commander to independently scan for targets in all weather and battlefield conditions.
budgets, Unity, and Defeating Russia
Gustav Gressel, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told the German press that stripping the M1A2 is not unusual. “Ukraine is receiving the export variant of the Abrams, the same ones that are used in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq,” Gressel said. He added that the armor is comparable to that of the older German Leopard 2A4 tanks that Norway and Poland are delivering to Ukraine and the Abrams is ” a good battle tank…superior to Russian tanks in terms of handling.”
According to the Bundesregierung government website, Germany has provided funding for security initiative of two billion Euros in 2022 and 2.2 billion Euros projected for 2023. The website states funds are primarily to support Ukraine but will also be used to finance Germany’s increased mandatory contributions to the European Peace Facility (EPF). In turn some of this funding will reimburse EU member states for costs incurred to them in providing support for Ukraine. A complete list of support provided by Germany can be found at the Bundesregierung website.
Bottom line. In-fighting between countries may be problematic, as it may signal to Putin that resolve may be weakening. In turn he may believe he has a chance of winning the war. Further, Germany believes any restraint in weapons delivery to the Ukraine is a signal to him that we are not serious.
Europe is rightfully concerned. However, do the numbers paint the same picture?