How did NATO and the United States contribute to rebuilding the Ukrainian army?
Kiev- Since the beginning of the events of 2014 and the war that followed in eastern Ukraine, Kiev hastened to request Western countries’ technical and military support by providing them with the necessary devices, equipment, mechanisms and weapons, to repel “Russian aggression” and confront Moscow’s loyalists.
Soon the war prompted Ukraine to rebuild its entire army, depending on the aid of the West, which did not exclude any area needed by the new Ukrainian army.
The situation of the Ukrainian army before 2014 was “disastrous”, according to military expert Taras Chemut to Al Jazeera Net, adding that “the Ukrainian army was a symbolic image, its weapons were Soviet, the latest dating back to 1988 at best, and 99% of them need maintenance.”
The West and the rebuilding of the Ukrainian army
It may not be correct to say that the West built the Ukrainian army, but it is certain that it played a major role in this building, and raised its weight relative to its Russian counterpart in the regional balance of power.
This started with aid of a humanitarian nature, starting with foodstuffs, passing through medical equipment, ambulances and field hospitals, ending with helmets, protective jackets, military uniforms, and even sleeping bags and beds.
Then the support soon turned into a technical nature that included communications, reconnaissance, navigation and night vision equipment, radar stations, mine detection and clearance equipment, buses and SUVs.
It later developed into defensive and offensive systems that included various types of armored vehicles, especially the American-made HMMWV, observation patrol ships, unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, and some types of weapons and ammunition.
Exceptional American support
American aid stands out more than others among the European Union and the rest of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Out of the approximately $4 billion Washington has granted to Kiev since 2014, about $2.5 billion has been directed to support the military institution alone, and covered the costs of more than 500 type of equipment, weapons and munitions, while EU aid is mainly directed towards humanitarian aspects.
Military expert Taras Chmut explains this, saying that “some neighboring countries provided light weapons and ammunition, most notably Lithuania, but the United States – in practice – was the only one that met a large part of Ukraine’s need for advanced mechanisms and equipment outside the framework of NATO, because the NATO countries – You know – we are deeply divided on this.”
Chemot explained to Al-Jazeera Net that the United States, after overcoming the shock of the occupation of Crimea and the war in Donbass, and following the stability of the political situation in Ukraine in late 2014, gave the Ukrainian army about 250 four-wheel drive vehicles to transport personnel and soldiers, and then began in the middle of 2015 to provide it with 175 multi-tasking armored vehicles, in addition to To 5 “Island” naval reconnaissance boats, and a number of “Raven” drones for reconnaissance missions.
According to the expert, the most prominent qualitative aid that Ukraine received from the United States and did not receive from others are about 68 launchers, with 400 Javelin anti-armor missiles.
Purchase of weapons and joint ventures
In parallel with the support, Ukraine worked to buy combat and drone aircraft, and to build ships to compensate for the loss of most of its fleet after Russia took control of the Crimean coast.
From Turkey – which Kiev describes as a “strategic ally” – Ukraine bought 21 “Bayraktar TB2” drones, and plans to buy 4 planes in 2022, and recently opened a joint factory to produce and manufacture this plane on its territory.
From Paris, Ukraine bought a group of Airbus helicopters for the National Guard, and last March there was talk of the possibility of replacing its MiG-29s with French Rafale aircraft.
In the same month, the commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, Colonel Serhiy Drozdov, stated that his country is working to replace the Soviet fighters with Swedish fighters of the fourth generation, or the American “F-15”, and aspires to obtain the American fighter of the fifth generation “F-15”. -35″ (F-35) by 2035.
Ukraine is associated with Britain with a huge project worth about 1.7 billion pounds to design and build warships in Ukraine and Britain, rehabilitate Ukrainian shipbuilding enterprises, and build two bases for the Ukrainian naval forces.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has approved a plan to sell 16 Mark 6 military patrol boats to Ukraine, at a total cost of about $600 million.
Western-led exercises and maneuvers
Joint exercises and maneuvers are no less important than armaments, as they have played a major role in raising the capabilities of Ukrainian forces over the past 8 years, according to Ukrainian officials.
Ukraine conducts about 10 joint maneuvers annually with the United States, Britain and the rest of the “NATO” countries, and also participates in maneuvers and exercises outside the borders of its territory and territorial waters.
Among the most prominent and largest of these maneuvers are the “Rapid Trident” land maneuvers, and the “Naseem Al Bahr” maneuvers in the Black Sea basin.
In the Lviv region of western Ukraine, the Yavoriv base has been turned into a stationary training center for the Ukrainian army, which is mainly supervised by the United States.
For the first time since 2014, the Vinnytsia region (west of Kiev) witnessed Ukrainian-American air maneuvers last August.
For years, hundreds of Western experts, trainers and military personnel have been present on the territory of Ukraine, and Moscow says that among them are 4,000 American soldiers.
What has Ukraine achieved? What do you want from the West?
All of the above calls into question what Ukraine has achieved for itself in recent years, and what it seeks today from the West more than ever.
Military expert Taras Chmut answers that Ukraine “built a new army during the war period, and receives constant support in this framework from the United States and NATO, which is close to its membership,” he said.
The White House recently announced $750 million in security assistance to Kiev as part of the 2022 budget.
Chmut says that the request for Western support must continue as long as the war continues, and one of Ukraine’s priorities today is to obtain the following from its Western allies:
- Sophisticated combat aircraft, whether new or used, because they are – practically – missing from the Ukrainian forces, and the aircraft that Ukraine has is not comparable to the Russian air arsenal.
- Military ships, Ukraine has lost most of its naval capabilities, in exchange for the increased presence of Russian forces in the Black Sea.
- Specific or “lethal” weapons, which – according to the expert – are considered the most factors that provoke Russia’s anger and fears, such as Javelin missiles and Bayraktar aircraft.
- Advanced anti-missile systems, the importance of which began recently, after the crisis of the current military build-up near the Ukrainian border.