Global Watch | Cold War 2.0: How US and Europe are weaponising Ukraine

  sophia sophia   5621   13 Jul, 2023 

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This proxy war between Russia and the US-Europe alliance would continue for much longer than we had expected as neither of them is ready to back down The United States’ decision to give cluster munitions to Ukraine is facing severe criticism as these munitions leave many ‘dud’ explosives on the ground which would detonate much later. These are great hazards to the civilian population. Russia, though, has also been accused of using such munitions in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Though the US and many of its allies remain divided over the military support to Ukraine against Russia, it is clear that Ukraine continues to get support for its war efforts from the Western world. It is sad to see how billions of dollars which could have been used for the welfare of the people are being squandered away in this war by all sides. A look at the pattern of aid to Ukraine also indicates unequivocally that it is a proxy war between Russia and the US and its European allies. Ukraine is just a pawn in the game. Germany-based Kiel Institute for the World Economy has built an interesting database of military, financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. This database is known as the Ukraine Support Tracker. It lists and quantifies military, financial and humanitarian aid promised by governments to Ukraine from 24 January, 2022 onwards. It covers 41 countries, specifically the EU member states, and other members of the G7, as well as Australia, South Korea, Turkey, Norway, New Zealand, Switzerland, China, Taiwan, India and Iceland. This tracker tracks government-to-government transfers only as reliable data for private aid is currently not available. The latest update from this tracker covers a period up to 6 July, 2023. According to this tracker, “….Analysis of relative aid composition over time underpins the trend towards military aid. While in the first 10 months of the war military and financial aid have been fairly balanced, since October 2022 the share of military aid among the fresh bilateral commitments has steadily increased. In the beginning of 2023, over half of the newly pledged aid was of military nature. In April and May of 2023, this even increased to over 70 percent.” It is interesting to note that while the share of military aid in the overall assistance package to Ukraine is increasing, the total amount of new bilateral support commitments to Ukraine by other countries has been low in spring 2023 compared to previous periods. From 25 February this year to 31 May, the value of all recorded commitments to Ukraine increased by €13 billion to a total of about €165 billion; out of this almost €9 billion were for military aid. While the US remains the biggest contributor of military aid to Ukraine spending around $46 billion in providing military assistance to Ukraine, Germany is now the second biggest contributor of military aid in absolute terms after it increased its military pledges by €3.26 billion, or 76 per cent, to a total of €7.5 billion. The EU increased the European Peace Facility (EPF) efforts with two additional tranches worth €1 billion each to a total of €5.6 billion. For the entire year, Denmark promised military support worth €1 billion, including additional Leopard-2 tanks. Poland pledged two new additional military aid packages worth a total of €581 million. Incidentally, EPF is an off-budget fund intended for the reimbursement of member countries for lethal and non-lethal military aid to Ukraine. The Council of the European Union approved the creation of this fund in February 2022 to finance arms and equipment for the Ukrainian army. According to a research paper published by Keil Institute, initially, a budget of €500 million was approved, but it was soon doubled to €1 billion within a month. Currently, it stands at €5.6 billion as mentioned above. These funds do not flow directly to the Ukrainian government but are instead used over a longer period to reimburse EU member countries for the expenses of sending weapons to Ukraine. Since October 2022, the fund has also started financing the maintenance and repair of military equipment donated to Ukraine under the EPF. Analysing the US military aid to Ukraine, Jonathan Masters and Will Merrow said in ‘How Much Aid has the US sent Ukraine’ (published by US-based think tank Council on Foreign Relations(CFR), “Much of the aid has gone toward providing weapons systems, training, and intelligence that Ukrainian commanders need to defend against Russia, which has one of the world’s most powerful militaries…Seventeen months into the war, the Biden administration had provided or agreed to provide Ukraine with a long list of defence capabilities, including Abrams battle tanks, anti-aircraft missiles, coastal defence ships, and advanced surveillance and radar systems.” The latest to this list is ‘Cluster Munitions’. From January 2022 to 31 May, 2023, the total aid provided by the US to Ukraine was around $76.8 billion. Out of this, humanitarian aid comprised $3.9 billion, financial aid through budgetary support stood at $26.4 billion and military aid was $46.6 billion. Over all the US aid to Ukraine comprised 0.33 per cent of its GDP. In absolute terms, it is the highest aid that the US has provided to any country since 1960. The impact of US aid to Ukraine can be seen in its military budget. Its defence spending touched an all-time high at $877 billion. This was $71 billion more than the previous year’s budget. The US defence budget is more than the combined budget of the 10 biggest spenders on defence – China, Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, UK, Germany, France, South Korea, Japan and Ukraine. That is an indication that the US would continue to fund the war in Ukraine without feeling much impact and it would be well aided by its European allies. Even small European countries like Latvia and Estonia and many relatively less affluent East European countries are now contributing a significant share of their GDP to strengthen Ukraine’s war chest. On the other hand, Russia under Vladimir Putin wouldn’t back down as it has been used to fighting wars since the collapse of Soviet Russia in 1991. Over the last three decades, Russia has fought two wars in Chechnya, one in Georgia; it intervened in Syria and annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 from Ukraine. This was in retaliation to the ouster of Kremlin-backed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych at the behest of the Western world. Conclusion This proxy war between Russia and the US-Europe alliance would continue for much longer than we had expected as neither of them is ready to back down. With no shortage of ammunition and weapons on both sides, Ukraine would continue to be weaponised and used as a pawn against Russia. This is Cold War 2.0.

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