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EU urgently faces decision to double military support for Ukraine

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The European Union is compelled to double its military assistance to Ukraine, bridging a critical void created by the prolonged obstruction of new aid by the United States Congress, warns a report from the Germany-based Kiel Institute. As existing funding dries up and US House Republicans withhold authorization for $60 billion in new military aid, Ukrainian commanders and Western officials stress that Ukrainian troops are dangerously low on ammunition.

The Kiel Institute’s report, released on Friday, highlights the uncertainty surrounding additional US military aid in 2024. Up until January 15, 2024, the United States has dispatched 42.2 billion euros ($45.4 billion) in military aid to Ukraine between February 2022 and December 2023. This averaged around two billion euros per month.

In contrast, the European Union and its 27 members, despite pledging 49.7 billion euros in military aid since the war’s onset, have only delivered or earmarked 35.2 billion euros. Christoph Trebesch, head of the Ukraine Support Tracker and Research Director at the Kiel Institute, underscores the urgent need for Europe to at least double its current military support, stating, “This is a challenge, but just a question of political will.”

The total aid pledged to Ukraine since February 2022 amounts to 265.1 billion euros, encompassing financial, military, and humanitarian aid. The EU and its member states are the primary contributors with 144.1 billion euros, followed by the United States with 67.7 billion and the United Kingdom with 15.7 billion. However, there is a substantial disparity between pledges and actual disbursements, particularly evident in the EU’s allocation of only 77.2 billion euros, spread over several years.

The disruption in US military aid coincides with the ramp-up to the 2024 presidential election, where Donald Trump’s potential return to power poses a significant threat to aid continuation. Trump, known for opposing support to Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, has previously wielded his influence to quash a US border reform bill that would have included additional aid to Ukraine.

Notably, European unity faces challenges, with divisions evident in Hungary, where leader Viktor Orban hesitated for months before authorizing an additional 50 billion euros in aid for Ukraine. Slovakia’s new populist Prime Minister, Robert Fico, also disrupted a planned major arms delivery.

The evolving situation on the battlefield is reflected in the West’s contributions, transitioning from light weapons to sophisticated tanks and fighter jets. Despite obstacles, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway, with approval from Washington, are gearing up to deliver 61 American F-16 fighter jets, showcasing a commitment to bolster Ukraine’s defense capabilities.

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