How much money has the West spent on the Ukraine war? | Russia-Ukraine War News
War has been raging in Ukraine since February 24. Without the support of the United States and the European Union, a sustained defense effort similar to the one the world has witnessed would likely have been inconceivable.
But how much support has Ukraine received and what difference has it made?
Just last week, US President Joe Biden pledged another $45 billion in support for Ukraine, a package Congress will now negotiate. If the proposal is approved, it would be the fourth US aid package for Ukraine and the total money allocated to Ukraine since February would be nearly $100 billion.
These staggering numbers have led Russian apologist voices like Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to claim that Ukraine has turned into a US-led proxy war against Russia. But it is not just the fringe of the Great Old Party that seems inclined to repeat Russian propaganda.
The British newspaper The Independent published a opinion piece by its US correspondent headlined: “It’s time to stop pretending that what’s happening in Ukraine is anything other than a US proxy war.”
Meanwhile, several international relations scholars and other experts in the field disagree.
“It’s clearly not a proxy war,” Vladimir Rauta, a professor of politics and international relations at the University of Reading, told Al Jazeera.
“Proxy wars are proxy wars, often waged covertly, deniably, and outside the bounds of international law. The US-Ukrainian partnership is a classic case of bilateral military and economic assistance,” he said.
“The only proxy [war] it was the one that Russia waged against Ukraine since 2014 when it began covertly supporting, training and helping separatist groups in the Donbas.”
War Expenditure Tracking
In addition to the US, Europe has paid its fair share for this economic-military partnership that Rauta refers to.
However, it is difficult to keep track of exactly how much money is allocated to Ukraine.
Fortunately, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), a German research institute, is able to provide fairly accurate figures based on its Ukraine Support Trackerwhich oversees military aid, humanitarian services and financial aid to Ukraine from the West.
However, calculating these numbers can be challenging, Andre Frank, an IfW economist, told Al Jazeera.
“The main encumbrances are the availability of information, especially official information, and the price assessments of items, especially military items. We solve the first one through diligent investigative work using a multitude of search mechanisms,” he said.
“In general, we take information from official government sources as given. When there is no official information available, or the statements do not allow a sufficient quantification of the donation, we complement with credible media reports.
One problem with this method is that official US or UK information on military aid can often be incomplete.
“Our work can only be as good as the [official] publicly published information, and our new measure indicates which countries provide good and transparent information and which do not,” Frank said.
“Finding good prices for military items is mostly resolved by relying on the contract value of the [Stockholm International Peace Research Institute] arms trade database, which allows calculation of average unit prices. We also stick to our self-set upper bound rule, as it allows us to use the prices of new goods so as not to underestimate the true value of bilateral support,” he added.
However, donor countries vary in terms of data transparency.
“Official and accessible US data is up-to-date and detailed, allowing for an accurate estimate of total military support and in-kind military support values,” Frank said.
“For EU member states, the picture is different. Eastern European, Baltic and Scandinavian countries are generally transparent in disclosing the number of items and the total value of military aid packages. In the same categories, countries like Spain, Italy and Portugal are very opaque and deliberately hide information,” he added.
United States providing the greatest support
Germany, Europe’s de facto leader, poses a particular challenge, mainly because Berlin has delivered military equipment from its stocks that have long since been decommissioned or decommissioned and therefore do not have a valid price assessment. at the moment.
For example, Germany supplies heavy weapons such as anti-tank equipment and anti-aircraft missiles, but also lighter weapons such as machine guns, hand grenades and other ammunition.
On the one hand, the military material comes from the stocks of the armed forces, or Bundeswehr, and, on the other hand, from the stocks of industry financed by the federal government.
Authorities provide a detailed description of the renditions on their website, albeit with a caveat.
“Countries like Germany provide a detailed list of the number of items promised and delivered, however, without an indication of the value,” Frank said.
“This makes our job incredibly challenging, as some of the items shipped from Germany come from Bundeswehr stocks, which have been in service for over 10 years, making it nearly impossible to find good price estimates. “, said.
Unsurprisingly, the US has provided the most military support to Ukraine by a significant margin, according to the IfW numbers.
“The largest contributor of military aid is by far the United States, with current commitments of 22.86 billion euros (24.37 billion dollars). The UK has committed the second largest amount, €4.13 billion ($4.4 billion),” Frank said.
In fact, the UK has been one of the largest arms suppliers to Ukraine.
The London government has delivered or promised Ukraine, among other things, M270 multiple rocket launchers, thousands of anti-tank weapons, hundreds of short-range missiles, armored vehicles and some Starstreak anti-aircraft systems.
Shortly after taking office, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also promised 125 more anti-aircraft missiles.
Meanwhile, Germany ranks third behind the US and UK in terms of military aid outflows, with 2.34 billion euros ($2.49 billion) to date.
London and Berlin are responsible for most of the European support. According to the IfW, EU member states have provided a total of 8.61 billion euros (9.18 billion dollars) for military aid.
Western aid has ‘undeniable impact’
The commitment of the Europeans does not end with military support.
“If we include the European Fund for Peace, a military reimbursement scheme administered by the European Union, total EU military support increases by €3.1 billion ($3.3 billion) to a total of €11.71 billion ($12.480 millions of dollars). This includes commitments through November 20,” Frank noted.
But it is also interesting to look at the large totals of aid to Ukraine: that is, all the humanitarian aid, financial aid, and military items provided by the states that support Western Ukraine as a whole.
With their decision to help Ukraine from January with another 18 billion euros ($19 billion), EU states and European Union institutions are outpacing the US in aid to Ukraine .
Europe will then support Kyiv with a total of 52 billion euros ($55 billion) compared to 48 billion euros ($51 billion) from the United States for “military, financial and humanitarian aid,” the IfW said.
Some numbers inevitably tempt one to look for comparisons where the world has previously supported a besieged nation. However, it’s hard to find a coherent precedent, said Rauta of the University of Reading.
“I think there is a general search for analogies that would capture the current situation, but most will be imperfect. Instead of thinking comparatively and partly wrongly, one should focus on continued support for Ukraine,” she said.
“Their undeniable impact, from intelligence sharing to the recently approved $1.8 billion package, has enabled Ukraine to resist Russian aggression in ways few expected.”
Faced with these huge sums, pro-Russian voices spread arguments more than usual to attack economic aid as ill-advised or warmongering.
Too often, it is argued that aid to Ukraine is disproportionately larger than Russia’s defense budget.
However, according to the latest intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defense, Putin has pledged more than 116 billion pounds ($140 billion) for his war in Ukraine in 2023 alone, while a recent analysis by the intelligence agency Reuters news put Russia’s total defense and security budget for 2023 at $155 billion.
It remains to be seen whether the united front against Russian aggression can stand strong, particularly under a Republican-led House of Representatives in the US.
“On the one hand, the balance of success-defeat is still to be decided in favor of neither of the two countries, each month advances with its own logic. Ukrainian territorial advances are combined with Russian attacks on infrastructure, and there is talk of a new Russian attempt to retake Kyiv with a new mobilization between January and February,” Rauta said.
“On the other hand, Ukraine’s firm determination to repel Russia’s aggression is matched by Russia’s lack of commitment to peace,” he added.
“Whatever 2023 brings, the Russian pretense of seeking peace will only be pursued as a way to buy time, mobilize and regroup. One can hope that 2023 will bring more support to Ukraine from the transatlantic community which is facing its most serious security issue in decades,” he said.