Rolling out the big guns: NATO’s aid to Ukraine
The promise by NATO members Denmark and the Netherlands to provide advanced US-made F-16 jets to strengthen Kyiv’s Soviet-era air force is the latest evolution of the alliance’s aid to Ukraine since the war started in February 2022.
The US is by far the biggest provider of weapons to Ukraine at 42.8 billion euros, according to the German-based Kiel Institute for the World Economy’s Ukraine aid tracker in late May.
Kyiv’s next biggest military backers are Germany with 7.5 billion euros and the United Kingdom with 6.6 billion,
But the most generous countries in terms of GDP have been the three former Soviet states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
– From pistols to cruise missiles –
In the first month of Russia’s invasion, NATO allies sent Ukraine mostly defensive weapons but the list quickly expanded to include howitzers, multiple-rocket launchers and missile-defence systems.
As the war entered its second year, the weapons grew heavier.
Germany in February gave in to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s pleas to allow deliveries of its state-of-the-art Leopard tanks.
The US meanwhile delivered rocket-propelled precision bombs.
The UK announced it would send Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine, becoming the first country to provide longer-range weapons to Kyiv.
By the end of April, 230 western tanks and 1,550 armoured vehicles had been delivered according to NATO.
– Next: F-16s and cluster bombs –
In February this year, Zelensky began clamouring for Western warplanes to help provide air cover for Ukraine’s highly-anticipated counter-offensive.
After initial fears of escalating the war, US President Joe Biden in May gave the green light for Ukrainian pilots to be trained up on F16 fighter jets.
Washington also in July announced plans to supply Ukraine with controversial cluster munitions, despite condemnation from human rights groups.
The US justified the move as necessary to keep Russian forces from taking more territory.
Denmark and the Netherlands announced on August 20 that they would hand 61 F-16 fighter jets over to Ukraine once its pilots are trained to use them.
Training is by an 11-nation coalition and officials hope pilots will be ready by early 2024.
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.