Europe’s powers gave Ukraine no new military pledges in July, data shows

Throughout all of July, Europe’s six largest countries offered Ukraine no new bilateral military commitments, according to new data — the first month that had happened since Russia invaded in February.

The revelation is a sign that despite historic shifts in European defense policy — which have seen once reluctant countries like France and Germany ship arms to Ukraine — military aid to Ukraine may be waning just as Kyiv launches a crucial counteroffensive.

The fresh data, set for release on Thursday, comes from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, which has been maintaining a Ukraine Support Tracker throughout the war. It illustrates a point Ukrainian military officials and politicians have been repeatedly making: That major European powers are not keeping up with the military aid coming from the U.K., Poland and the U.S. Military specialists and some members of European Parliament have increasingly echoed the point recently.

Christoph Trebesch, head of the team compiling the Ukraine Support Tracker, said the organization’s data showed European military aid commitments for Ukraine have been on a downward trend since the end of April.

“Despite the war entering a critical phase, new aid initiatives have dried up,” he said.

Western allies did meet last week in Cophenhagen to gather pledges for boosting Ukraine’s military, amassing €1.5 billion in commitments. But Trebesch, who said his team is still analyzing the numbers, cautioned the figure “is meager compared to what was raised in earlier conferences.”

Trebesch argued that European countries should be considering the Ukraine war as more akin to the eurozone crisis or the coronavirus pandemic, two events that promoted the Continent to funnel hundreds of billions into emergency funding measures.

“When you compare the speed at which the checkbook came out and the size of the money that was delivered, compared to what is on offer for Ukraine, it is tiny in comparison,” he said.

Trebesch pointed to the EU’s pandemic recovery fund, which spans roughly €800 billion in loans and grants. Overall European aid to Ukraine thus far is a small fraction of that.

“I would say it surprisingly little considering what is at stake,” he said.

Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks recently told POLITICO that countries like France and Germany must do more for Ukraine’s fight against Russia.

“If we are wanting the war to end as soon as possible, they need to ask themselves, are they doing enough?” he said.

Pabriks called for European nations to give proportionally at a level similar to several Central European countries, pointing specifically to Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Former Estonian defense chief Riho Terras, now a European Parliament member, said Europe needs “to wake up,” arguing there will be no peace until victory against Russia.

“Hundreds are dying every day, not just soldiers but women and children,” he said. “People don’t really understand, we are at war.”

Germany, in particular, has faced pointed allegations that it is moving too slowly to implement much-touted tank swaps with European neighbors, allowing those countries to then send their Soviet-era tanks to Ukraine. Berlin has defended its approach and repeatedly pointed to the regular arms shipments it is authorizing for Ukraine.

Daniel Fiott, a European defense analyst at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, said pledges mean nothing if they do not make it to the field.

“Ukraine needs hardware, not hot air,” he said.

Fiott argued the coming weeks and months will test Europe’s political and economic credibility.

“We should hope that Europe’s arms manufacturers can keep up with the growing demand, but we should equally hope that governments do not hinder deliveries when military equipment becomes available,” he said.

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