Leadership: Europe Takes the Lead in Ukraine


October 24, 2023: This year the EU (European Union) replaced the United States as the major supplier of aid for Ukraine by already spending $14.3 billion with $4.7 billion more to come before the end of the year. The U.S. contributed $10.9 billion. In 2022 the Americans provided $11.98 billion compared to $7.96 billion for the EU. One reason for the disparity is that the United States supplied most of the weapons and munitions simply because the Americans had more available to send and because the American defense manufacturers produced much more than defense firms in Europe.

Ukraine still needs military aid, and the EU and United States are supplying all they can. The Ukrainian demand for weapons and munitions made the EU aware that their production ability was inadequate, because of long-dependent Americans companies to supply weapons. While the U.S. imports some weapons from Europe, most of the trade is from the United States to the EU.

Since the Cold War ended in 1991, EU nations cut their defense budgets sharply in order to enjoy a “peace dividend”. That lasted until about a decade ago when Russia once more became a military threat, at least with Ukraine. Part of the reason for that was that Ukraine wanted to join the EU economic union and the NATO military alliance. Russia did not approve of that and expected Ukraine to rely on Russia rather than the West. That was the initial reason for Russia invading Ukraine in early 2022. When that invasion failed and turned into an expensive mistake, Russia changed its attitude and told the Russian people that they were fighting in Ukraine to halt NATO aggression. Yet NATO was and still is a mutual defensive alliance and that's why Ukraine wants to be a member. Existing NATO members agree, and Ukraine will become a member once the fighting is over. That won’t happen until all Russian military forces are gone and that is currently happening.

It may be another year before all the Russian troops are gone. Popular support for the war has declined in Russia, partly because it is an expensive failure, and most Russians are experiencing the economic impact. Consumer prices are up, and more Russians are unemployed. The war effort has been expensive for Russia in terms of cash as well as casualties. Economic sanctions made it difficult to import items from the West or get good prices for oil, the major Russian export. The Russian government says it is dealing with the sanctions, but that is not the same as not having to deal with them at all.

Meanwhile the EU has taken the lead in providing economic aid for Ukraine and providing investments for joint EU-Ukrainian enterprises. Ukraine has an industrial sector that suffered a lot of damage since the Russians invaded. Russia continues to attack economic targets with missiles. Russia lost its war in Ukraine and is determined to do as much economic damage as possible before the war is over. That means EU and American economic air are important for Ukrainian efforts to rebuild the economy and repair the damage the Russians have done and are still inflicting.

Ukraine has also attacked enterprises inside Russia, especially those essential for supporting the war effort. Ukraine mainly uses unmanned aircraft (drones or UAVs) for these attacks, which often succeed at hitting targets deep inside Russia. The targets include fuel storage centers and warehouses containing Russian weapons and munitions. Ukraine also attacks less explosive targets like factories that produce key components for weapons.

Another problem for Russia is that they are isolated. No one is sending any economic aid to Russia. Their only allies are Iran and North Korea, another two outcast nations also suffering from sanctions. Meanwhile Ukraine continues to receive billions in economic and military aid. This leads more Russians to wonder what they are being impoverished for. A growing number of Russian leaders have noticed that, but Vladimir Putin is still in charge, and he does not want peace and prosperity for Russia, he wants to punish Ukraine and the West. That is not working, and Putin is running out of excuses to justify the cost for Russia and so many Russians.




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