“Loud Talk, Not Loud Deeds”–NATO aid to Ukraine

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2/16/2015

NATO-Ukraine Relationship: What is the best way of doingnothing?

By Alex Leshy

Translated from Russian by J.Hawk

I can’t characterize NATO’s position in any other way. A
complete mess. The Secretary General says one thing, the supreme military
commander something entirely opposite. While the heads of NATO member states
say something different altogether. Which means that NATO has officially
adopted a very curious position. Something along the lines of  “we, as alliance will not give Ukraine any
aid, but individual member states may make their own decisions. Any decisions.”

Officially that position is formulated as follows. The
matter of arms supplies to Ukraine will not be raised at NATO level. This was
announced by NATO SecGen Stoltenberg in an interview with Kommersant.

So the simple conclusion is that Ukraine will get no
weapons. Instructors will appear. But only as instructors, and only very far
away from the front line. Not that there will be much use from them, given
their “effectiveness” at training Iraqis or Afghans. No successes anywhere. US
military assistance is what is preventing their collapse. But as soon as the
Americans start to “leave”, everything falls apart. The story of ISIS success
is a perfect example.

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Why would anyone expect something different? For example,
German or US tanks? Which cost $6.2 million apiece?

During the summer of 2014 UAF had 600 perfectly fine tanks, while
the militia had none. Did that help the UAF? On the other hand, let’s assume
the UAF somehow could train its crews to operate NATO tanks. But how many would
it expect to receive? The US has a total of 8725 M1 Abrams MBTs. UAF would need
600-700 vehicles to replenish their units. Does anyone seriously expect the US will
simply give Ukraine 10% of its MBT fleet, which would cost $4.3 billion? Or
perhaps 600 Leopard’s from the Bundeswehr, out of the total store of 1048
vehicles? There are also the French Leclercs, which total 776 [that’s the total
number produced—the French army purchased only 400 of them]. Would France be
willing to transfer virtually all of its heavy armor to Ukraine? Does anyone
seriously believe that?

This does not even address the question of fuel and lubricants,
which Ukraine likewise has in short supply, so that too would have to be
imported, in other words, bought using hard currency which Ukraine doesn’t
have. As a reminder, a single round of tank gun ammunition costs $25 thousand.
In some cases it may be as low as $6-8 thousand. Still, that means a full load
of 40 rounds costs a quarter of a million dollars minimum. And a single load
can be easily expended in a single day. Even if you stretch it out over a week,
it still means Ukraine would have to spend 150 million a week for tank
ammunition. Or 450 million a month.

So I understand the NATO SecGen and the US president
perfectly well. Supporting democracy is one thing, but are we going to gift
them $4.3 billion worth of tanks, and then continue giving them half a billion
a month worth of ammunition? For what? 
Just to watch as the Novorossia “radishes” blow up the expensive NATO tanks
and then make selfies with the wrecks in the background? Well, to hell with
Ukraine. And to hell with the money. But who will buy our “armored coffins”
after that kind of advertising? Even the much praised and invincible Abrams
tanks turned out not to be the wonderwaffles [a pun on the German word “wunderwaffe”,
meaning wonder weapon] their marketing claimed. Even in the hands of skilled US
crews. To say nothing of local crews. While the T-72s spat upon by the Western
media are operating quite effectively. Even in the hands of local crews.

So would France want to turn over its entire tank fleet to
Ukraine, only to then watch all potential buyers steer clear of them in the
future. No thanks. But that’s politics. Loud words are no less important than
loud deeds. Therefore when it comes to words the entire Western world is lined
up shoulder to shoulder, full of readiness to help, support, strengthen, and
supply. But when it comes to deeds…NATO already said noooo, not us. But hey, if
individual countries want to help, that’s fine because democracy is sacred. We
just can’t see any individual members do anything serious. For example, there
have been many discussions about the Polish Dana152mm SP howitzers [actually a
Czech design, though also used by the Polish Army] that have started last year,
all these talks and so far not a single Dana had been seen in Ukraine. Not even
a single blurry photograph. There are photos of everything else. Even of drunk
US instructors asleep on the grass. But not of the Danas. So it would seem
there no Danas in Ukraine. There were discussions, but that’s as far as things
got.

In conclusion, it seems to me that Kiev’s hopes to get
Western weapons and other “state of the art” stuff are about as likely to be
fulfilled as the expectations that the EU will immediately open its borders to
Ukrainians in February 2014.

J.Hawk’s Comment: I could only add that NATO countries have
no guarantees the equipment they supply would not end on the international arms
market. Which would be an even greater embarrassment than seeing it being
destroyed on the Donbass.

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