Arms race likely to increase in Ukraine, Russia and Europe – rts.ch
While Ukraine demands more heavy weapons to be able to “win the war”, some Western allies have promised deliveries. But Europe’s ability to support Kyiv without finding itself raises questions. Meanwhile, Moscow is also working to increase its weapons production.
If fighting stalls in eastern Ukraine, the line moves between Western kyivists, who have long been reluctant to ship heavier weapons. In early January, France, Germany and the United States specifically pledged to send light armored tanks. “The recent promises were important, and I hope there will be more in the near future,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday.
Because, from a defensive posture in the first months of the war, Ukraine gradually moved, thanks to the support of NATO, the European Union and its allies, into a position to be able to counterattack, which it did in the end with victory. last summer. He is now preparing for an attack and says he is “capable of winning the war this year”.
To make a difference during these attacks, heavier and more modern weapons were needed, notes French military expert Dominique Trinquand. “So far, Ukraine has used weapons mainly of Soviet origin (…) These materials were used more, and many were destroyed,” he explained in La Matinale.
Paris has promised Ukraine to deliver France’s AMX-10 RC light battle tank. [Emmanuel DUNAND – afp]
Kyiv is very demanding of equipment that is no longer in use by Westerners, such as German Leopard 1 tanks or other types of old equipment that is dormant in European countries’ reserves. These are stocks that don’t need to be replenished after use, says Léo Péria-Peigné, researcher at the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri).
Germany’s ultimate taboo?
However, the delivery of heavy weapons would be a turning point, especially for the Germans, who had been reluctant to tackle the issue from the start of the invasion. For fear of military escalation or escalation of conflict, on the one hand. But there is also a historical and ideological side, said Ulrike Franke, an expert who is a member of the European Council on International Relations (ECFR), in the Tout un monde program.
“Germany is afraid to see German weapons killing Russian soldiers, like in the Second World War. In German politics, there has always been this idea (…) that guns cannot be the solution”, he said.
But several taboos have developed in recent months in the country, mainly due to various European arms support and shipments, there has been no immediate response from Moscow, other than diplomatic condemnation, Ulrike Franke noted.
A key meeting of defense ministers will be held on Friday on this subject at the US military base in Ramstein, Germany. “If they want to announce something, that’s a good time”, judged Ulrike Franke. But as pressure mounted on the German Chancellor, “we don’t know if Olaf Scholz has changed his mind, or if there are negotiations between the European partners behind the scenes”.
“All necessary means” in Russia
On the Russian side, we are also working to try to guarantee modern warfare supplies. Since the beginning of “his” war in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has repeatedly urged the leaders of the Russian military-industrial complex to increase production and optimize their equipment. And in the face of the West’s recent announcement, it is now an absolute necessity for Moscow.
Vladimir Putin visits an arms factory in the Tula region on December 23, 2022. [Russian Presidential Press Office – Keystone]
So, on December 21, Vladimir Putin promised the armed forces “all the necessary human and financial resources” to carry out their invasion. Two days later, he visited an arms factory accompanied by all the national dignitaries in the sector. A clear sign that if the Russian authorities are to win their bet, they need to be able to produce weapons more quickly.
To achieve this goal, however, Russia must circumvent a significant hurdle: a Western technology embargo.
The future is now
West whose capacity is difficult to assess precisely. “Europe has not been equipped for high-intensity war on its borders for many years,” said European defense specialist Gesinne Weber. In recent years, emphasis has been placed on the “fight against terrorism”, he underlined. “So the longer the war goes on, the more complicated it will be for Europeans to maintain critical stocks.”
“To prepare for high-intensity conflict, we must shift from the just-in-time paradigm to the stock paradigm. But obviously, that will take time”, commented Julien Malizard, researcher at the French Institute for High National Defense (IHEDN) studies.
>> Read about it: The European Commission proposes joint arms purchases to member states
At the risk of seeing the defenses of the European great powers dismantled in favor of Ukraine? “I would not say that armies are weakened, because they clearly have a critical capacity”, estimated Gesinne Weber. But this fear is definitely there, judging by Ulrike Franke’s part. “In Germany, we talk about it a lot”, especially since this country “always has equipment problems for the Bundeswehr”, continues the expert.
“But on the other hand, Europeans have understood that Ukraine is also defending Europe’s security. So it’s a bit strange to keep the material to yourself, saying ‘if ever’. ‘If ever’ is if there was war in Europe. And today!”
>> La Matinale topics on arms shipments to Ukraine:
Radio processing and interviews: Nicolas Vultier, Jean-Didier Revoin, Eric Guevara-Frey
Webtext: Pierrik Jordan