Europe is sending Ukraine more money than the US — but only we can send the weapons it needs


As Congress continues to waver over the next package of aid to Ukraine, Japan’s foreign minister promised additional assistance on her recent trip to Kyiv, including $37 million for a NATO-administered Ukraine fund, new electricity generators and an unmanned aircraft-detecting system.

The visit came on the back of Tokyo’s surprise decision in December to facilitate a transfer of its Patriot missiles to the United States — ostensibly to backfill stocks being depleted to help Ukraine.

Japan’s leaders, whose country also faces the prospect of an armed conflict in the Indo-Pacific, understand well that the outcome of the war matters to them — as it does to Europe and the United States.

Few things will dissuade geopolitical adventurists in Beijing, Tehran or Pyongyang from pursuing their dreams like a Russian defeat in Ukraine and the resulting challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power.

To be sure, those in the United States arguing that Ukraine is primarily a European problem to address are correct — and the Europeans know it too.

Hence Europeans are already doing a lot to help — more so than the United States.

The European Union’s and its member countries’ total commitments since February 2022 exceed $140 billion — almost double the financial and military aid the United States has committed.

Graph showing per capita contributions to Ukraine
On a per capita basis, many European countries have donated more to Ukraine than the US. NY Post composite

The already-disbursed budget support by EU institutions alone — not individual European nations — is higher than the financial assistance provided by the United States.

Hungary at December’s EU summit vetoed a $55 billion fund that would help Ukraine between now and the end of 2027, but the program will almost certainly go ahead, with or without Hungary’s participation.

While mobilizing European support for Ukraine has not always been smooth sailing, that Ukraine’s struggle is an existential one is understood in most European capitals.

There is one area where the Europeans and the Japanese cannot do more than they already are, at least in the short run: military aid.

No other country or group of countries has stocks of kit comparable to America’s or a similarly sized defense-industrial base.

French and German companies are expanding production to accommodate growing demand, but today’s investment means added military capacity several years down the road.

Rheinmetall, the producer of Germany’s Leopard tanks, is even planning to build a plant in Ukraine.

In short, if the United States does not come forth with another supplemental package for Ukraine, no one else will be able to fill the short-term void, leaving the war’s outcome hanging in the balance.

From the American perspective, helping Ukrainians defend themselves is not charity.

It is the best thing we can do for our own security.

Russia’s defeat means less global instability and a lesser threat against NATO’s eastern flank, which the United States is treaty-bound to defend.

At the same time, an overwhelming portion of the money appropriated by Congress (some 90%) is spent at home, on purchases of new US-made equipment to replace the older systems and munitions transferred to Ukraine.

Much of it, my AEI colleague Marc Thiessen notes, flows into Republican districts in states such as Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Alabama.

This is not a make-work program, however.

There is a purpose behind keeping the production lines open or bringing them back to life after years in limbo.

If the United States is going to successfully deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or Beijing’s aggression against the Philippines, it will need a defense industry ready to churn out weapons and munitions at a scale comparable to earlier global conflicts, most notably World War II.

The war in Ukraine provides a perfect opportunity to revitalize our defense-industrial base while reducing Russia’s threat to the world — and all that without any risk to American men and women in uniform.

By forgoing this opportunity, our legislators would be letting down not only Ukraine and our allies in Europe and Asia but also the American people, who deserve to live in a safe, stable and prosperous world.

Dalibor Rohac is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Twitter: @DaliborRohac

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