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Will Europeans send the latest generation of heavy weapons to Ukraine?

President Zelensky demands that Europe send him modern heavy weapons for the battle of Donbass. He may only get Soviet-era weapons.

Despite the sanctions imposed by Europe from the early days of the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian offensive continues and intensifies. On Monday, EU foreign ministers met in Luxembourg to discuss a sixth package of sanctions against Moscow.

The immediate cessation of oil and gas purchases that President Zelensky is demanding to cut funding for Russia’s war effort still divides the 27. According to major German economic forecasting institutes, Germany risks falling into recession by 2023 if Russian gas runs out immediately. is discontinued supplies. Italy, Austria and Hungary are also very dependent on Russian gas.

To help the Ukrainians, new arms supplies by the EU have also been discussed. During her visit to Kiev with the head of diplomacy Josep Borrell, Ursula von der Leyen promised to release 500 million euros worth of weapons, without specifying the type of weapons or the precise timetable.

“Sanctions are important, but they will not solve the problem in the Donbass. The struggle in the Donbass will determine the outcome of the war,” Josep Borrell underlined.

Heavy and modern weapons

Indeed, in order to win the Battle of Donbass, Kiev demands that the Europeans send it urgently, not only defensive weapons, such as missiles (anti-tank, surface-to-air), howitzers or drones, but also heavy weapons (tanks, aircraft, -aircraft batteries, etc. .).

“We need the weapons that some of our partners in the European Union have,” the Ukrainian president demanded.

I’m not sure if this request will be taken into account. On the one hand, the European armies do not have sufficient stocks of recent equipment to supply them. On the other hand, modern weapons would require training to enable the Ukrainian military to handle them.

The Ukrainian army will indeed start to receive heavy weapons, but it will mainly be old equipment, the Soviet-era equipment that the Ukrainians are already using and that require no training. Washington is even trying to convince European countries that own Soviet arsenals to transfer them to Ukraine in exchange for recent American equipment.

Czech Republic announced the sending of tanks T-72 of Russian design† Slovakia, which also has a stock of Russian T-72 and T-55 tanks, is also offering Ukraine to help repair them by providing spare parts. Bratislava has already supplied Soviet S-300 air defense systems, which have already been used by the Ukrainians.

Soviet equipment against American weapons

Same for airplanes. Poland, Bulgaria and Slovakia offered to donate Mig-29s or Su-25s. After geostrategic talks with the United States, Poland was finally able to send combat aircraft by passing them through the American base at Ramstein in Germany. In return, Warsaw could get F-16s.

Slovakia must step up its aid. It announced Friday that it had equipped Kiev with a Russian S-300 anti-aircraft defense system. In return, the United States promised to send a battery of Patriot PAC-3. Slovakia also plans to sell 11 Mig-29s. They will be replaced by the 14 F-16s ordered in 2018.

Germany, for its part, says that it can no longer call on its stocks and is calling on its manufacturers. Rheinmetall is waiting for government approval to offer about fifty Leopard 1 tanks, designed in the 1960s and stored in its Italian subsidiary. But Kiev will not depend on new weapons.

Liberal Party MP Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann has warned that they will need training to use them and warns that without this skill, Ukrainian soldiers will be nothing but “cannon fodder”.

Pascal Samama

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