NATO Isn't Exactly Sending Its Best Weapons to Ukraine to Fight Russia

NATO Leopard 2 Tank
March 15, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: RussiaUkraineWar In UkraineRussian MilitaryDefenseTanksMilitary

NATO Isn't Exactly Sending Its Best Weapons to Ukraine to Fight Russia

NATO has committed itself to supporting Ukraine against Russia. Like so many wars, this conflict has been surrounded by a bodyguard of lies. One of the most enduring myths perpetuated by the Western press and the leaders of NATO is that the equipment they’re sending Ukraine is helping them to remain in the fight against Russia. In fact, most of the platforms being given to Ukraine are little more than junk. 

Ukraine is a Dumping Ground for NATO’s Old Weapons: NATO has committed itself to supporting Ukraine against Russia. Like so many wars, this conflict has been surrounded by a bodyguard of lies. One of the most enduring myths perpetuated by the Western press and the leaders of NATO is that the equipment they’re sending Ukraine is helping them to remain in the fight against Russia. In fact, most of the platforms being given to Ukraine are little more than junk

French Armor “Unsuitable” for Combat 

The French government under President Emmanuel Macron has been one of the biggest proponents of continuing NATO’s involvement in the Ukraine War. As a result, France has provided large numbers of lightly armored tanks, the AMC-10RC. France’s AMC-10RC is a holdover from the early 1980s. The last major upgrade to this platform occurred in 2000. For its part, the French military began phasing out these antiquated platforms in 2021, a full year before the Russians invaded Ukraine. 

These systems, according to the Ukrainians, were “unsuitable” for combat. 

A Forbes headline read that the lightly armored units were “too flimsy for frontal assaults.” What these reports did not mention at the time was that the kind of warfare that defined most of the Ukraine War was static, trench-style combat. In other words, Ukraine needed weapons to break through Russian frontlines. Instead, they were given old, lightly armored French vehicles that flew to pieces once engaged in the kind of warfare Ukraine was waging.

Nevertheless, France flooded Ukraine with its junky old tanks. 

A cynical person might conclude this was purposeful, part of a larger plot to drain Western arsenals of weapons platforms deemed obsolete to force those governments to purchase more expensive, modern systems from the defense contractors of the West. Whatever the case, France’s help wasn’t really all that helpful. It just got many Ukrainians needlessly killed.

The Blessed Tanks

Last year around this time, a great debate raged between the members of NATO. On the one side, led by the Americans and British, were the Eastern Europeans demanding that NATO give Ukraine the most advanced Main Battle Tank (MBT) in the Western arsenal: the German-built Leopard-2. Until that point, NATO nations had plied Ukraine with a bevy of antiques that they tried to pass off as being game-changing systems against Russia. Poland and several other European states gave over most of their Soviet-era tanks, such as the old Soviet T-72 and PT-91.

Of course, the Russians had similar systems. 

Yet unlike the Ukrainians, the Russians also possessed more advanced systems. What’s more, they usually could employ more effective countermeasures to these systems. Almost none of the old Soviet-era junk that NATO nations handed over to Ukraine made much of a difference in the Ukraine War.

The British sent 14 refurbished Challenger-2 MBTs that were set to be decommissioned. Meanwhile, the Americans promised to gift Ukraine a whopping thirty-one M1 Abrams MBTs. Amidst the euphoria felt in Western capitals and the sense of relief Ukraine’s military must have been experiencing, most people missed the Pentagon’s follow-on announcement: The upgraded, modern Abrams were unavailable, and the U.S. was sending out-of-date Abrams. 

Even though Ukraine’s military was incompetent at using the tanks they were given, NATO’s leadership was so politically invested in the war, that they began throwing caution into the wind. They pressured Germany to send over its Leopard-2s. 

After much hemming and hawing, Germany allowed for their prestigious MBT to be given to Ukraine. About 18 were sent. By January 2024, Ukraine had lost most of the shipment of Leopard-2s they were given the year before. In fact, reports circulated that in many cases, Ukraine’s forces are not properly maintaining the tanks, leading to all manner of technical problems. 

As one retired U.S. Army tanker told me, “We could give Ukraine the best tanks in the world and they’d still lose ‘em because they don’t know how to use ‘em right!” 

Old Airplanes Won’t Do the Trick in Ukraine 

The new cause celebre among the NATO set is that, for the Ukrainians to really have a chance at defeating the massive Russian military, they need warplanes. Notably the F-16. Right on cue, the Netherlands announced they were sending twelve F-16s over to Ukraine for an “added layer of defense.” 

F-16

We’re supposed to believe that 12 warplanes will turn the tide in Ukraine? 

What’s more, these planes were from an older generation. These airframes are at the end of their design life cycle. Thrown into the frontlines of a major war with a nuclear-armed power, they will not lead Ukraine to victory.

These systems will require maintenance personnel and facilities to be built and used. The level of training Ukrainian pilots will need just to pilot these warplanes is extensive. One report suggested that Ukraine’s pilots won’t even be able to fly these warplanes until July, and only a few at a time will be deployed. And, again, these F-16s are antiquated compared to the fifth-generation warplanes that Russia possesses. 

Pure Waste

NATO’s aid to Ukraine has not really been helpful. The war is not going in Kyiv’s favor. The systems they’re being given are both too old and too few in number to make a difference. Lastly, the systems in question – notably the F-16s – require so much training that there’s no way Ukraine’s war effort will be aided in time. 

F-16

Rather than encourage Ukraine to negotiate for a peaceful settlement after the successful defense of Kyiv almost two years ago, US and British leaders demanded Kyiv’s government keep pressing their attack. After two years of this, the war appears to be nearing its end, with a Ukrainian defeat at hand. The West is just prolonging the inevitable by dumping their old equipment into the laps of the Ukrainians. 

About the Author 

Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life, and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy. Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.

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