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Defence and security links between Ukraine, NATO members and other allies and partners started soon after Ukraine’s independence in 1991. They intensified when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, but primarily took the form of training and the bilateral provision of non-lethal military equipment.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, bilateral military assistance has been significantly stepped up, with many allies for the first time supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine. For some countries such as Germany, and historically neutral countries such as Sweden, this has represented a significant reversal of their previous defence policies which ruled out providing offensive weapons.

As the conflict in Ukraine has evolved, so has the types of weaponry being provided. Ahead of the current Ukrainian counteroffensive, the focus has been on providing Ukraine with the capability to both defend their territory and to enable them to retake ground under Russian control. There have been fears that the provision of increasingly more sophisticated weaponry could escalate the conflict.

US support

The US is the largest provider of military assistance to Ukraine, having committed $44.5 billion since the start of the Biden administration in January 2021. $43.9 billion of that assistance has been provided since Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

UK assistance

Based on capability provided to date (see Methodology and rankings below), the UK is currently the second largest donor. The UK has committed £4.6 billion in military assistance to Ukraine so far (£2.3 billion in 2022 and a commitment to match that funding in 2023).

The UK is also hosting a training programme (Operation Interflex), which is supported by several allies, with the aim of training 30,000 new and existing Ukrainian personnel by the end of 2023. The UK has committed to training Ukrainian fast jet pilots but has said that combat fighter aircraft will not be provided, at least in the short term. The UK is supplying long-range precision strike missiles.

NATO and the EU

NATO, as an alliance, has been clear in its political support of Ukraine and fully supports the provision of bilateral military assistance by individual allies. NATO is helping to coordinate requests for assistance from the Ukrainian government and is supporting the delivery of humanitarian and non-lethal aid. Ukraine is not a NATO member, however, and therefore isn’t party to NATO’s mutual defence clause under Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty. As such, NATO troops will not be deployed on the ground in Ukraine. Allies have also ruled out imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine because it would bring Russia into direct conflict with NATO forces. At the Heads of State and Government summit in Madrid at the end of June 2022 NATO allies agreed a new package of assistance for Ukraine that will provide long term, sustained, support. That multi-year programme was subsequently adopted at the Vilnius Summit in July 2023.

The European Union is also providing non-lethal and lethal arms through its European Peace Facility (EPF). This is the first time the bloc has, in its history, approved the supply of lethal weapons to a third country. To date, the EU has committed just over €5.6 billion, including €1 billion of funds to reimburse EPF countries who have provided urgently needed munitions. €1 billion of EPF funds has also been set aside for the joint EU procurement of artillery ammunition. In October 2022, the EU approved a new training mission for the Ukrainian armed forces.

Longer term the EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, has proposed establishing a dedicated Ukraine fund under the auspices of the EPF. That fund would be worth €20 billion over four years.

Methodology and rankings

This paper does not attempt to rank countries in terms of the military assistance they are providing to Ukraine.

Rankings based on assistance provided to date and capabilities received in theatre can vary significantly from ones that include multi-year financial commitments, such as those rankings provided by the Kiehl Institute. While a budget may have been ringfenced for future years, it has not yet been spent or the capability provided. Military assistance is also often discussed in conjunction with humanitarian and economic aid. Adopting a much broader methodology can result in significant changes to country rankings.

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