Thumbnail military aid week 50Image: Bundeswehr/Francis Hildemann Thumbnail military aid week 50Image: Bundeswehr/Francis Hildemann

Further commitments to the German initiative to strengthen Ukraine’s air defence

In mid-April, the German government launched a new initiative which aims to supply Ukraine with additional air defence systems, ammunition, and spare parts within the shortest possible time. The most urgent needs are modern Patriot air defence systems and the corresponding ammunition.

Within a few days, a first firm commitment was made by the Netherlands, which is financially backed by a pledge of €150 million. The German Ministry of Defence also announced that it is also talking to Denmark about how they can contribute to the German initiative.

Lithuania has also openly expressed its interest and willingness to join, even if it is still considering how it can contribute. Air surveillance radars were brought into play by the Lithuanian side, but a decision wasn’t made public yet.

However, apart from this, it has been relatively quiet about an initiative that aims to improve Ukraine’s air defence, particularly in the short term. Given the ever-increasing Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure and civilians, time is running out.

Ten days after the announcement of the German initiative and the associated dozens of discussions between the German ministries and various partner countries, two more of them have now announced their participation.

Another country will also provide important Patriot missiles to Ukraine, but a participation in the German initiative was not mentioned, so I’ll count the pledge being made due to pressure from Germany, but without direct participation in IAAD.

Belgium and Canada support IAAD

Yesterday, the Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of Belgium, Ludivine Dedonder announced Belgium’s participation in the IAAD initiative (Immediate Action on Air Defence). Germany’s small neighbour will support the German initiative with a total of €200 million in funding.

Together with the commitment from the Netherlands to provide a total of €150 million, the fund has grown to a total of €350 million, which automatically makes Belgium the current top contributor if Germany’s own pledge to provide a third Patriot battery to Ukraine is excluded.

Ukrainian soldiers training on the Patriot air defence system
Ukrainian soldiers training on a German Patriot battery

Canada will also contribute to the IAAD initiative. This was announced by the German Ministry of Defence on X (formerly known as Twitter). Interestingly, neither the German nor the Canadian side has yet announced how Canada will contribute to the initiative.

However, it can be assumed that this will be a relatively small financial contribution, as Canada is also supporting the Czech initiative to procure artillery ammunition for Ukraine with just over $53 million. So I expect it to be roughly about the same amount of money.

Spain supplies a small comforting pill

Now that the Netherlands, Poland, and Greece have already ruled out supplying their own Patriot batteries to Ukraine, many were pinning their hopes on Spain, even though I thought this was a mistake from the start.

It should not be forgotten that, according to the Ukraine Support Tracker, Spain has supported Ukraine with military aid worth around €325 million over the past two years.

You couldn’t even buy a new battery without missiles with that money. Do we really expect it to be realistic that Spain will now deliver a battery with missiles to Ukraine that is easily worth twice the value of the military aid provided to date?

It came as it had to, Spain also refused to supply a Patriot battery to Ukraine. However, a few missiles (low two-digit amount) will at least be sent as a comforting gesture to help keep the Patriot batteries already delivered to Ukraine running — even though this is the US’s main task.

It can definitely be said that this delivery was made as a result of pressure from Germany, but the Spanish government has not yet mentioned that this is a contribution to the German initiative, so I currently count this as bilateral aid outside IAAD.

We can expect further announcements within the next week. As already mentioned, neither Denmark nor Lithuania has yet announced how they will support the initiative. According to media reports, Germany is also putting pressure on the US to deliver an additional Patriot battery to Ukraine, although more and more close observers think a delivery by the US is unlikely.

However, all those involved should not forget that literally every day is at stake here.

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