Wed, 29 Nov 2023

The British defence secretary says Western countries will have to purchase arms for Kiev instead of donating from stockpiles

Western nations' military stockpiles are being increasingly depleted, forcing them to seek armaments elsewhere to prop up Ukraine, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has warned. He also downplayed Kiev's hopes of joining NATO in the foreseeable future.

In an interview with The Washington Post published on Friday, Wallace commended the West for continuing to send defense aid to Ukraine amid its military standoff with Russia. However, the minister acknowledged that "we have seen reality, which is that we are all running out" of weapons and equipment that can be donated.

The UK and other nations are increasingly having to purchase arms on the international market for Ukraine, as opposed to tapping into their existing stockpiles, the official explained.

When asked about the prospects of Ukraine joining NATO, Wallace warned against overpromising to aspirants such as Kiev.

"We have to be realistic and say, 'It's not going to happen at Vilnius; It's not going to happen anytime soon,'" the secretary insisted, referring to a NATO summit slated for this July in Lithuania's capital.

Wallace revealed that several nations were prepared to sign bilateral or multilateral "mutual defense pacts" with Ukraine as an alternative to membership in the US-led military bloc.

However, the British cabinet minister expressed optimism over the much-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive, predicting that Kiev could retake Crimea by the end of this year.

Media reports emerged in late January that a senior US general had privately told Defense Secretary Wallace that the British Armed Forces were no longer considered a top-level military.

Anonymous sources cited in the articles warned that UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak risked failing in his role as a "wartime prime minister" unless he beefed up London's defense budget and took several other measures.

In early April, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius acknowledged that his own country's army was facing similar problems, and would not be able to bridge gaps in funding and supplies by 2030. He also rejected the idea of sending more arms to Ukraine from Berlin's stockpiles.

In March, Germany's Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Eva Hoegl concluded that the "Bundeswehr has too little of everything, and it has even less since February 24, 2022."

She pointed out that donations of howitzers, multiple rocket launchers and Leopard tanks to Ukraine had left "big holes" in Germany's own military stockpiles.


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