Since the start of the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian government has been pleading with the world for more weapons to fight the Russian forces.
The U.S. and its European partners and allies have responded and have sent military aid worth billions of dollars to Ukraine. Those weapon systems, notably anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, have been key in stopping the Russian advance and frustrating the plans of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But as the war shifts into its second phase, in which the Ukrainian military might need to conduct large-scale counterattacks, Kyiv is once more asking for more weapons.
Soviet Weapons to Fight Russia
The Ukrainian military has asked for weapons it can use. It will do little service to send Ukraine F-16 Fighting Falcons fighter jets or M1 Abrams main battle tanks because the Ukrainians are unfamiliar with their operation and maintenance. And these multi-million weapon systems aren’t commercial cars where one could jump in another and just take off. On the contrary, they need lengthy training and practice to operate effectively in a combat situation where everything is on the line.
So the Ukrainian needs must focus on Soviet- or Russian-made weapons. Some countries have already responded to that request and have sent weapons that the Ukrainians can use immediately. The Czech Republic has sent an unspecified number of T-72 battle tanks, and Slovakia has sent S-300 anti-aircraft batteries—which the Russians have falsely claimed to have destroyed.
Cyprus is another country that could send Ukraine Soviet- and Russian-made weapons, including about 80 T-80 main battle tanks, 40 BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles, and 10 Mi-35P attack helicopters. But the Cypriot Ministry of Defense is asking for the U.S. or other countries to first replace the weapons systems with new or used ones before they send anything to Ukraine because of the threat posed by the Turkish forces in the occupied northern part of Cyprus.
But perhaps the most important thing for Ukraine is that there is a political willingness in the West to openly supply Kyiv with arms.
“Since the outset of my administration, the United States has placed the highest priority on delivering critical military capabilities to Ukraine so it can defend itself against Russian aggression. The entire world has now witnessed the effectiveness of those weapons, as courageous Ukrainian forces have used them to repel the Russian attack on Kyiv, keep the skies of Ukraine contested, and deliver severe blows to the Russian military,” President Joe Biden said in a press release.
And the U.S. is not only providing Ukraine with weapons from its own stocks, but it is also facilitating the transfer of weapons from third countries by using its diplomatic clout.
“In addition to U.S.-produced weapons, we have also worked to facilitate the transfer of capabilities from our Allies and partners around the world. I want to thank the Slovakian government for providing an S-300 air defense system to Ukraine, something President Zelenskyy has personally raised with me in our conversations. To enable this transfer and ensure the continued security of Slovakia, the United States will reposition a U.S. Patriot missile system to Slovakia,” Biden added.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.