Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Ukraine Is Getting Flooded with Soviet-Era Weapons to Fight Russia

Russian Army tank firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Russian Army tank firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Last week, Germany’s parliament finally agreed to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine. The Bundestag’s move has been hailed as the last nail in the coffin of pro-Putin lobbying in Europe.

While Germany will soon send weapons to Kyiv, other nations have already been stepping up. A handful of smaller NATO-member countries are sending Soviet-era weapons to Ukraine. These military arms are older, but still reliable.  

The donations include T-72 tanks from Poland, S-300 air defense systems from Slovakia, and armored trucks from Slovenia. All of these systems will help the fighters in Ukraine. But the countries giving them away will also benefit: They will soon receive new weapons from the United States and other allied nations. As Defense News reported, “it could shape the continent’s arsenal for years to come.”

Slovakia will receive the U.S.-made Patriot missile systems, while its aging S-300s head to Ukraine. The older systems should bolster Ukraine’s long-range air defense capabilities. Ukraine already has its own S-300s in place, and some of the new arrivals could replace systems that the Russians have destroyed. Meanwhile, Slovakia will have an air defense platform that is more compatible with NATO equipment.

Armor on the Way

Poland has sent some 200 T-72 tanks to Ukraine. In turn, it will receive an undisclosed number of Challenger 2 tanks from the United Kingdom. Warsaw also plans to purchase 240 M1A2 Abrams tanks from the United States in a deal worth $5 billion. Warsaw had previously expressed interest in joining German-French efforts to develop the Eurotank, but it may be less keen to do so now. 

“When it comes to new equipment, the Eastern European partners will primarily turn to the United States,” Matthias Wachter, chief defense analyst at the German industry association BDI, told Defense News. “Germany and France have unfortunately disqualified themselves in the eyes of many eastern Europeans by way of their reluctant stance on military support for Ukraine.”

Out With the Old

Poland, Slovenia, and Slovakia are not simply disposing of antiquated systems by sending their Cold War equipment to Ukraine. 

According to one analyst, it is already benefiting Kyiv.

“Eastern European countries providing Ukraine with a number of their Soviet-era weapons systems to aid them in the conflict is in part because Ukrainian forces are already familiar with the systems and partially because of an expectation that the US will assist them in acquiring more modern Western systems,” explained William Davies, associate defense analyst at GlobalData, via email.

“The main winner from this arrangement will be western defense companies, with Eastern European countries likely turning to the U.S. as their primary partner for procuring new systems,” Davies added. “The U.S. has long pushed Eastern European companies to replace their Soviet-era equipment with Western equipment to increase NATO interoperability, and this shift will likely lead to a significantly increased number of contracts to major Western companies in the coming years.”


Russia’s T-72 tank firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Russia Chernobyl

Russia’s T-72 tank drilling. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Good for NATO

Of course, the U.S. taxpayer will pick up the tab in the short term, but this transfer of equipment and replacement with American-made systems will be good for NATO and the United States in the long run.

“The U.S. has already provided funding for replacing depleted Eastern European weapon stocks, with more than $300 million allocated in the most recent package,” Davies continued. “This funding will advance older programs which the U.S. has funded to aid the process of nations getting rid of aging Soviet equipment. In the long term, even if the conflict abates, this process will mean that former Soviet states are no longer reliant on Russia for maintenance and repairs of equipment, and better able to cooperate with Western nations across various operations – providing a long-term boost to Western companies.” 

Ukraine Russia

Russian T-72 Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.