Can Europe step up if the U.S. backs off its military support of Ukraine? – asks Anglo-American ‘The Week’.
“European leaders are moving to fill the gap” in American military aid, The New York Times reported. But there are real concerns that Europe may not be entirely up to the task: After decades of relying on the U.S. for its defense, The Wall Street Journal reported, “Europe doesn’t have the stockpiles to make up the difference.”
That’s probably why European officials are also pleading with American leaders to continue its aid to Ukraine, Reuters reported. More than a hundred “senior” lawmakers from across the continent are signing a joint letter asking the U.S. Congress to break its deadlock and get weapons and money flowing once again to Kyiv. “Military spending has risen all across Europe,” they said. “American military aid however is critical and urgent.” What happens, though, if Congress can’t come to an agreement?
“Europe needs to step up support for Ukraine,” Christopher Lockwood argued at The Economist. Russia’s strategy in the war requires “the West to grow tired of what increasingly looks like an open-ended commitment.” The unsettled political situation means that European leaders “have to understand that the task of supporting Ukraine is quickly passing to them.” That means it’s time for Europe to start investing in arms — both to support Ukraine and ensure it isn’t left defenseless. “The fact is that America can no longer be depended upon to lead this fight.”
“European countries are trying to manage an increasingly dangerous situation from an unsustainable peacetime defense and industrial posture,” Justin Bronk wrote for the Royal United Services Institute, a U.K. think tank. NATO is “heavily dependent” on the United States for everything from ammunition to satellite capabilities. If America withdraws its aid, or is forced to divert its resources to the Pacific, “Europe will be left vulnerable.” With the exception of Poland, though, most European democracies have failed to keep their promises of increased military spending: That’s left the continent’s stockpiles “badly depleted.” Urgent investment is needed, but it will also take time. “It takes years for investment in defense to bear fruit.”
“There’s no doubt Europe can meet Ukraine’s military needs,” Chatham House’s Keir Giles told Carnegie Europe. The question is whether it will decide to. It’s true that Europe “has also abdicated responsibility for its own defense.” But there may be no other choice, as Russia is clearly settling in for a long war. Unless Europe starts to step up now, “the consequences will be far greater future costs as Russia remains undefeated and undeterred.”