WASHINGTON ― As some Eastern European nations send their Soviet-era kit to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s attack, the new weapons those nations stand to get in return from the United States and its allies could shape the continent’s arsenal for years to come.
The tactic of backfilling donated tanks in Poland, air defense gear in Slovakia or armored trucks in Slovenia, for example, is meant to beef up Ukraine’s resistance while offering European Union members a way to remain out of direct conflict. The transactions, many of which go unpublicized, add a new dynamic to an already volatile military procurement pattern in Europe that clashes with the bloc’s lengthy plans for collectively developed weapons.
“When it comes to new equipment, the Eastern European partners will primarily turn to the United States,” said Matthias Wachter, chief defense analyst at the German industry association BDI. “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.”
For example, Poland is in line to receive an undisclosed number of Challenger 2 tanks from the U.K. to backfill its supply of T-72 tanks to Ukraine. That’s in addition to the planned purchase of 250 Abrams tanks from the United States in a deal worth almost $5 billion.
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