NATO member states are hollowing out their armed forces in their rush to arm Ukraine for a proxy fight with Russia, defence and foreign affairs experts have said after a stray missile incident undermined trust in the Kiev regime.
The Kiev regime tested the patience of its Western backers on Tuesday night when President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded NATO intervene militarily against Russian forces — after two people were killed by a stray missile falling in neighbouring Poland.
After several hours of anonymous briefings from Washington and Polish media reports that two Russian missiles had hit the NATO member, it was confirmed that it was fired from a Ukrainian surface-to-air missile (SAM) battery — although Kiev continues to deny this.
That has prompted calls from many quarters — including some in the US Republican Party — to cut off the tens of billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine which has strained the ability of western militaries and arms industries to sustain.
The US military has reportedly run so low on ammunition for howitzers it supplied to Ukraine that it is looking to buy 100,000 shells from South Korea. But it is not the only country to overextend itself.
Spain has this week pledged six of its 36 MIM-23 Hawk SAM systems in response to Kiev’s call for more air defences against Russian cruise missiles and kamikaze drones.
Croatia announced on Tuesday that it will send 14 Soviet-made Mi-8 helicopters from a total inventory of 25, although they were due to be phased out of service in 2026 and the air force will run out of spare parts for them in 2023. As for their replacement, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković only hinted that the government was in discussions with the US on buying UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
The Czech Republic has donated 40 T-72 main battle tanks (MBTs) from its small army, while 90 more mothballed examples are being renovated by a private company — paid for by the US and Netherlands. Neighbouring Slovakia has given up its only squadron of fighter jets, 30 BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) and an S-300 SAM system.
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