EU’s weapons stockpile depleted – top diplomat
The conflict in Ukraine has revealed numerous shortfalls in the bloc’s security, Josep Borrell says
The EU needs to take more responsibility for its security and compensate for the shortfalls that have been underlined by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the bloc’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borell has said.
“The most obvious example” of such shortfalls are “the depleted stockpiles resulting from the military support we provided to Ukraine” Borrell wrote in his blog on Sunday.
But there were many others “inherited from past budget cuts and underinvestment,” he added.
According to Borrell, the combined defense spending in the EU has increased by only 20% from 1999 to 2021, compared to 66% for the US, 292% for Russia and 592% for China.
The events in Ukraine have resulted in “a tectonic shift of the European security landscape,” the diplomat insisted. “Now it is clear that Europe is in danger.”
In such circumstances, “the EU needs to take on more responsibility for its own security,” which would require creating “modern and interoperable European armed forces, looking at the higher-end of the spectrum and also striving to scale up capabilities and forces,” he pointed out.
Investments in the military must be coordinated among the EU member states as unilateral moves by countries could become “a waste of money, with the risk of multiplying existing loopholes and needless duplications,” Borrell warned.
The diplomat named three main lines of action that should eventually allow the bloc to eradicate the current gaps in its defense.
They include working on the combat readiness of their forces and stockpile replenishment, the modernization of air defenses, cyber and space-based capabilities and to jointly develop future key capabilities such as main battle tanks.
“The time to push forward European defense is now. We need to strengthen the European defense industrial base and to be operational with the needed military capacities. To be able to increase our military capacity to defend ourselves, to make NATO stronger and to support better our partners whenever needed,” Borrell insisted.
Moscow has decried EU involvement in the Ukrainian conflict and its increasing militarization, with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying earlier this month that the bloc “is turning from a constructive economic platform that it was originally meant to be to being an aggressive militant player that has ambitions stretching far beyond the European continent.”
The EU “follows in the footsteps of NATO,” Lavrov insisted. The two entities are in the process of merging and in the future the EU will operate as merely an extension of the US-led military alliance, Lavrov said.
Besides sanctioning Russia, the EU has already allocated €2 bn for military aid to Kiev amid its conflict with Moscow. Borrell said in April that “this war must be won on the battlefield.” He also promised that “the EU will not let Ukraine run out of [military] equipment.”