The war in Ukraine has now been raging for over a year, since the Russian invasion on 24th February 2022.
Like many other western and western-allied countries, the UK has supplied large quantities of arms to Ukraine to help it defend against the Russian invasion, and to recapture occupied territory. So far, the UK has committed £2.3 billion worth of military aid to Ukraine, the second highest, after the US, of any individual country, and has pledged to match or exceed this sum in fiscal year 2023/24. Total UK aid to Ukraine, including non-military aid, is £3.8 billion.
This post summarises arms supplied to Ukraine by the UK and by other countries. Most of the information is taken from a Research Briefing from the House of Commons Library, Military Assistance to Ukraine since the Russian invasion. We will update this page as further arms supplies are announced.
In the period from 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and supported rebel forces in the east of Ukraine, to 2021, the year before the invasion, the UK provided some military assistance to Ukraine in the form of training and non-lethal equipment. This is discussed in detail in another House of Commons Library briefing.
UK arms export licences to Ukraine (for commercial sales, as opposed to government-provided military aid) were fairly limited in this period. The value of Single Individual Export Licences issued from 2014-21 was £28.3 million. In addition, there were 6 Open Individual Export Licences, allowing for unlimited deliveries of the specified equipment (although as these were generally issued for export to a large number of recipient countries, it is not clear how much, if any, was actually sold to Ukraine in these cases), and 10 Single Individual Trade Control Licences, which allow for UK individuals or companies to arrange, or ‘broker’ arms sales from a third country to the recipient. These allow for delivery of a fixed quantity of equipment, but the value is not disclosed.
The run-up to the war
The first new UK military aid packages for Ukraine were announced in January and early February 2022. This included
- 2,000 next-generation light anti-tank missiles (NLAWs)
- Body armour, helmets, and combat boots
- Training from a small contingent of UK military personnel (who withdrew in mid-February)
Since the war started
Russia invaded Ukraine on 24th February 2022. Since then, the UK has announced numerous military aid packages. Equipment supplied or promised is listed below. Except where otherwise linked, the information comes from the House of Commons Library research briefing referenced above.
- Thousands, or possibly tens of thousands, of anti-tank missiles, including thousands of NLAWs and Javelins, and 600 Brimstone anti-tank missiles (the latter announced in February 2023).
- Thousands of air-defence/surface-to-air missiles, including Starstreaks, as well as AMRAAM missiles, which can shoot down cruise missiles, to be used with US-supplied National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS).
- 5 Starstreak air-defence systems, as well as several Stormer armoured vehicles fitted with Starstreak systems (not clear if these are the 5 previously delivered, or additional)
- 125 anti-aircraft guns
- Hundreds of armoured fighting vehicles, including Bulldogs
- 3 M270 long-range multiple-launch rocket systems announced in June 2022, followed by an unknown additional number announced in August 2022
- 20 M-109 self-propelled artillery units, bought from Belgium and refurbished in the UK
- 30 AS-90 self-propelled guns
- At least 82 howitzer artillery guns
- At least 100,000 artillery rounds, including hundreds of precision-guided munitions for the M270 multiple-launch rocket systems
- Hundreds of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
- 14 Challenger tanks, with thousands of rounds of munitions and associated armoured recovery and repair vehicles. These were announced in February 2023, making the UK the first country to pledge to supply main battle tanks to Ukraine
- Spares to refurbish 100 Ukrainian tanks and infantry fighting vehicles
- A manoeuvre support package, including minefield breaching and bridge laying capabilities.
- Harpoon anti-ship missiles
- 3 Sea-King search & rescue helicopters
- 1,360 anti-structure munitions
- 400,000 rounds of small arms ammunition
- Electronic warfare equipment
- A counter-battery radar system (which detects artillery projectiles, and locates the position of the system firing it)
- GPS jamming equipment
- Dozens of anti-drone radars
- Anti-drone electronic warfare capability
- Over 200,000 items of non-lethal aid, including body armour, helmets, night vision equipment and medical equipment.
- Extreme weather gear, including 25,000 set of extreme cold weather clothing, 20,000 sleeping bags and 150 insulated tents.
In some cases, exact numbers have not been revealed, and the above may not be a comprehensive list. It seems likely that some types of equipment (e.g. anti-tank missiles, munitions) have continued to be delivered without additional specific announcements. In some cases, announcements have referred to previous deliveries of a type of equipment that don’t appear to correspond to previous announcements. Nonetheless, the government has provided, and continues to provide, a significant amount of information on the types and quantities of equipment supplied.
Since the announcements by the UK, US, Germany and others in February 2023 that they would supply tanks to Ukraine, the Ukrainian government has been urging allies to send them combat aircraft as well. So far this has not happened. The UK government’s current position is that they would be willing to supply Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft to Ukraine after the war, but at present not during it. However, this does not seem to be a final and definitive position. The USA and Germany have effectively ruled out supplying combat aircraft. Concerns over supplying combat aircraft to Ukraine include that they would in themselves risk an escalation of the war, and because of the on-the-ground support they would need from supplier countries, bringing NATO troops into the war zone.
In early July 2022, the first Ukrainian troops arrived in the UK for training, under a scheme called Operation Interflex, involving 1,050 UK soldiers. This programme aims to be able to train 10,000 soldiers every 120 days at various MOD sites in the UK. Several other countries: The Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Lithuania and New Zealand, have sent several hundred troops between them to the UK to assist with the training programme. In November 2022, it was announced that a total of 7,400 Ukrainian troops had so far received training, with 1,900 more currently in the UK.
The UK has also provided training on various specific systems supplied to Ukraine.
Where has the equipment come from
Most of the equipment supplied by the UK to Ukraine has come from the UK military’s existing stocks of weaponry and munitions. However, in addition to the M-109 guns bought from Belgium, mentioned above, much of the package announced in February 2023, including hundreds of armoured vehicles, dozens of UAVs, 10,000 artillery rounds, hundreds of missiles including precision-guided artillery rockets, Starstreak surface-to-air missiles, medium-range air-defence missiles, 600 Brimstone anti-tank missiles, the manoeuvre support package, the tank and vehicle spares, and dozens of UAVs, were to be purchased on the open market, or from other countries.
Military equipment donated by the UK MOD to foreign countries (as opposed to equipment sold by industry, or sold by the MOD as surplus), do not require export licences, and thus will not appear in export licence statistics. However, they do have to be assessed against the same criteria as equipment supplied under export licences. Since the beginning of 2022, the UK has issued Single Individual Export Licences worth £229 million for arms sales to Ukraine, as well as two Open Individual Export Licences, and eight brokerage/trade control licences. This is presumably for equipment sold by UK companies to Ukraine, rather than donated by the government. The largest values have been for body armour, helmets & armoured plate (ML13: £82 million), radars and targeting systems etc. (ML5: £76 million) and armoured vehicles (ML6: £32 million).
Other countries’ arms supplies to Ukraine
Numerous other countries have supplied arms to Ukraine. Again, the HoC Library research briefing is a very good source, as is the Forum on the Arms Trade resource page on the issue. Belgian peace research institute GRIP (Groupe de récherche et d’information sur la paix et la sécurité) have also produced a detailed, fully-sourced database of arms supplies to Ukraine from January-November 2022, along with factsheets and methodology in both English and French.
Countries supplying arms to Ukraine have been quite variable in the transparency of their information – in some cases, a total value of military aid has been announced, in some cases a total for military and humanitarian/other aid, in some cases only a (possibly partial) list of equipment. Some of the biggest donors of arms and military assistance have been:
- USA: $29.8 billion since the start of the war
- European Union: €3.6 billion through the so-called European Peace Facility
- Germany: €2 billion in 2022, with a further €2.2 billion pledged for 2023. A full list of equipment sent or planned is available here.
- France: At least €2.2 billion, including military and humanitarian aid
- Poland: Value unclear. By February 2023 they had supplied 260 T-72 tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and artillery howitzers, as well as anti-aircraft missiles, ammunition, grenades, mortars and reconnaissance drones. In January 2023, they pledged to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks with 1,000 rounds of ammunition, 30 PT-91 Twardy tanks, and S-60 anti-aircraft guns with 70,000 pieces of ammunition. By June 2022 they had supplied equipment worth $1.7 billion; however, a substantial portion of this is expected to be funded by the EU, or by the US.
- Netherlands: €987 million by the end of 2022
- Sweden: SEK9.3 billion ($892 million)
- Canada: CA$1 billion ($735 million)
How much is the arms industry benefiting from this?
The Russian arms industry is obviously benefitting enormously from the war, as it is having to supply the vast quantity of munitions and other supplies used by the Russian military in the war, as well as replacing the very substantial quantities of equipment destroyed and captured. Western arms industries are likely to benefit hugely in several ways:
- Countries that have donated arms to Ukraine will be replacing them with new equipment produced by their own industry, or by imports from other western industries
- As stockpiles of munitions (missiles, artillery shells, small arms ammo, etc.) of donor countries are depleted, ongoing supplies to Ukraine will increasingly come from new production by the arms industry. Indeed, there is considerable talk of the US and European countries scaling up production capacity for such munitions to allow for this, as well as replenishment of stocks
- Many western countries are substantially increasing military spending as a result of the war, which will of course benefit the arms industry. The UK has not yet made a new announcement of military spending increases since the start of the war, but this is highly likely in the future.
- Even beyond the US and Europe, the war is likely to increase tensions and lead to military spending increases, for example in the Asia Pacific region
- Both western and Russian arms industries will be able to market equipment used during the war as “battle tested” when seeking to export. However, Russian exports are likely to decline, due to the poor performance of the Russian military in Ukraine, and as increasingly countries buying arms from Russia will find themselves unable to buy from the US or other western countries.
Read CAAT’s statement on the Ukraine war after one year here.