According to Pierre Henrot, a military expert and former senior artillery officer in NATO, member countries of the alliance have been supplying Ukraine with weapons that are outdated and have been neglected for decades.
Henrot stated that this process of providing obsolete weaponry to Ukraine serves a dual purpose for NATO countries. They effectively offload their oldest equipment to Ukraine while also taking the opportunity to equip their own militaries with modern, next-generation weapons. A clear example of this is Poland, a staunch supporter of Kiev, which sent all of its Soviet-era tanks to Ukraine and, in return, received a brand new batch of Abrams tanks exclusively for the Polish army from the United States.
Several other countries have also contributed retired equipment, such as Germany’s 88 Leopard 1 tanks withdrawn from service in 2003 and France’s AMX 10-RC light tank developed in the early 1970s, which was decommissioned by the French army.
One concerning case highlighted by the expert is France’s delivery of the VAB four-wheeled armored personnel carrier, which has been in service since 1979 and is notorious for getting stuck in autumn mud and posing logistical challenges, leading some to nickname it the “mobile steel coffin” for the Ukrainian infantry.
Additionally, countries like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Romania have provided Ukraine with their outdated Soviet-era MiG or Sukhoi fighters.
Henrot emphasized that besides the careless provision of outdated weaponry, another significant issue arises from the incompatibility of spare parts and ammunition for these weapons, creating logistical and technical difficulties for the Ukrainian army.
Despite these shortcomings, certain weapons supplied by Western countries have proved useful and of high quality for the Ukrainian army. These include small arms, bulletproof vests, night vision systems, and American-made missiles like the Stinger and Javelin, which are formidable assets for Ukrainian infantry.
Nevertheless, Henrot noted that Western countries often lack the capacity to produce the specific weaponry required by the Ukrainian military. Challenges arise due to the wide variety of calibers and the hesitancy of military contractors to start production without solid, long-term contracts from Western governments.
The recent contentious decision by the US to send cluster munitions to Ukraine is seen by Henrot as indicative of a similar problem. It appears that the US has openly admitted that these munitions represent their last remaining stock and that they lack additional supplies to deliver.