Every week, André Frank and his team from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (ifw) in northern Germany dig through a mountain of publicly available information about Western aid to Ukraine. In their hitherto unique “Ukraine Support Tracker” they try to independently calculate the actual aid in terms of military equipment, humanitarian services and financial aid for the country attacked by Russia.
The greatest challenge for the economists is to calculate the financial share of military aid in the total expenditure of western Ukraine aid from the 100 billion euros that have been given and promised.
It is not an easy task: the official information from the USA or Great Britain on military aid is incomplete. This also applies to the publications of the German federal government, which regularly updates a list of military equipment that is being delivered.
“At first glance, this looks very transparent because the quantities are also given,” says iwf economist André Frank in a DW interview. “But we want to give the deliveries to Ukraine a monetary value”, i.e. to show what the aid actually costs.
This is particularly difficult for Germany, because in the past ten months of the war, Berlin has handed over military equipment from the Bundeswehr stocks that had long been decommissioned or written off – and therefore does not have a currently valid price assessment. For example, the anti-aircraft tank Gepard, which dates back to the Cold War. In the meantime, 30 units of this system, which helps the Ukrainian army to defend itself against Russian rocket attacks, have been delivered from Germany. And it is of great military value there, according to sources in Kyiv.
The economists from Kiel are therefore constantly developing a long “price list” of military equipment and other aid supplies so that they can ultimately calculate the aid financially. After intensive consultations, they value a cheetah at 1.2 million US dollars.
The situation is similar with the Polish T-72 tanks, which originally came from Soviet production and were transferred from Warsaw to Kyiv. Here, the researchers expect a unit value of 1.6 million US dollars.
Another example is the delivery of sleeping bags, according to iwf economist Frank. Part of it provides humanitarian aid, another contingent is intended exclusively for the Ukrainian soldiers on the front line.
For Germany, the Ukraine Support Tracker now puts past military aid and other commitments at over €2.3 billion, while the German government’s list from early December put the figure at €1.9 billion. Both values are therefore below the aid provided.
“We assume that the German military aid is even higher than the value that we are currently spending,” says Frank, describing the conservative accounting of his working group. For example, the federal government would not provide any information on the volume of ammunition deliveries for the state-of-the-art Iris-T missile defense system.
The device has apparently been protecting the region of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv from Russian rocket attacks since the fall. This can be concluded from social media posts from Ukrainian government circles about successfully launched Russian missiles. Operational details of the Ukrainian army are not disclosed by Kyiv. Since the autumn, the Russian army has been targeting the Ukrainian energy system with massive shelling every week. An Iris-T rocket costs $616,000 on the world market.
“Depending on how many rockets are there, that can of course make a big difference,” says ifw researcher Frank. “But that’s just the way it is, that the official information we have from Germany doesn’t give us a chance to estimate an overall value.”
It is unclear how many anti-aircraft missiles the Ukrainian air defense system has fired with Iris-T so far, and how many will be delivered later. “There is no way for us to correctly determine that with the officially available sources.”
The situation is similar with the so-called ring exchange: That is, when eastern NATO states such as Slovakia or Slovenia hand over old Soviet tanks to Ukraine and receive military equipment from Germany in return. “We do not categorize the complete exchange of rings as aid from Germany to Ukraine, because it does not benefit Ukraine directly,” says iwf researcher Frank.
And yet the Kiel economists are convinced that their calculations, even with the last update from early December, are very close to the realities of this war. The approach of working with a separate “price list” for the delivered military equipment makes comparability easier.
“Even if we overestimate military aid for individual weapons and other goods,” says Frank, “this will be compensated for elsewhere.” When it comes to bilateral deliveries of military equipment, the USA remains by far the most important supporter of Ukraine with 23 billion euros at the top, followed by Great Britain with 4.1 billion euros, followed by the calculated 2.3 billion euros in military aid from Germany.
It is easier to get an overview of the large total sums of aid to Ukraine: i.e. all the humanitarian aid, financial aid and military goods provided by the western Ukraine-supporting states together. With their decision to help Ukraine from January with a further 18 billion euros, the EU states and the institutions of the European Union are overtaking the USA when it comes to aid for Ukraine.
Europe will then support Kyiv with a total of 52 billion euros compared to 48 billion euros from the USA for “military, financial and humanitarian aid”, write the Kiel economists in their statement on the current “Ukraine Support Tracker”, which lists given and announced aid until April 20. pictured November of this year.
Author: Frank Hofmann
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The original of this post “How much does the war cost?” comes from Deutsche Welle.