Hand-Me-Down Arms to Ukraine

Here’s a good on-the-ground example of what the current Western skittishness about providing Ukraine with the means to defend itself actually means.

Szrot for the Ukrainian army.” Szrot (pronounced simply as [shrot]) would be a fun Polish word in any other context: it means “scrap metal,” basically trash. But that’s basically what the Ukrainian army has to look forward to now, specifically to twenty “Saxon”-type armored personnel carriers coming fairly soon from United Kingdom stocks, to be eventually followed by fifty-five more.

This piece by Rzeczpospolita staff-writer Piotr Wożniak goes on to estimate that Ukraine will be paying the UK government about $51,000 for each such APC, which seems hardly a high amount for a military vehicle. The trouble is that this is hardly top-of-the-line equipment. A perusal of the Wikipedia page for the Saxon is valuable here, although Wożniak provides several related data-points of his own. Saxons went into service in the British Army in the early 1980s; they’re no longer actively used there because they’ve been replaced by more modern equipment. You’ll only find them still in use in backwater militaries like that of Hong Kong or Mozambique.

Even then, and even for that $51,000 apiece, none of the Saxons will come equipped with the armament that was standard for them in British service (namely a 7.62 mm MG medium machine gun, which itself is really no very big deal) – for no one wants to actually provide the Ukraine with “offensive weapons” as that would be too “offensive” to the sensibilities of Vladimir Putin. (Meanwhile, just go on-line for satellite photos to take a gander at the top-of-the-line Russian military equipment – and personnel, let us not forget – crossing the border to support the Separatists.)

Relevant to this point, Wożniak has a great paragraph:

What is interesting is that the lack of support for Kiev when it comes to weapons and military equipment cannot be rationally explained. Ukraine is not the object of any embargo, nor is it some terrorist-supporting state. There exist no legal obstacles.

Ah, but of course that is just a Pole talking, someone whose country knows all about invasions from the East from past experience, whose country is objectively next in line – just look at the map! – after Ukraine falls. That is, someone who doesn’t realize how Vladimir Putin can be a perfectly reasonable fellow, provided one simply doesn’t resist him.

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