EU chief: Ukraine war proves EU lacks critical military capabilities
By supporting the war in Ukraine, the EU has depleted its defense resources.
The European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell noted on Thursday that the war in Ukraine has depleted the EU's weapon stockpiles, showing that it lacks "critical" capabilities to protect against threats on its border.
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"This war against Ukraine has been a brutal wake-up for many of us," Josep Borrell told a defense conference in Brussels. "We realize that our military stockpiles have been quickly depleted due to years of under-investment."
Since February, European states have sent billions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukraine without almost any restraint, depleting their stockpiles. NATO and European states have recently felt the heat, ramping up their military spending to match their demands.
"We realize that we lack critical defense capabilities. We lack the capabilities that we need to defend ourselves from a higher level of threats," Borrell said. "We are facing threats, real threats, close by, and (they are) likely to get worse."
Borrell stressed that the EU will need to further increase its military spending and its countries need to ramp up their joint procurement and investment in military technologies to compensate for their deficiencies.
"For me the choice is obvious. We must cooperate more, European armies have to cooperate more among them," he said. "We need to continue supporting Ukraine. We need to continue addressing the present needs and we need to start preparing the future."
EU states continue to be heavily reliant on the US to provide security for them, functioning under NATO alliance.
However, even the US is running low on weapons, and maintaining the ones it had already sent to Ukraine is described by US military officials as a "headache."
EU depleted military stockpiles helping Ukraine
In May, Borrell had also announced the bloc had depleted its military hardware helping Ukraine and urged member states to bolster their defense capabilities.
"The depleted stockpiles resulting from the military support we provided to Ukraine are the most obvious example of our shortfalls. However, this comes on top of the ones inherited from past budget cuts and underinvestment," he wrote in a blog post.
Borrell argued that the EU's defensive capabilities and military expenditure did not meet the ones he claimed the bloc needed to counter security threats at hand.
"From 1999 to 2021, EU combined defense spending increased only by 20% - against 66% for the US, 292% for Russia, and 592% for China. Certainly, one has to take into account the starting level of the military capacities, but these figures show very different trends," he said.
He further argued that the EU needed to rake up military spending to afford modern and interoperable armed forces. He also stressed that Brussels needed to replenish its stockpile while proposing that the bloc augment its military capabilities within the next five years, mainly its air, cyber, and space-based defenses.