Arming Ukraine depleted union's weapons stockpiles: EU diplomacy chief
Since February, European states have sent billions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukraine without almost any restraint, depleting their stockpiles.
In a tone that sounded somewhat regretful, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement on Sunday that the bloc had run out of military stockpiles as it provided Ukraine with an overwhelming amount of military support.
"This war has also been a wake-up call for all of us about our military capabilities. We have given weapons to Ukraine, but in so doing, we realised that our military stockpiles have been depleted. With conventional war returning to the heart of Europe, we also realized that we are lacking critical defense capabilities, to be able to protect ourselves from a higher level of threats on the European continent itself," he said in a statement.
On Thursday, Borrell said before a meeting of the EDA (European Defense Agency) 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.
"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."
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.