“Your association has taken a significant role in fostering public awareness of nuclear disarmament and has led to its advancement.”
– Kazi Matsui
Mayor of Hiroshima
June 2, 2022
Gabriela Iveliz Rosa Hernández

How to Strengthen the NPT

State Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) finally met in New York at the Tenth Review Conference (RevCon) — and at a moment when the international strategic environment is more unsettled than usual. This RevCon’s goal is similar to others, where NPT signatories are tasked with producing a consensus document that reviews implementation and compliance, and establishes updated commitments, recommendations, and follow-up steps for actions to advance the goals and objectives of the treaty in the future. But this is no ordinary RevCon. Russia’s unprovoked full-scale invasion of...

A Case for More Oversight of Military Aid to Ukraine



Volume 14, Issue 6, August 9, 2022

Even before Russia’s unprovoked, full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the United States and some of its allies were providing weapons to Kyiv. In the immediate aftermath of Russia's assault, the United States and its allies rushed additional and more advanced weaponry to Ukraine to help the government fend off the Russian offensive and improve Ukraine’s bargaining position in future negotiations on an end to the war.

The United States alone has committed $9.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration. In July, the first lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, appealed to Congress for more weapons. “I’m asking for something now I would never want to ask. I’m asking for weapons, weapons that would not be used to wage a war on somebody else’s land, but to protect one’s home in the right to wake up alive in that home, I’m asking for air defense systems in order for rockets not to kill children in their strollers, in order for rockets not to destroy children’s rooms and kill entire families,” Zelenska said July 20.

Currently, there are no signs that Russia seeks any sort of negotiation nor that it will cease to brutally attack Ukraine. On July 24, Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, blatantly admitted that Russia sought to “help the Ukrainian people to free themselves from their anti-people and anti-historical regime” during his trip to Egypt after denying that Russia sought regime change in Kyiv multiple times in the past.

Pallets of ammunition bound for Ukraine are secured onto a commercial plane during a security assistance mission at Dover Air Force Base, Del., July 21, 2022. (Photo: Air Force Senior Airman Faith Schaefer)

Russia’s brutal full-scale invasion of Ukraine has now entered its sixth month, but arming Ukraine comes with potential security risks and consequences. These risks include equipment being sold for monetary gain within or outside of Ukraine and arms entering the illegal arms market, especially after the end of the conflict as commonly happens in any conflict. At the moment, there is no evidence that weapons sent to Ukraine are getting into the wrong hands. However, Europe, Ukraine, and the United States must work to mitigate these risks. As Ukrainians valiantly fight for their country against unprovoked aggression, the United States and its partners must improve oversight mechanisms to ensure they are used for their intended purpose and prevent arms supplies from falling into the wrong hands, especially after the end of the war.

In partial recognition of these needs, the EU launched a new platform in mid-July with the inclusion of its Ukrainian and Moldovan counterparts to discuss how to prepare to tackle organized crime in connection with the war in Ukraine. EU Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson announced that the main subject on the agenda was illegal arms smuggling of weapons originally sent to the Ukrainian armed forces. 

“We have some indications [of this already happening], but we also know by experience that this very often happens, that firearms travel around afterward or during the war,” said Johansson despite providing little evidence that this was occurring.

On July 22, Europol stated that it was working with Ukrainian officials to reduce the risk of illegal arms trafficking into the European Union. Europol noted that it had full confidence in its Ukrainian partners as they implement new measures to mitigate these risks.

Concerns about the issue from foreign partners prompted politicians and lawmakers in Ukraine to call for and establish a special monitoring committee of their own. On July 19, the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament of Ukraine, created a temporary oversight committee to particularly track the use and receipt of arms transferred to their country by international partners. More recently, The Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security under the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine refuted allegations about Western arms disappearing in Ukraine in a CBS News documentary titled “Arming Ukraine” by declaring that a EUCOM Control Center of Ukraine operates in Stuttgart, Germany directly oversees the provision of weapons and their use.

In addition, the Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security under the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine also announced on August 7 that Brigadier General Gerrick M. Harmon, Senior Defense Official and Defense Attaché of the United States, has been put in charge of overseeing the transfer and use of these weapons by Kyiv. Overall, these and other measures will help Ukraine monitor the use of these weapons and counter Russian allegations and misinformation about lax export controls.

The Call to Arm Ukraine and The Risks

The United States and its allies have committed a wide range of weapons to Ukraine. According to the most recent fact sheet released by the Department of Defense, the U.S. has contributed hundreds of howitzers, 400,000 artillery rounds, 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 6,500 javelin anti-armor systems, loitering munitions, MANPADS, and 16 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and ammunition, among other weaponry.1

To facilitate these arms transfers, the Biden administration has employed rarely used legal authorities to accelerate weapons transfers to Ukraine (See ACT May 2022). In late April, U.S. officials declared an emergency under the Foreign Military Sale Program to provide Ukraine with over $165 million of ammunition. By invoking this authority, the executive branch is allowed to bypass mandatory congressional review periods before concluding the arms sale. Congress then approved the Ukraine Democracy Defend Lend-Lease Act, which removes some obstructions to providing Ukraine and other Eastern European countries with defense assistance. And, the May approval of a $40 billion emergency allocation for Ukrainian and European security contained little constraints as to how the executive branch can use these funds.

Allies have also promised—and delivered in some instances—a diverse set of sophisticated equipment. For instance, France notably sent Caesar self-propelled Howitzers, Poland signed a contract with Ukraine to deliver Krab self-propelled Howitzers among other equipment, and Canada notably delivered M777s. On top of this, countries such as Australia, the UK, Norway, Italy, and Greece pledged critically needed artillery systems and ammunition, and recently, Germany announced that Ukraine had finally received the heavy weapons that it had pledged to deliver months ago such as the first Gepard anti-aircraft vehicles and ammunitions, plus the Multiple Rocket Launchers Mars II and self-propelled Howitzers. Not to mention the thousands of small arms provided.

Along with committing a diverse set of military weaponry, the West has also been training Ukrainians to use them. This appears to be a long-term commitment and one designed to overhaul Ukraine’s weapons inventory as NATO’s Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, stated on June 27 that “over the longer term, we will help Ukraine transition from Soviet-era military equipment, to modern NATO equipment. And further, strengthen its defense and security institutions.”

Providing such training in the middle of a war and doing so without putting U.S. and allied combat forces on the ground in Ukraine creates training challenges. In April, the Pentagon confirmed that it would resume direct weapons training of the Ukrainian military on the howitzers, counter artillery radar systems, and other equipment as part of the assistance packages, but do so outside of Ukraine. Canada similarly confirmed that it was training Ukrainian soldiers to use M777s elsewhere in Europe. In July, London announced that up to 10,000 recruits from Ukraine would arrive in the UK for specialized military training.

Training also takes time, which must be factored into all decisions. This was notable when the Pentagon announced in June that it would be transferring the HIMARS as Russia made several advances in its attempt to take the Donbas region through its use of heavy artillery. The Pentagon stated that it would take about three weeks to teach Ukrainians how to operate these systems, and another few weeks to teach them how to maintain them. However, those tasked with maintenance would not necessarily operate them.

Throughout the conflict, concerns about escalation and its shifting dynamics have been front and center and are expected to continue. In response, the United States has set limits on certain systems like the HIMARS. On May 31, President Biden declared in an op-ed in The New York Times that the United States would “not encourage or enable Ukraine to strike beyond its borders.” The Pentagon announced that it would only provide Ukraine with munitions up to 70 km in approximate range for the HIMARS, a system that the Ukrainians had been requesting for over two months. As pointed out by the Stimson Center, this transfer may have set a significant precedent for U.S. arms transfers, for the United States had earlier only transferred the system to select partners.

Questions about the conditionality established through agreements between the United States and Ukraine regarding the use of these weapons are also likely to return. On June 1, the Pentagon declared that Ukraine had given assurances that it would not use the HIMARS to strike targets beyond its borders.

Nonetheless, when asked about the repercussions if Ukraine violates these assurances during a news conference, DoD Undersecretary for Policy, Dr. Colin Kahl replied that “they've given us their assurances that they're not going to use these systems for striking Russian territory. And we trust the Ukrainians will live up to those assurances.” On July 20, the DoD assured that the Ukrainians are effectively using the HIMARS by targeting Russian ammunition depots and have made due on their assurances.

In recent weeks, Ukraine has requested even longer-range ammunition such as the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). At a recent DoD news conference, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III replied that the weaponry that Ukraine received “has really given them a lot of capability” and the decision on longer-range weapons will “be based upon how they're prosecuting this fight and what their needs are.

However, at the Aspen Security Forum in late July, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reiterated that President Biden had said that there were certain capabilities that the Biden administration was not prepared to provide. “One of them is long-range missiles, ATACMS that have a range of 300 kilometers (max range)” because of escalation concerns.Just a week later, CNN reported that House Representative Elissa Slotkin said that there was bipartisan support to provide Ukraine with ATACMS, which can strike as far as 180 miles.

Oversight Initiatives

Ukraine’s Minister of Defense, Oleksii Reznikov, told the BBC on July 15 that the weapon smuggling narrative is part of a Russian disinformation campaign, but he also confirmed what analysts following the conflict have known and predicted for months: that a limited number of Western weapons (some next generation Light Anti-tank Weapons) have fallen into Russian hands when Ukrainian troops retreated from certain cities in the Donbas as it happens in every war. As the media has extensively noted, Ukrainian forces have also acquired Russian equipment, especially following the retreat of Russian forces from the Kyiv axis earlier in the war.

As for monitoring, Reznikov affirmed that Ukraine uses a NATO logistics and account control system in a limited but functional way and that he has invited foreign emissaries to observe. Reznikov also stated that representatives of some of Ukraine’s partners had already done this and had no questions. Additionally, Reznikov clarified that some of the weapons sent to Ukraine possess GPS trackers. This move and the creation of the temporary special commission entrusted to the Verkhovna Rada to oversee weapons transfers during martial law are good first steps toward addressing the risks of weapons transfers.

The development of arms transfer monitoring mechanisms shows that Ukraine is willing to be transparent with its Western partners and work toward the standardization of an oversight initiative.2 During the first few months of the war, such initiatives were understandably difficult to execute because of active combat and the security concerns around the transfer of these weapons.

Nonetheless, Ukraine needs not only needs to continue to be transparent with its Western partners about its use of foreign-supplied weaponry, but also with its own people. To do this, they need to continue to develop their own capacity for accountability. As we are now entering the sixth month of this brutal war and Ukrainian civil society experts have a key role to play in ensuring oversight and advising the Ukrainian government via workshops, roundtables, and/or working groups while taking into account the security concerns regarding the weapons deliveries.3

In the United States, members of Congress and many others have voiced their concerns regarding the subject and continue to do so. While Senator Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) efforts to condition the $40 billion package in May upon establishing an inspector general for its spending, the law does include requirements for the Defense Department’s inspector general to provide a report on the funds within 120 days, a report on end-use monitoring efforts within 45 days, and an unclassified report every 30 days detailing defense articles and services provided to Ukraine. Congress should pay special attention to such reports and work with Ukrainian officials as they further implement new measures to improve their capacity to absorb these weapons deliveries.

In late June, the Pentagon announced that it was considering sending weapons inspectors to Ukraine. Lawmakers have also pushed for further oversight. A June letter from the DoD Acting Inspector General to Senator Charles E Grassley (R-Iowa) reveals that the Inspector General office had partnered with Inspector General offices at the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development to form a joint working group.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)In May, Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a bill to establish a Special Inspector General for Ukraine to oversee the use of these funds to assist Ukraine. Just a month later, Rep. Bob Wittman (R-Va.) introduced companion legislation to Senator Kennedy’s bill in the House to introduce a special inspector to oversee how aid packages are appropriately spent. Earlier this month, Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) wrote a letter to President Joe Biden requesting rigor and accountability when it came to the assistance provided to Ukraine among other allegations.

As colleagues from the Stimson center point out in Defense One, the United States should develop a plan and mechanisms to account for the weapons provided. The United States should also engage with external experts from civil society and provide detailed information about the procedures undertaken to track these weapons and ammunition stockpiles.

The possibility of arms supplies getting into the wrong hands is not unique to the military assistance that the United States is providing to Ukraine although it would not be fair to state that the case of weapons assistance to Ukraine is a replica or even compares to the case of Iraq or Afghanistan. Yet poor military equipment accountability practices are common in active combat zones. For instance, SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) reports and congressional hearings in the last decade noted poor accountability when it came to small arms deliveries in Afghanistan due to poor record keeping when they were received in Afghanistan along with other funds. Proper accountability was also an issue in Iraq. The Center for Civilians In Conflict and other organizations have also pointed out the shortcomings of U.S. monitoring practices.

It is very likely that for the foreseeable future the United States will continue to provide Ukraine with very substantial military assistance in accordance with the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces. Further oversight of the assistance provided to Ukraine can ensure the weapons are used for the intended purposes (to assist Ukrainians in the defense of their country) and are not diverted elsewhere. Transparency is the best antidote when it comes to countering attempts to ruin Ukraine’s credibility in the face of aggression, especially, when military aid from Ukraine’s partners is so crucial for Ukraine to defend its sovereign territory. Thus, every party has something to gain through enhancing transparency.—GABRIELA ROSA, research associate



1. For more details and a timeline of arms transfers to Ukraine, see the Forum on the Arms Trade's resource "Arms Transfers to Ukraine," https://www.forumarmstrade.org/ukrainearms.html, Accessed Aug. 9, 2022.

2. ACA Interview with anonymous Ukrainian civilian.

3. ACA Interviews with Dr. Olya Oliker (Director of Europe and Central Asia Department at the International Crisis Group) and anonymous Ukrainian civilian experts.


For the foreseeable future, the United States will likely continue to provide Ukraine with substantial military assistance in accordance with the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces to repel the Russian offensive. Oversight of the assistance provided to Ukraine can ensure the weapons are used for the intended purposes and not diverted elsewhere, especially after the conflict.

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NATO Strengthens Eastern Flank, Eyes Russia, China

July/August 2022
By Gabriela Rosa Hernández

NATO leaders have approved a new strategic concept, announced major plans to strengthen the military force posture, and agreed to begin accepting two new members as the alliance continues to push back against an increasingly aggressive Russia and a rising China.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson (L) shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid on June 28. The talks, which also included Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, appeared to resolve Turkey's objections over Finland and Sweden joining NATO. (Photo by Henrik Montgomery/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)In a world where “pervasive instability, rising strategic competition and advancing authoritarianism challenge the alliance’s interests and values…[w]e will significantly strengthen our deterrence and defense posture to deny any potential adversary any possible opportunities for aggression,” they declared in the strategic concept, the blueprint of alliance goals and principles.

The NATO summit in Madrid on June 29–30 opened on a strong note after Finland, Sweden, and Turkey signed a trilateral memorandum clearing the way for the Nordic states to join the alliance. Turkey lifted its hold on the membership bids after 11th-hour talks on June 28. As a result, Turkey received assurances that Finland and Sweden would commit to preventing the activities of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has killed civilians in Turkey, and other terrorist organizations. Meanwhile, the United States signaled a new willingness to sell upgraded F-16 jet fighters to Turkey.

Guided by the strategic concept, the new force plans include deployment of a brigade-level military presence on NATO’s eastern flank and an increase in its high-readiness joint task force from 40,000 troops to 300,000 troops by 2023. The alliance also agreed to prioritize the integration of air and missile defenses in its deterrence and defense posture.

Although NATO members reaffirmed that arms control, disarmament, and meaningful reciprocal dialogue are imperative to Euro-Atlantic security, they also asserted a robust recommitment to NATO’s nuclear capabilities in order “to preserve the peace, prevent coercion and deter aggression.”

The main difference from the previous strategic concept, released more than a decade ago, appears to be an acknowledgement that NATO is operating in a radically different security environment, with Russia now identified as the most pressing challenge. “The Euro-Atlantic area is not at peace. [Russia] has violated the norms and principles that contributed to a stable and predictable security order,” the new strategic concept states.

By contrast, NATO members in the 2010 concept envisioned a true strategic partnership with Russia and viewed the NATO-Russia Council, established more than 20 years ago by the NATO-Russia Founding Act, as a crucial mechanism for dialogue and joint action.

By 2021 the tone was already changing as NATO deemed Russia a threat. “We face multifaceted threats, systemic competition from assertive and authoritarian powers,” NATO leaders said in a statement at the time. “Russia’s aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security.”

The allies also first acknowledged that China’s growing influence presented a challenge. (See ACT, April 2021.) The new strategic concept takes that further and says China’s “malicious hybrid and cyber operations and its confrontational rhetoric and disinformation target allies and harm alliance security.”

The new concept highlights numerous issues of strategic importance for the alliance defense and deterrence force posture, including air and missile defense capabilities. In NATO’s determination to “defend every inch of allied territory…we will ensure a substantial and persistent presence on land, at sea, and in the air, including through strengthened integrated air and missile defense,” the concept says. The move reflects NATO’s concerns about Russia’s indiscriminate use of missile systems in Ukraine. (See ACT, June 2022.) The concept also emphasizes the importance of new and emerging technologies. To this end, NATO leaders agreed to launch a $1 billion fund for emerging technologies.

Despite the shifts in force posture, NATO leaders reaffirmed the importance of arms control to a credible deterrence posture and reiterated their commitment to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Nonetheless, the new concept does not provide a strategy for moving forward with nuclear arms control and disarmament and does not differ from NATO’s previous policy. The new concept states that the allies “will pursue all elements of strategic risk reduction, including promoting confidence building and predictability through dialogue.”

Effectively, the new security environment is accelerating existing NATO policies. When the Soviet Union collapsed, NATO withdrew nearly all forward-based troops from Eastern Europe. After Russia’s illegal invasion of Crimea in 2014, the alliance developed an “enhanced forward presence” comprising four rotational multinational battle groups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland as a trip wire to deter Russia. NATO also increased military exercises in the Black Sea. (See ACT, June 2022.)

After Russia invaded Ukraine, the alliance doubled the number of rotational multinational battlegroups; established four more battlegroups, in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia; and placed more than 40,000 troops under direct NATO command. These troops are part of NATO’s Response Force, a multinational, multidomain force that can be deployed quickly. NATO also expanded its air police missions and military exercises.

At the summit, the alliance reinforced its military position in other ways. The multinational battlegroups established in 2016 on the alliance’s eastern flank will be enhanced up to brigade levels. After 2016, the battlegroups totaled about 3,000 troops. In June 2022, NATO said the approximate troop strength in all battlegroups, including in Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia was 9,641. NATO’s high-readiness joint task force, which NATO said had 4,000 troops in 2021 and 40,000 after Russia’s invasion, will be increased to 300,000 troops under a new force model.

U.S. President Joe Biden announced that these new deployments would include additional U.S. forces in Europe, including, but not limited to, a permanent headquarters in Poland for the U.S. Army Fifth Corps, enhanced rotational deployments in the Baltics, and an additional brigade in Romania underscoring continued U.S. leadership in supporting European security. “Earlier this year, we surged 20,000 additional U.S. forces to Europe to bolster our alliance in response to Russia’s aggressive move, bringing our force total in Europe to 100,000,” Biden said.

Russia’s reaction was swift, with media quoting President Vladimir Putin as saying, “We have nothing to worry about in terms of Finland and Sweden's membership in NATO. They want to join NATO—please. Only they should clearly imagine that there were no threats to them before, but if military contingents and infrastructure are deployed there, we will have to respond in a mirror manner.”

Before the summit, analysts wondered if NATO would ditch its commitments under the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, which stipulated that NATO has no intention, reason, or plan to deploy nuclear weapons, or nuclear storage sites, in the territories of states that joined NATO after the Soviet Union disintegrated.

Although the new strategic concept did not formally abrogate the act, NATO is looking at conventional options to strengthen deterrence beyond the limits implied in the act. The act’s “substantial combat forces pledge” states that NATO will not permanently deploy substantial conventional forces, assumed to mean more than one brigade, in new member states. Russia has accused NATO of violating the act with rotational deployments. At the summit, NATO did not announce a permanent force deployment in the Baltic states and likely will argue, in response to Russian accusations, that rotational forces do not violate the act. Possible contributions by Finland and Sweden are not included.

“Russia has walked away from the NATO-Russia Founding Act, and while that is unfortunate, it’s done, and we are certainly going to look at conventional deployments that would not be necessarily considered under the NATO-Russia Founding Act. But more importantly, I think we just don’t think it applies anymore to the world that we’re facing,” a high-ranking NATO official told Arms Control Today.

At the summit, the allies agreed on a comprehensive assistance package for Ukraine. “Over the longer term, we will help Ukraine transition from Soviet-era military equipment to modern NATO equipment and further strengthen its defense and security institutions,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

The leaders also recommitted themselves to the alliance’s long-standing open-door policy and formally invited Finland and Sweden to join. (See ACT, June 2022.) Next, the parliaments of NATO’s 30 member states must ratify Finland’s and Sweden’s accession protocols.

NATO approved a new strategic concept, announced plans to boost its military force, and began accepting
two new members as it pushed back against Russia and China.

States-Parties Meet on Nuclear Arms Ban Treaty

July/August 2022
By Gabriela Rosa Hernández and Daryl G. Kimball

The first meeting of states-parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has produced an ambitious 50-point action plan and several decisions designed to implement the 2017 agreement. It also adopted a political statement that aims, in part, to reinforce norms against nuclear weapons use and threat of use.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres (on screen) speaks during First Meeting of States-Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in Vienna on June 21. The treaty, which bans nuclear weapons, has been ratified by 66 countries. Notable holdouts are the United States and other nuclear-weapon states.  (Photo by Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images)“We will not rest until the last state has joined the treaty, the last warhead has been dismantled and destroyed, and nuclear weapons have been eliminated from this earth,” delegates said in a joint declaration issued at the close of the meeting.

“We stress that any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is a violation of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations. We condemn unequivocally any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances,” the declaration added.

The June 21–23 meeting in Vienna occurred at a moment of unprecedented post-Cold War instability as Russia wages war against Ukraine. To date, 86 states have signed and 66 states have ratified the treaty, which prohibits the possession, development, transfer, testing, use, or threat of use of nuclear weapons. The TPNW entered into force in January 2021.

The condemnation represents the strongest multilateral criticism of such nuclear threats since the UN General Assembly approved a resolution on March 2 condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin’s decision to increase the readiness of his nuclear forces. There have also been exchanges of nuclear threats between the United States and North Korea in 2017 and Pakistan’s reference to the possibility of nuclear war with India in 2019, according to a TPNW conference working paper. Most recently, Russia threatened to use nuclear weapons if NATO members intervene militarily in the war in Ukraine. (See ACT, April 2022.)

In a statement issued June 24 by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, the Russian government rejected the criticism. “There have never been any ‘nuclear threats’ from Russia and never are. The Russian approach to this issue is based solely on the logic of deterrence.”

Calling NATO actions to be “dangerously balancing on the verge of a direct armed conflict with our country,” she argued that “the logic of deterrence remains an effective way to prevent a nuclear collision and large-scale wars.”

Several states-parties at the Vienna meeting expressed deep concerns about the risks posed by the dangerous nuclear deterrence policies espoused by Russia and the eight other nuclear-armed states and their allies. “The logic that nuclear deterrence provides security is a fundamental error because deterrence requires credibility, meaning the readiness to actually use these weapons. This is nothing less than a massive nuclear sword of Damocles hanging over the head of all of us, of all of humanity. We must take and we have taken a different path,” declared Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg at the beginning of the conference.

Many TPNW delegations joined Schallenberg in expressing concern about the risks posed by nuclear deterrence policies of the nine nuclear-armed states and their allies.

Led by conference president Alexander Kmentt, the Austrian director of disarmament, arms control, and nonproliferation, states-parties made several decisions that will shape the treaty’s future. These include implementing treaty obligations to assist people affected by nuclear weapons use and nuclear test explosions and designating a competent international authority to monitor treaty implementation and compliance. In addition, the conference agreed on steps to promote further TPNW ratifications and to establish a scientific advisory group on the technical aspects of the treaty, including the risks and consequences of nuclear weapons and their use.

The conference statement also expressed deep concern with the fact that none of the nuclear-armed states are taking serious steps to reduce dependence on nuclear weapons. “Instead, all nuclear-armed [states] are spending vast sums to modernize, upgrade, or expand their nuclear arsenals and placing a greater emphasis and increasing the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines,” the declaration said.

According to a 2022 report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, nuclear arsenals are expected to grow in the coming decade, despite a marginal decrease in the number of nuclear warheads in 2021. The two largest nuclear weapons possessors, Russia and the United States, have suspended discussions on a follow-on arms control agreement to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which will expire in 2026.

States-parties also agreed on steps relating to their obligations under treaty articles VI and VII to address the harm from the use and testing of nuclear weapons, including the establishment of an international trust fund for assisting health issues in affected states and for environmental remediation.

They pledged to pursue high-level engagement with states that have not joined the treaty, which was negotiated by more than 120 countries but not the nuclear-armed states.

In 2021, NATO members declared their opposition to the treaty in the Brussels summit communiqué, saying, “We reiterate our opposition to the [TPNW] which is inconsistent with the alliance’s nuclear deterrence policy, is at odds with the existing non-proliferation and disarmament architecture, risks undermining the [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)], and does not take into account the current security environment.”

Yet, NATO member states and close U.S. allies such as Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway attended the first meeting of states-parties as observers.

Germany and Norway delivered statements that reiterated NATO’s declaratory policy regarding the treaty. “As a member to NATO, and as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance, and confronted with an openly aggressive Russia, which has not only invaded Ukraine but is threatening the rules-based international order and peace in Europe, Germany cannot accede to the TPNW, which would collide with our membership in NATO including nuclear deterrence,” Rüdiger Bohn, the German deputy commissioner for arms control and disarmament and head of the German delegation, told the conference.

But he pledged that Germany would seek to engage “in constructive dialogue and exploring opportunities for practical cooperation” with TPNW states.

Jørn Osmundsen, Norwegian special envoy for disarmament affairs, also laid down caveats. “Norway is attending this conference as an observer,” he stressed. “This is not a step towards signing the TPNW, which would be incompatible with our NATO obligations. Norway stands fully behind NATO’s nuclear posture.”

The TPNW conference reaffirmed that the treaty is designed to complement and strengthen the existing nonproliferation and disarmament regime. “In the absence of an enabling legally binding framework and the slow pace of implementation of agreed disarmament commitments, the TPNW’s negotiation and adoption is an effort by nonnuclear-weapon states to make progress towards the full implementation of Article VI of the NPT…[which is] an obligation for all NPT states-parties,” according to a conference working paper developed by Ireland and Thailand in advance of the meeting of states-parties.

States-parties agreed to pursue further discussions about establishing or designating a competent international authority to monitor and verify the disarmament process. They acknowledged the need to elaborate on what procedure and timeline should follow in case a state wishes to disarm and remove nuclear weapons from its territory. (See ACT, May 2021.)

Prior to the TPNW meeting, Austria hosted a fourth conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons with the goal of bringing together different actors from civil society, academia, and survivors to discuss these issues. Similar conferences in Oslo (March 2013); Nayarit, Mexico (February 2014); and Vienna (December 2014) helped propel non-nuclear-weapon states to launch the negotiations that produced the TPNW in 2017.

The TPNW meeting named Juan Ramón de la Fuente, Mexico’s UN ambassador, to serve as president of the second TPNW meeting of states-parties, which will be held in New York on November 27–December 1, 2023.

The first meeting of states-parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons declared, “We will not rest until…the last warhead has been…destroyed.”

States Prepare for Nonproliferation Conference

July/August 2022
By Gabriela Rosa Hernández

States-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) will convene in August to discuss the future of arms control at a moment when the international strategic environment is more unsettled than any time since the Cold War.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, shown at an international economic forum in St. Petersburg in June, looms large over the 10th Review Conference of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty scheduled for August 1–26 at UN headquarters. (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images).After multiple delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 10th NPT Review Conference, set for UN headquarters on Aug. 1–26, will seek to bolster the landmark treaty against the backdrop of Russia’s nuclear threats and its war on Ukraine.

The Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, which gave up the nuclear weapons on its territory in return for security assurances, has raised serious doubts about the intentions of Russia, a leading nuclear-weapon state that, along with the United Kingdom and the United States, promised in 1994 to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has played up his country’s nuclear weapons status (see ACT, June 2022) to keep NATO members from interfering as Russian forces conduct a brutal military campaign, now largely focused on the Donbas and southern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, arms control and nonproliferation challenges are intensifying. In early June, the United Nations revealed that Iran has enough uranium to produce a nuclear weapon if the uranium is enriched further to weapons grade. Efforts to bring Iran and the United States back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, are stalled. China and North Korea are building up their nuclear arsenals, while Russia and the United States have discontinued bilateral discussions about their own nuclear programs.

Given such divisions and competing agendas, it is unclear how much the review conference could achieve. Although a consensus document would be ideal, some officials argue that that is not the only metric by which to measure success. “The absence of consensus will not necessarily undermine the [nonproliferation] regime,” Izumi Nakamitsu, the UN high representative for disarmament affairs, said in a speech to the Arms Control Association’s 50th anniversary meeting on June 2. “What will jeopardize the NPT and the tangible benefits it provides is if states-parties do not approach the review conference with a willingness to listen, negotiate and compromise.”

Nakamitsu warned that a review conference wracked by divisive actions will endanger the central role of the treaty and “we don’t want to see that happening.” She urged nuclear-weapon states to reaffirm their commitment to the norm against nuclear weapons use and to agree to nuclear risk reduction measures.

Many experts view the conference as an opportunity to strengthen the NPT. “A frontal assault on the key concepts of the NPT by the Russian Federation [during the war against Ukraine] makes everything harder, but it is also an opportunity,” said Thomas Countryman, a consultant to the U.S. State Department’s delegation to the conference, who also spoke at the Arms Control Association meeting.

“I think it reinforces what most nations should feel, that this is not just a review conference, one in a series, [but] this is happening when basic tenets of the treaty are being undermined, and therefore, there is a need better than ever to come to the defense of the treaty, to reiterate that it is not just relevant, but important and central to the global rules-based order and that we are determined to strengthen it against all challenges,” Countryman said.

The 10th nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference takes place at a crucial moment for the future of arms control.

Finland, Sweden Apply to Join NATO

June 2022
By Gabriela Rosa Hernández

Finland and Sweden have applied to join NATO, abandoning their long-standing military neutrality in the face of Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine. The May 18 move signals an expected expansion of the alliance in ways that would have been unthinkable only a few months ago. It is widely seen as a political defeat for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who for years worked hard to tear the alliance apart and insisted that no new members be added.

U.S. President Joe Biden (C) moved quickly to host Finnish President Sauli Niinisto (L) and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson at the White House on May 19 in support of a decision by the two Nordic countries to apply for NATO membership. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)Sweden declared its intentions to seek NATO membership on May 15, shortly after Finland confirmed its move. Three days later, the countries filed formal applications at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

All of NATO’s 30 members must approve the new allies, a process that could take up to a year. In a surprise development, Hungary and Turkey, two NATO countries ruled by authoritarians, raised objections to the membership applications in what diplomatic sources described as an apparent attempt to gain political concessions driven by their national interests and desire to play to domestic audiences.

U.S. and European officials expressed confidence that any differences can be worked out. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on May 15 that the membership process could be very quick, according to media reports, and U.S. officials acted as if it were a done deal. But the Hungarian and Turkish obstructions cast a cloud over the historic Nordic shift.

U.S. President Joe Biden moved to speed the process and reinforce a sense of acceptance by inviting Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson to the White House on May 19. In a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, he said he was submitting immediately to the Senate the treaty language needed to make the two countries the newest members of the alliance.

“Finland and Sweden make NATO stronger,” Biden said. “They’re strong, strong democracies, and a strong, united NATO is the foundation of America’s security.”

Biden warned Russia that the United States would “deter and confront any aggression while Finland and Sweden are in this accession process” before they formally are accepted into an alliance whose core commitment is that “an attack on one is an attack on all.” Although Biden’s pledge is far short of a treaty, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on May 18 that the United States “will not tolerate any aggression against Finland or Sweden during this process.”

At the White House, Andersson said that “Russia’s full-scale aggression against a sovereign and democratic neighbor…was a watershed moment for Sweden, and my government has come to the conclusion that the security of the Swedish people will be best protected within the NATO alliance.”

As Finland and Sweden began taking formal steps to join NATO, Swedish Army troops, here camouflaging an armoured vehicle, participated in military exercises on the Swedish island of Gotland in May. (Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images) Finland and Sweden were nonaligned during the Cold War and maintained formal military neutrality even as their armed forces contributed to Western operations. Both countries are considered to be NATO’s closest geopolitical partners, possessing vibrant democracies, strong economies, and competent militaries. Since Russia invaded Ukraine and upended European stability, Finland and Sweden have become increasingly unsettled by the Russian threat and experienced a stunning surge in support among their politicians and publics to seek security in the alliance.

As late as March 8, two weeks after the invasion began, Andersson, Sweden’s Social Democratic leader, said that her party was opposed to joining NATO. Sweden consulted closely during the decision-making process with Finland, which led the way on the NATO issue.

“Military nonalignment has served Sweden well, but our conclusion is that it will not serve us equally well in the future,” Andersson told a press conference on May 15 in Stockholm in announcing her country’s NATO decision. “This is not a decision to be taken lightly.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said Turkey’s objection stems from opposition to Sweden’s and, to a lesser extent, Finland’s perceived support for the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and an armed group in Syria that Turkey sees as an extension of the PKK. Ankara’s conflict with the PKK, a Turkish separatist group, has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984.

Putin has long opposed NATO and before the invasion had demanded that the alliance cease adding new members.

Russia has responded to the Finnish and Swedish decisions by threatening retaliation, including unspecified “military-technical measures,” Reuters reported. Yet, Niniisto spoke to Putin on May 14 and said later that their conversation was measured and did not contain any threats. “He confirmed that he thinks [the decision to join NATO is] a mistake. We are not threatening you. Altogether, the discussion was very, could I say, calm and cool,” Niinisto said in an interview with CNN. The Kremlin described the exchange as frank and said the change of course in foreign policy could negatively affect Finnish-Russian relations.

On May 16, Putin said in his speech to the Collective Security Treaty Organization summit that the fact of Finland and Sweden becoming NATO members would not in itself be a direct threat to Russia, but the expansion of NATO’s military infrastructure to these countries would certainly provoke a response. Previously, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov told Kommersant that “the next expansion of NATO does not make our continent more stable and secure” and will require that Russia undertake a “special analysis and development of the necessary measures in order to balance the situation and ensure our security.”

Russia’s war on Ukraine has driven the two Nordic countries to abandon their military neutrality.

War in Ukraine Driving NATO Revamp

June 2022
By Gabriela Rosa Hernández

As the Russian war against Ukraine grinds on, the conflict is propelling a fundamental revamp of the U.S. and NATO military arsenals, as well as an unprecedented buildup of Ukraine’s war-fighting capacity. If the current trend continues, the result is likely to be a collection of much stronger, more modern Western militaries arrayed along the border with Russia, just as that country’s own military underperforms in Ukraine, experts and alliance officials say.

General Pierre Schill (R), chief of staff of the French Army, visits French troops deployed with NATO in Cincu, Romania in May 2022. (Photo by Didier Lauras/AFP via Getty Images)The United States and its allies have spent billions of dollars arming Ukraine since the Russian invasion on Feb. 24. As Russia struggles to maintain control of the fight in the Donbas in eastern Ukraine, it has continued to fire all kinds of missiles targeting key weapons facilities and industrial bases. On May 2, the U.S. Defense Department reported observing more than 2,125 Russian missile launches since the beginning of the invasion. While the barrage continues, the allies are not only learning valuable lessons about how these conventional missile systems are used and performing, but also taking steps to upgrade their own military equipment as they donate older models to Ukraine.

As one example, the allies have shifted to training Ukrainians to use Western military equipment as Ukrainian stockpiles of vintage Soviet-era systems have become depleted, according to PBS. Because of this, U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law on May 21 a $40 billion assistance package for Ukraine, bringing total U.S. assistance to roughly $54 billion.

The new package, in part, would reimburse the Defense Department for training and military education provided to Ukraine and to allies who aided Ukraine at the behest of the United States. This is in addition to weapons, logistic and radar system support, and intelligence provided directly to the Ukrainian military. The German Defense Ministry announced in May that it is training Ukrainians on using advanced self-propelled howitzers donated by Germany and the Netherlands, while Canada disclosed plans to train Ukrainians to use heavy artillery.

These packages are not only helping Ukraine modernize its force with NATO military equipment, but also allowing NATO European allies to replace their own Soviet-era arms stocks as they donate them to Ukraine. For instance, Biden announced in March that the United States would replace Slovakia’s Soviet-era S-300 air defense system with a U.S. Patriot system after Slovakia donated the S-300 system to Ukraine. In April, Poland signed a $4 billion deal to buy Abrams tanks from the United States. Defense News reported that the procurement would allow Poland to phase out its Soviet T-72 and PT-91 tanks with a new tracked vehicle platform, part of a broad U.S. effort to transition allies from dependence on Russian military equipment through the European Recapitalization Incentive Program. Under specific conditions, the program allows the U.S. State Department to allocate funds from the Foreign Military Financing program to specific countries to purchase U.S. defense articles, training, and services for their defense needs and thus reduce military dependence on Russia.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has accelerated this trend. As Poland donated a set of T-72 tanks to Ukraine, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government was considering donating Challenger II battle tanks to fill Poland’s defense gap. Although this transfer has not been confirmed directly, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on April 26 that Poland’s gap had been filled. He referred to U.S. and UK weapons provided to Poland since the beginning of the war. In the new $40 billion U.S. assistance package, about $4 billion is aimed at paying for European command operations and at helping NATO’s eastern flank countries, including with the deployment of another U.S. Patriot missile system. In late May, Poland said it would seek six more U.S. Patriot batteries and 500 HIMARS M142 launchers, a U.S. long range artillery rocket system.

Russia’s aggression has also propelled NATO to expedite plans to beef up the alliance’s conventional force posture. After Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the allies agreed in 2016 to establish a forward presence on NATO’s eastern front. By 2017, NATO established an “enhanced forward presence” composed of four rotating multinational battle groups, averaging about 1,000 troops each, in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. In the Black Sea, NATO developed a “tailored forward presence,” which focused on exercises and training opportunities overseen by its headquarters in Romania.

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told ACT that there were plans to increase further the troop presence on the alliance’s eastern front, but did not provide a timeline. Since the war began, NATO, citing the need for deterrence, has doubled its rotating multinational battle groups, establishing new groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. Also, battle groups in the Baltic states and Poland have significantly increased from about 5,000 troops to 18,200, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Reservists from the 2nd Estonian Infantry Brigade take part in maneuvers during a NATO exercise on the Estonian-Latvian border on May 25 in Voru, Estonia. Fifteen thousand troops from 14 countries are participating in one of the largest ever military exercises in the Baltics as NATO members funnel weapons and other assistance to Ukraine to beat back a Russian invasion. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Overall, more than 40,000 troops are now under direct NATO command on the alliance’s eastern front. In addition, The Washington Post reported in early April that the Pentagon had increased the number of U.S. military personnel in Europe from 60,000 to more than 100,000 since February 2022. The Post, quoting an anonymous senior defense official, also reported that there will be a permanent force posture change in Europe, including troops from other NATO member states and possibly including a greater U.S. presence. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated on April 5, “I believe a lot of our allies, especially those such as the Baltics or Poland or Romania…are very willing to establish permanent bases. They will build them and pay for them.”

Meanwhile, the alliance is keeping close track of Russian tactics. Russia claims it has used a variety of missiles to strike Ukraine, including expensive Kalibr cruise missiles, high-precision Oniks missiles, the Iskander missile system, and a dozen hypersonic missiles. Russia has destroyed or badly damaged a Ukrainian anti-ship missile facility near Kyiv, the Malyshev tank factory in Kharkiv, and heavy industrial complexes in the cities of Kharkiv, Mariupol, and Mykolaiv, a Ukrainian official told Foreign Policy. In late May, The Washington Post reported that Russia has also hit fuel and military supply depots, power stations, transportation infrastructure, and training centers in western Ukraine with its long-range precision-guided capabilities.

In numerous regional military exercises, the use of these systems in Europe was associated with deterrence, but now states will pay attention to the battlefield capability, use, and military units responsible for these systems when reflecting on their own force postures in Europe. These weapons “will no longer be perceived as a means of deterring a potential enemy, but as a weapon for real combat,” political scientist Pyotr Topychkanov wrote in Forbes.

One early indicator is the announcement by Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenka that Russia was interested in helping his country produce missiles such as the Iskander. In addition, Lukashenka recently said that Belarus received S-400 air defense systems from Russia.

The conflict is propelling big changes in U.S. and NATO arsenals as well as an unprecedented surge in Ukraine’s warfighting capacity.

U.S. Cites Arms Control Compliance Concerns

June 2022
By Gabriela Rosa Hernández & Leanne Quinn

Iran, Myanmar, Russia, and Syria have failed to uphold their commitments under the treaty banning chemical weapons, the U.S. State Department said in its annual compliance report on international nonproliferation and disarmament agreements and commitments released in April.

Three entities in China, a major producer of weapons such as this DF-5B intercontinental ballistic missile, were sanctioned by the United States in 2021 for providing goods and technology to Iran, North Korea and Syria that could assist in developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, according to a U.S. State Department report. (Photo by Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)The report, covering activities in 2021, reaffirmed U.S. concerns about activities at nuclear test sites in China and Russia and determined that North Korea and Syria have failed to comply with their obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

Although there are questions regarding transparency, the report reaffirmed that “Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities…necessary to produce a nuclear device.”

But Iran has continued to develop stocks of enriched uranium that are vital to produce sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon, as it has since after the United States withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The report also found that “Iran’s continued failure to fully cooperate with the [International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)] ongoing safeguards investigations raises concerns with regard to Iran’s compliance with its obligation to accept safeguards” under the NPT.

In a separate report monitoring international compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the State Department said that “Russia retains an undeclared chemical weapons program and has used chemical weapons twice in recent years,” referring to the assassination attempts on Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Russia and Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the United Kingdom. Sergei Skripal is a former Russian military intelligence officer.

The supplementary report was unable to reach a conclusion regarding whether China has fully met its obligations under the CWC due to China’s research into pharmaceutical-based agents and toxins with potential dual-use applications. The State Department also found that Russia, China, and North Korea have failed to comply with their commitments under the treaty prohibiting the use of biological weapons.

In regard to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the main report said the United States continues to adhere to a zero-yield standard. Although there were no new compliance developments involving Russia in 2021, the department repeated previous concerns that Russia “conducted supercritical nuclear weapons tests since renewing its nuclear explosive testing moratorium in 1996 and [that] concerns remain due to the uncertainty relating to activities at Novaya Zemlya,” one of two major former Soviet nuclear test sites. As for China, the reports identified no new compliance issues, but concerns remain about activities at the Lop Nur Nuclear Test Site.

Meanwhile, Syria and North Korea remain in outright violation of their NPT obligations. In Syria’s case, this includes refusing to provide any substantive information to the IAEA about the Al-Kibar reactor that was destroyed during an Israeli airstrike in 2007.

As for North Korea, the State Department said, “Irrespective of one’s interpretation of whether or not [North Korea’s] 2003 notice of withdrawal from the NPT became legally effective, [North Korea] remains subject to IAEA safeguards obligations” and has failed to comply.

China also has failed to adhere to its November 2000 commitment not to assist any country in developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. “In 2021, the United States imposed sanctions against three [Chinese] entities pursuant to the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act for transfers of proliferation-sensitive goods and technology,” the report said, without giving more details.

Russia was found in compliance with its obligations under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and with its Presidential Nuclear Initiatives obligations. (See ACT, April 2022.) The initiatives are a set of arms control agreements regarding tactical nuclear warheads.

In terms of conventional arms control agreements, the 2022 report does not include a section on the Open Skies Treaty, in contrast to its 2021 iteration, because the United States officially withdrew from the accord in November 2020. (See ACT, December 2020.)

The report accused Russia of selectively applying provisions of the Vienna Document, an agreement about confidence- and security-building measures in Europe that provides for the exchange and verification of information, and criticized Russia’s failure to respond to Ukraine’s inquiry regarding the Russian military buildup near the Ukrainian border in 2021.

“As of December 2021, Russia continued and intensified its military build-up and aggressive rhetoric towards Ukraine. While further information about Russian activities in 2022 will be covered in detail in the 2023 report, the United States now knows the build-up was a prelude to offensive action against Ukraine,” the report states.



Iran, Myanmar, Russia and Syria failed to uphold chemical weapons treaty commitments, the State Department reported.

Allies Step Up Military Support for Ukraine

May 2022
By Gabriela Rosa Hernández

The United States and its allies have shifted from providing small arms and defensive equipment to hastily ratcheting up deliveries of heavy weaponry to Ukraine as the brutal Russian war there intensifies.

President Joe Biden, at the White House, announced $800 million in U.S. military assistance to Ukraine on April 21.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)On April 21, U.S. President Joe Biden pledged $800 million in additional weaponry and $500 million in direct economic aid. More than $400 million in additional military aid was announced on April 24 when Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, bringing the total U.S. military assistance since the beginning of the war to $3.7 billion.

Biden significantly upped the ante on April 28 by announcing plans to seek an additional $33 billion from the U.S. Congress for Ukrainian and European security through September.

“Our support for Ukraine going forward will continue…until we see final success,” Blinken told a news conference with Austin on the Polish-Ukrainian border after their stealth visit to the Ukrainian capital.

“The bottom line is this: We don’t know how the rest of this war will unfold, but we do know that a sovereign, independent Ukraine will be around a lot longer than [Russian President] Vladimir Putin is on the scene.”

Austin said, “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” Russia “has already lost a lot of military capability and a lot of its troops, quite frankly, and we want to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce that capability,” he said.

The influx of weaponry so boosted Ukrainian resolve that Zelenskyy on April 22 expressed increasing confidence that his country would defeat Russian forces. He had told CNN on April 17 that Ukraine would not give up its territory and spent weeks pleading for faster Western arms deliveries and for heavier weapons to stave off a new Russian offensive.

Some Western officials and experts have worried that a surge in new, more lethal military investments could increase the risk of a direct NATO-Russian confrontation in part because they could be viewed as offensive instead of defensive. On April 14, Russia sent a formal diplomatic note to the United States warning that U.S. and NATO military shipments to Ukraine were “adding fuel” to the conflict and could bring “unpredictable consequences,” The Washington Post reported. Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the United States, reiterated the warning on April 25. “What the Americans are doing is pouring oil on the flames,” Antonov said, according to Al Jazeera. “I see only an attempt to raise the stakes, to aggravate the situation, to see more losses.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov escalated the rhetoric on April 26 when he told Russian state TV, “The danger [of nuclear war] is serious, real … NATO, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy.” But Ukraine and its allies played down the remarks.

Meanwhile, as the Ukrainians pressed the fight against their better-armed foe even as the extent of Russian brutality in Bucha, Mariupol, and elsewhere was laid bare, the United States and its allies increased the size and quality of their weapons deliveries.

“We’re in a critical window now of time where…they’re going to set the stage for the next phase of this war,” Biden said on April 21, referring to the Russian tactical shift to eastern Ukraine. The United States and its allies are “moving as fast as possible” to provide Ukraine with the equipment and weapons it needs, he added.

On April 5, the Czech Republic became the first country to send tanks to Ukraine, including more than a dozen T-72 tanks and armored personnel carriers, according to Reuters. Three days later, the Biden administration expressed gratitude to Slovakia for donating a Russian-made S-300 air defense system to Ukraine and said it would reposition a more modern U.S. Patriot missile system to Slovakia to ensure that the ally was not left undefended.

The Czech Republic announced that Czech defense companies would repair Ukrainian tanks and other military vehicles that have suffered damage during the fighting or needed servicing, Reuters reported on April 19. That same day, Slovakia also offered to repair Ukrainian military equipment, according to Euractiv.

After a heavy lobbying effort by Zelenskyy and members of the U.S. Congress, the Biden administration on April 13 approved a new defense package worth $800 million to help Ukrainian forces match the Russian technological advantage. The package included artillery systems, artillery rounds, additional helicopters, and armored personnel carriers. Washington also promised to enhance intelligence sharing. This comes on top of a $100 million aid package announced by Blinken in early April.

The weapons sent or headed to Ukraine include C-4, howitzers, Javelin anti-tank missiles, Mi-17 helicopters, armored Humvees, M113 personnel carriers, Switchblade drones, and M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel mines configured to be compliant with the Ottawa Convention, meaning they will be set to be “command detonated” (see page 34).

The Pentagon confirmed on April 19 that Ukraine received fighter airplanes and aircraft although officials refused to clarify what kind of aircraft were sent to Ukraine or their origin. The United States helped in transferring spare aircraft parts, according to France24. On April 20, the Ukrainian Air Force claimed it did not receive new aircraft from its partners but did receive enough spare parts and components for the restoration and repair of some of its aircraft. Such aid will allow Ukraine to put more equipment into service.

The April 21 military assistance package by the United States, following an equivalent $800 million package announced a week earlier, included 155 mm howitzers, 144,000 ammunition rounds, 72 tactical vehicles to tow 155 mm howitzers, more than 121 experimental Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems, plus spare parts and field equipment, according to a Pentagon fact sheet.

The Canadian government has delivered heavy artillery, including M777 howitzers and anti-armor ammunition, to Ukrainian forces, it said on April 21.

French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed on April 22 that France provided MILAN anti-tank guided missile systems and CAESAR artillery howitzers to Ukraine, Ouest-France reported. Macron also noted that the risk of escalation was very high and said that although Europe should help the Ukrainians, it cannot become a co-belligerent in the war.

In late March, the Russian Defense Ministry indicated that the first phase of its military operation in Ukraine had been completed and that it would focus on the liberation of the Donbas after it failed to seize Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.

As a result, Zelenskyy requested that the West and other countries provide his country with more lethal weaponry, including air defense systems, unmanned aviation vehicles, artillery systems, multiple-launch rocket systems, tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, combat aircraft, long-range weapons, and anti-ship missiles.

But there were signs of disagreements about what kind of weaponry the allies should donate. For instance, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz delayed his decision to provide tanks to Kyiv, Politico reported on April 7. On April 11, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock broke with the chancellor and called for heavy weapons deliveries to Ukraine. “What’s clear: Ukraine needs more military material, especially heavy weapons. The terrible horror that we see every day in Russia’s war against Ukraine made the need for such supplies more than clear,” she said.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom on April 8 approved another security assistance package for Ukraine, totaling more than $130 million and including Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, 800 anti-tank missiles, and precision munitions. In late April, various media reported that Poland sent T-72 tanks to Ukraine after the UK proposed to compensate Poland with a different kind of tank. Soon after, Germany decided to send Ukraine roughly 50 Gepard air-defense tanks.

Despite these remarks, European countries were under increased pressure to do more. On April 20, Bloomberg reported that Germany would provide artillery and ammunition training to Ukraine. Two days later, Euractive reported that Germany agreed to a swap deal with Slovenia, in which it donated Marder tanks and Fox wheel tanks to Slovenia in return for Slovenia delivering 30 to 40 T-42 tanks to Ukraine. Around the same time, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that the Netherlands will send armored vehicles to Ukraine, while the UK was reported to be sending more vehicles, drones, and anti-tank weapons.

On April 10, Lithuania announced that it would host a mission in Kyiv to train Ukrainian soldiers to use new weaponry sent by the allies. Previously, the United States confirmed that it was training a small number of Ukrainians in the United States to use Switchblade drones.

The United States and its allies have shifted from providing small arms and defensive equipment to hastily ratcheting up deliveries of heavy weaponry to Ukraine.

Finland, Sweden in Talks to Join NATO

May 2022
By Gabriela Rosa Hernández

Propelled by the Russian war on Ukraine, Finland and Sweden are in serious discussions about applying for NATO membership and are widely expected to join.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin (L) speaks while Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto listens on April 20 as the Finnish parliament began debating whether to seek NATO membership. The Russian invasion of Ukraine sparked a surge in political support for joining the bloc. (Photo by Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)Even before the war, Russian President Vladimir Putin had threatened “retaliation” if the two countries join the Western alliance. But his brutal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has escalated the security concerns of neighboring states. Finland and Sweden officially are nonaligned, but have been NATO partners since the mid-1990s.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused Finland to review our security strategy. I won’t offer any kind of timetable as to when we will make our decision, but I think it will happen quite fast. Within weeks, not within months. The security landscape has completely changed,” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on April 14, according to Defense News.

The Finnish parliament began debating the possibility of NATO membership on April 21 as its major parliamentary groups expressed support for some form of a military alliance in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Finland is expected to make its decision before NATO’S two-day summit in Madrid beginning on June 29, Defense News reported.

Although Sweden has been more reluctant, momentum is also building there for NATO membership, according to a Financial Times article on April 20. Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on April 21 that the government wants to speed up consideration of the NATO issue and will now make its security policy analysis public on May 13 instead of May 31, Reuters reported.

In early April, the Finnish government released its own new report on changes in the security environment. It included an assessment of the effects of Finland’s possible NATO membership and noted that if Finland were to be part of NATO, that would raise the threshold for the use of military force in the Baltic Sea region. In turn, this would increase regional stability.

The report also noted that Finland would be prepared to support other NATO members in an Article 5 scenario, the bedrock commitment to defend other members if they come under attack. Yet, this does not mean Finland is obliged to accept nuclear weapons, host NATO troops permanently, or accept NATO military bases on its territory, the report noted.

Just two weeks ago, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson was more cautious in her approach to the subject than her Finnish counterpart. “What we need to do is to carefully think through what is in the best long-term interests of Sweden, and what we need to do to guarantee our national security, our sovereignty and secure peace in this new heightened tension and situation,” Andersson said on April 13. She also said, “We always consider Finnish security together with our own,” according to The New York Times.

Prior to the war in Ukraine, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg noted that “Sweden is an enhanced opportunity partner. Sweden and Finland are our most…closest partners. The fact that we work together, that we share information, that we exercise together is something which is important, and the importance is demonstrated in this situation we are faced with now.”

Stoltenberg also has said that all allies would welcome Finland and Sweden into the alliance. “We know that they can easily join this alliance if they decide to apply,” he said, according to ABC News on April 12. He even hinted that NATO members may be prepared to give Sweden and Finland security guarantees during the NATO membership application process.

Finland and Sweden inhabit important geostrategic locations and possess the economic stability to fulfill the NATO commitment that members spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense.

Finland and Sweden joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace program in 1994. Throughout the years, they have consistently participated in NATO’s military exercises, such as the Saber Strike series and the BALTOPS exercises in the Baltic Sea region. Both nations are also part of the enhanced NATO Response Force, a highly competent multinational force made up of land, maritime, air, and special operations components that NATO can deploy quickly when needed, in a supplementary role and subject to national decisions.

In addition, Finland and Sweden have signed a memorandum of understanding on host nation support, which requires them to provide logistical support to NATO forces transiting or located on the territory of Finland or Sweden during an exercise or a crisis. The memorandum is subject to national decision.

The move to seriously consider joining NATO is a strong signal that Finland and Sweden may not be fully reassured by the EU mutual defense clause in the 2007 Lisbon Treaty. According to Defense Post, Andersson told reporters in early March that Finland and Sweden wrote a joint letter to remind the other EU member states how seriously the two states view the defense solidarity clause. The mutual defense clause is similar to NATO’s Article 5 and requires “other EU countries to come to the support and aid, with all possible means, of a member state under armed attack,” Andersson said.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, has warned that Russia would need to take serious measures to guarantee its security if Finland and Sweden became NATO members, RIA Novosti reported on April 14. “If Sweden and Finland join NATO, the length of the alliance’s land borders with the Russian Federation will more than double. Naturally, these borders will have to be strengthened, seriously strengthened, the grouping of land forces and air defense, deploy significant naval forces in the waters of the Gulf of Finland,” he said.

Medvedev added, “In this case, there will be no talk of any nuclear-free status of the Baltic. The balance must be restored. Until today, Russia has not taken such measures and was not going to. If we are forced, well, ‘notice—we didn’t offer it,’ as the hero of the famous old movie said.”

That same day, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov was asked about Medvedev’s remarks and the possibility of stationing nuclear weapons in the Baltic Sea region. “After working out Putin’s instructions on strengthening the borders, everything will be discussed at a separate meeting, [after] Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu provides Putin with ideas on strengthening the western borders. It takes time,” Peskov said.

Hours later, RIA Novosti quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko as saying that Russia supported diplomatic contact with Finland and Sweden. On April 20, Maria Zakharova, Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry press secretary, announced that Russia had warned Finland and Sweden about possible consequences if they became NATO members, TASS reported.

Neither Finnish nor Swedish officials have clarified the timeline as to how long it would take for either country to become NATO members. But the first step is for the aspirant to declare its intentions to accede to the Washington Treaty, according to the recent Finnish government report. After that, NATO could invite the applicants to engage in accession negotiations and eventually extend a membership action plan. At the conclusion of these negotiations, the applicants must confirm their willingness and ability to accede to NATO membership. Then, alliance members must sign and ratify the ascension protocol in accordance with their national procedures.

Once this step is completed, the allies submit their instruments of ratification to the United States, the official depositary. Finally, the NATO secretary-general invites the aspirants to join the Washington Treaty, and the invitees must accept the accession agreement in accordance with their national procedures. With the deposit of the final instrument of accession, the invitee becomes a NATO member.

Propelled by the Russian war on Ukraine, the two Nordic countries are widely expected to formally apply for alliance membership.


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