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The Guardian: Half of Ukraine’s £900mn international aid stuck in UK bureaucracy

Critics are accusing the UK of halting crucial weapons amid escalating Russian attacks on frontlines in Ukraine.
Shapps and Zelenskyy shaking hands
Zelenskyy during a meeting with British Secretary of State for Defense, Grant Shapps on 28 September, 2023, in Kyiv. Source: The Presidential Office
The Guardian: Half of Ukraine’s £900mn international aid stuck in UK bureaucracy

Over half of £900 million in military assistance for Ukraine run by the British Defense Ministry has not been used because of bureaucratic delays in handing out contracts. The money has been held on the UK-led International Fund for Ukraine, which counts nine countries among its donors, The Guardian reported.

The fund for Ukraine was established in 2022 to finance military training and equipment for Ukraine after the beginning of Russia’s all-out war.

It was created to serve as “a versatile, low-bureaucracy resource,” led by the British Defense Ministry, acting on behalf of an executive panel representing the UK, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and Lithuania.

Despite receiving £900 million in donations over the past two years, with £500 million contributed by the UK alone, only £404 million has been used so far. The ministers have admitted that some of the equipment listed in the contracts will not reach Ukraine until 2025.

The UK Defense Ministry officials say the delays have been caused by a need to assess each of the vast numbers of defense companies that have tendered for contracts.

John Healey, the shadow defense secretary, has criticized the ministry for what he considers as a sluggish approach.

He claimed that the UK must stay united in support of Ukraine in its struggle against Russian troops. As it has intensified its attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure and civilians, its allies must accelerate military support.

“Instead, the UK government is on a go-slow in getting crucial new kit into the hands of Ukrainians. Speeding it up would have our Labour backing, as on Britain’s military help to Ukraine and on reinforcing NATO allies, the government has had – and will continue to have – our fullest Labour support.

There may be a change in government to Labour this year, but there will be no change in Britain’s resolve to stand with Ukraine, confront Russian aggression, and pursue (Vladimir) Putin for his war crimes,” he added.

Money in the fund has been contributed by Denmark, Iceland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand.

The defense secretary, Grant Shapps, has been actively seeking more partners to engage in the fund, but its record in allocating money deterring would-be donors.

Recently, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on its allies many times to provide more Western weapons on the front lines. Russia is steadily advancing, and a shortage of air defense means has been highlighted as one of the most significant problems for Kyiv.

A call for tender bids for “air defense and maritime capabilities” contracts was made in January 2024. Nearly 100 uncrewed aerial systems and 80 heavy-duty plant vehicles to destroy Russian non-explosive obstacles and help build defensive positions and air defense radars are on the list of equipment in them.

“The UK-led International Fund for Ukraine is the largest fund of its kind and is delivering weapons on a regular basis to meet Ukraine’s most pressing needs – including air defense capabilities, drones, and mine clearance equipment – with more than £900m pledged so far by nine countries,” a UK Defense Ministry spokesperson said.

The International Fund for Ukraine requirements has received thousands of responses from industry, each of which necessitated individual review. The ministry claims it stands firm in its commitment to ensuring thorough and effective evaluation processes without making excuses. It said that its primary goal remains to support Ukraine in the most impactful manner possible. However, concerns over stalling the aid increase each week.

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