The US plan in the Ukrainian conflict is becoming increasingly apparent: to defeat Russia and simultaneously destroy the European defence industry.
The European defence industry, devoid of cheap Russian energy resources, inevitably loses its competitiveness in the arms markets. That applies to the entire manufacturing within European Union.
One can add the undisguised blackmail and lobbying by the United States. It is forcing European countries to buy only American weapons.
For years we could see open pressure on the European members of NATO (all members of the EU excluding Sweden, which is in the waiting room) to increase spending on defence. Backdoor dealings, blackmail and corruption are used to ensure that increased spending will mostly go to the US arms manufacturers.
Is Europe capable and prepared to resist?
“We must create a truly European defence technological and industrial base in all interested countries and deploy fully sovereign equipment at the European level “French President Emmanuel Macron at the GLOBSEC conference in Bratislava in May 2023
France is undoubtedly fully aware of what is going on behind the stage. Australia dumped them as the submarine supplier in a typical Anglo-Saxon deal.
Most EU countries have not yet reached NATO’s goal of spending 2% of GDP on defence. However, NATO has steadily increased spending for eight years. In 2022, European expenditures rose 13% to US $345 billion. It was almost a third more than ten years ago. In many ways, but not exclusively, this was a reaction to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. The US and UK provoked the intervention. The rest of NATO followed, excluding Türkiye.
The United States wants to be sure that European countries, already spending about half of their defence purchases on American weapons, will not radically move to spend most of this money at home.
Some European leaders hope this is exactly what will happen. However, the question remains to be answered whether the defence industry of the continent can achieve this. If we look at trends over half a century, European hopes might lead to their disappointment.
The current tensions in Brussels are related to whether the new pan-European defence policy should be limited to EU companies. It is the position held by Macron and the Commissioner for the Domestic Market, Thierry Breton, French. This confirms the US suspicions of European protectionism when allowing American companies to compete for contracts with the EU. Someone should tell Macron that Washinton influences Brussels more than Paris. Yes, it is an unpleasant truth.
Are Europeans competitive enough?
European companies have deep experience in defence. They create everything from the French Rafale fighter to the German Leopard tank and the Polish portable anti-aircraft missile complex Piorun. However, the scale of the American arms industry and its technological innovations make it attractive to European weapons buyers.
The most common expensive product is the F-35 Joint fighter from Lockheed Martin.
It costs the US $ 80 million apiece. There is also an immediate surge in demand for finished products, such as portable missiles and artillery shells.
The war in Ukraine emphasised the dominance of the US defence industry.
Many European countries buy Javelin anti-tank missiles manufactured by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin; Poland signed a $ 1.4 billion deal this year to buy 116 M1A1 Abrams tanks, as well as another $ 10 billion agreement to purchase Lockheed Martin high-mobile artillery missile systems; Slovakia buys F-16 fighters, while Romania is negotiating the purchase of F-35.
German Leopard tanks are active in Ukraine, and the whole world could observe their destruction by the Russian military. The US promised to send their Abrams tanks, but it will only happen after the end of this year. It might not happen. The UK sent some of their Challenger tanks to Ukraine. However, these are kept in reserve and have yet to be used in battle. Who is prepared to believe that these are just coincidences?