Smaller Western democracies have been demonstrating once again their capacity, capability and willingness to make substantial contributions to the international community. This time it is in supporting Ukraine following the Russian invasion.
Governments of different countries are opting to make distinctive contributions, in type and scale. Decisions are being taken in accordance with longstanding close alignments or otherwise with major powers or multi-national alliances; the size of domestic economies; the nature of domestic military capability; perceived future threat to national security; and also basic principles and values. No doubt contributions may also have been influenced by immediate, domestic political agendas!
Information on contributions made by smaller countries not unlike Scotland is provided below. There is no reason why an independent Scotland could not, would not be able to contribute similarly in future if its elected government chose to do so.
The Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Germany (https://www.ifw-kiel.de) has established a database on aid to Ukraine. It publishes a ‘Ukraine Support Tracker’ which ‘lists and quantifies military, financial and humanitarian aid promised by governments to Ukraine between January 24, 2022 and currently through July 1, 2022. It covers 40 countries, specifically the EU member states, other members of the G7, as well as Australia, South Korea, Turkey, Norway, New Zealand, Switzerland, China, Taiwan and India. The database is intended to support a facts-based discussion about support to Ukraine.’
Its latest report can be found here: https://www.ifw-kiel.de/fileadmin/Dateiverwaltung/IfW-Publications/-ifw/Kiel_Working_Paper/2022/KWP_2218_Which_countries_help_Ukraine_and_how_/KWP_2218_Version4_V4.pdf
A map-based data presentation can be viewed here: https://app.23degrees.io/embed/x67vE7NsM3NeQu7z-atlas-slideshow_v4-atlantic/fY83zKIZpbLi3ll5-choro-ukraine-aid-tracker-final-data
Kiel Institute’s focus is on bilateral transfers into Ukraine as well as transfers from the EU and its institutions. In total, it traces €85 billion in government-to-government commitments from January 24, 2022, until June 7, 2022. This sum includes commitments by 37 countries, including 31 G7 and EU member countries, plus commitments by European Union institutions (EU Commission, EU Council, European Investment Bank), as well as six other countries. The graphs below are all from the Kiel Institute’s report. The first ranks total government support as a percentage of donor GDP. It allocates a share of the commitments made by EU institutions to individual EU member countries based on the latter’s EU budgetary contributions. On this metric, the relatively ‘generous’ contributions of smaller European states is notable. It places the UK’s much vaunted contribution in perspective!
The table below compares and contrasts the support for Ukraine provided by the UK and the USA with selected smaller European nation-states. It uses data – here on bilateral aid only – supplied by the Kiel Institute’s Ukraine Support Tracker. It again demonstrates the level of contribution relative to countries’ GDP.
|TOTAL COMMITMENTS||6.217bn € (Rank: 2)||0.563bn € (Rank: 8)||0.250bn € (Rank: 14)||0.235bn € (Rank: 16)||42.615bn € (Rank: 1)|
|0.238% of GDP (Rank: 4)||0.164% of GDP (Rank: 9)||0.861% of GDP (Rank: 1)||0.737% of GDP (Rank: 2)||0.214% of GDP (Rank: 5)|
|HUMANITARIAN COMMITMENTS||0.373bn € (Rank: 3)||0.035bn € (Rank: 20)||0.005bn € (Rank: 28)||0.001bn € (Rank: 35)||8.884bn € (Rank: 1)|
|0.014% of GDP (Rank: 12)||0.010% of GDP (Rank: 16)||0.017% of GDP (Rank: 9)||0.004% of GDP (Rank: 23)||0.045% of GDP (Rank: 3)|
|FINANCIAL COMMITMENTS||2.077bn € (Rank: 2)||0.034bn € (Rank: 13)||no aid pledged (Rank: n/a)||0.015bn € (Rank: 15)||9.949bn € (Rank: 1)|
|0.079% of GDP (Rank: 4)||0.010% of GDP (Rank: 13)||no aid pledged (Rank: n/a)||0.047% of GDP (Rank: 7)||0.050% of GDP (Rank: 6)|
|MILITARY COMMITMENTS||3.768bn € (Rank: 2)||0.494bn € (Rank: 6)||0.245bn € (Rank: 10)||0.219bn € (Rank: 11)||23.782bn € (Rank: 1)|
|0.144% of GDP (Rank: 5)||0.144% of GDP (Rank: 6)||0.844% of GDP (Rank: 1)||0.685% of GDP (Rank: 2)||0.119% of GDP (Rank: 8)|
The House of Commons Library (HoCL) has also just published an account of country-by-country contributions to the Ukrainian cause.
Source: HoCL (7 July, 2022) Military assistance to Ukraine since the Russian invasion. (https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-9477/CBP-9477.pdf )
It reports that the UK has committed £2.3 billion in military assistance to Ukraine to date. However, the HoCL reports that: ‘At the time of writing, approximately £750 million of that funding has been spent thus far.’ Combined with economic and humanitarian assistance, the UK has committed £3.8 billion to Ukraine since February 2022.
The HoCL confirms that members of the European Union as well as providing support through bilateral arrangements with Ukraine are also contributing through the EU’s European Peace Facility (EPF) and other European institutional means. This is the first time that the EU has approved the supply of lethal weapons to a third country. To date, the commitment is €2 billion.
The HoCL also profiles individual countries’ military contributions. It notes that Norway, a NATO member, has a longstanding principle of not supplying weapons and ammunition to conflict zones, originating in a parliamentary decision from 1959. On 28 February 2022, however, and in a change of policy, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre announced Norway would send both defensive and offensive weapons to Ukraine. While acknowledging Norway’s “restrictive policy with regard to exporting defence-related products”, he added “but Ukraine is now in a desperate and extraordinary situation”.
In addition to the direct supply of military assistance, Norway is also contributing NOK400 million to a fund for the acquisition of military equipment for Ukraine that is being coordinated by the International Donor Coordination Centre. Norway is also co-operating with the UK in the provision of long-range multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS).
Both Austria and Ireland have opted to maintain their longstanding policy of neutrality and will not provide bilateral support to Ukraine in the form of lethal aid. Both provide non-lethal military and other forms of support. In line with military neutrality, Ireland’s €9 million contribution to the EU’s European Peace Facility (EPF) goes towards providing non-lethal materials.
The HoCL briefing reports this from Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin when asked about whether anti-tank missiles held by Ireland’s Defence Forces could be sent to Ukraine. He said “what we’re doing is sufficient”, and that it wasn’t an issue now the EPF (European Peace Facility) was activated, as that was providing lethal weapons. The HoCL report adds: ‘Irish Foreign and Defence Minister Simon Coveney said that under the EPF mechanism, countries uncomfortable with supplying lethal aid such as Ireland, would have the option of putting their contributions to the EPF towards alternative forms of assistance, such as medical supplies and protective armour.’
Despite its neutral position on the matter of support for Ukraine and on its status of being outside of NATO, Ireland is (of course) NOT a pariah state: it is currently an elected member of the UN Security Council. (For further perspective: Ireland’s Defence Forces have a longstanding and notable tradition of international peacekeeping. Ireland’s role in peacekeeping operations is unbroken since it began in 1958: this represents the longest unbroken record of peacekeeping service of any country in the world. In this time, over 71,000 individual peacekeeping tours of duty have been completed by Defence Forces personnel.) Different democratic nation-states use their agency to make different decisions about how to contribute to the international community in line with the values, the settled views, of their citizens.
Support for refugees
The Kiel Institute’s data on aid for Ukraine also examines support provided to refugees from the conflict. The first figure maps the absolute number of refugees and the numbers relative to the size of the host country’s own population. Note that Ireland has accepted a higher number as a percentage of its population than has the UK.
The Kiel Institute report notes that: ‘In absolute numbers, Poland clearly ranks first among European countries, being the only country hosting over one million Ukrainian refugees. Germany follows in 2nd place with 780,000 refugees, while the Czech Republic (366,632), Italy (125,907) and Spain (118,199) are in 3rd, 4th, and 5th place respectively. When taking into account the population size in each welcoming country, the Czech Republic tops the list (with a share of 3.43%), Moldova comes 2nd (3.29%), followed by Poland (3.04%) and Estonia (2.99%). Taken together, Eastern European countries tend to stand out in terms of incoming refugees.’
The chart below compares bilateral aid as a percentage of donor GDP, breaking out the element involved in supporting refugees. It reveals how relatively little the UK is contributing financially to support refugees relative to other European nation-states.
Different countries, for their own reasons, contribute differently in supporting Ukraine. The UK has made a substantial contribution. The UK is not exceptional in this: smaller Western democratic nation-states have stepped up too, in some cases making much larger contributions – sacrifices – as a proportion of the size of their economies. An independent Scotland – just like these smaller donors – would have the capacity and capability to do likewise.