The general: «A clear message comes from Versailles, the common European defense must be strengthened. Today the 27 EU member states spend around 230 billion euros, but they finance too many different systems “
General Claudio Graziano, you are the head of the EU Military Committee. How do you see the war on the ground, do you think that Putin, as many analysts say, has made many underestimations?
“When we sat down for the first time in the crisis room 18 days ago, we all thought that the Ukrainian army would collapse in a short time. But the Russians have prepared an offensive on the basis of certainly incorrect information. The most efficient component of the defense system of the Ukrainians proved to be the air defense forces. Surely Putin miscalculated and that’s why he doesn’t have air supremacy. Then the situation can change from one moment to the next and the bombing in the West does not bode well ».
Could Ukrainians’ staying power be decisive?
“It is a tough battle, the Russians are escalating the levels of violence, risking a great bloodbath in more than one city, starting with Kiev. But the military and moral capabilities of the Ukrainians can certainly make a difference. In addition, Russia does not have the technological capability of the West, it spends most of its military budget on the nuclear weapons system. Putin cannot lose, but he cannot win either ».
Ukraine-Russia: the latest news on the war
Zelensky invokes a no-fly zone.
“It is a decision that the UN can take, as happened in Libya. In this case, without a cover from the United Nations, it would be an act of war against Russia ”.
What consequences will the sanctions have on our country?
«The sanctions were a necessary, extraordinary and unanimous response of Western countries to the invasion of Ukraine. The strength of these measures begins to be felt but their impact will increase over time. There is no doubt, however, that they have a very high cost also for the applicants – such as Italy – which over the years have not diversified their energy supply ».
At the Versailles summit, the EU took the decision to speed up the constitution of a European army.
«I must say that we are certainly facing a historic moment. From the Versailles Summit emerges Europe’s awareness of having to assume the responsibility of protecting its citizens, the democracies of individual nations and of the Union as a whole and, no less important, it is acknowledged that the defense of our values have a cost ».
When will this project be operational?
“By 2025 it will have full operational capability and allow for the rapid deployment of a multinational military capability (Eu rapid deployment capacity) of an inter-force nature, of 5,000 units, equipped with naval and air assets necessary not only for transport, support and support, but also for the conduct of operational activities, even in non-permissive environments. But already this year the member countries will start a common reflection to define in which scenarios this force can be called to operate. This initiative is a first step towards what tomorrow should be a common European defense system equipped with at least 60,000 units, usable up to 6,000 kilometers away from the European borders ”.
Already today the EU countries, all together, have a military budget expenditure higher than that of Russia: will the EU decision need substantial ad hoc funding?
“A clear message comes from Versailles, which is to strengthen the common European defense. It is clear that the European defense spending problem is not simply linked to reaching 2% of GDP alone. Today the Europe of the 27 member countries spends around 230 billion euros which are used to keep around 180 different weapons systems efficient compared to 30 in the United States, 17 terrestrial systems against just one of our allies and so on. This fragmentation, in addition to being no longer sustainable in terms of economy of scale, is estimated to generate an overlap in continental expenditure of up to 100 billion euros per year. Hence the no longer postponable need not only to spend more, but the need to spend better avoiding waste and duplication ».
The EU has taken another historic decision, to send military aid worth 500 million euros to another country for the first time. These funds could be doubled.
«It is a strategic choice, which transforms the features of the EU, which for the first time in its history is now participating as a protagonist in international security. It is a response to the times of history, a reaction to an exceptional event, which is changing and will certainly change the course of history ».
Do Ukrainians actually receive them?
“Some information is classified, but they are certainly receiving what is intended. These weapons are also sending out a message of defense for the whole of Europe ».