When the Russia-Ukraine conflict broke out, many Eastern European countries gave Ukraine back the weapons supplied by the Soviet Union in the past.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union provided many weapons to allied countries in Eastern Europe. When the Russian-Ukrainian conflict broke out, many weapons were sent back to Ukraine by European countries.
As a former Soviet state, Ukraine uses Soviet weapons like Russia; but after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine did not have the capacity to produce these weapons and the United States did not have the ability to produce weapons according to Soviet standards.
Therefore, to meet Ukraine’s combat requirements, the United States organized and coordinated its NATO allies to supply Ukraine with old Soviet weapons on request. The most significant of them are S-300 air defense missile systems, T-72 tanks and Su-25 attack aircrafts.
S-300 air defense missile system
According to the Bulgarian Defense Journal, among the US allies, three countries have S-300 missile systems: Slovakia, Bulgaria and Greece. Under pressure from the US and NATO, in the end only Slovakia agreed to transfer their S-300 systems to Ukraine.
The S-300 is a third generation surface-to- air missile system of the Soviet Military, used to counter intensive multi-target air strikes over the entire airspace, from extremely low altitude to high altitude.
S-300 missiles are stored in a closed launch tube/storage tube, with the ability to cold launch vertically, and is maintenance-free upto 10 years.
There are many different S-300 models and the difference between the different models is huge, some of which can only fire at short ranges and some with the range of more than 100 km.
Later upgraded versions of the S-300 has a range of up to 200 km; Soviet-made versions of the S-300, have a missile firing range of about 100 km and a detection range by reconnaissance radar to 200 km.
The S-300 air defense system supplied by Slovakia to Ukraine, being the first version, its performance cannot be compared with the S-300 used by Russia itself; but it can significantly enhance Ukraine’s air defense capabilities, especially in this difficult situation.
T-72 Main Battle Tank
But compared to the limited number of S-300 air defense systems supplied by the Soviet Union to Eastern European countries, a large number of T-72 tanks was widely supplied by the Soviet Union to the countries of Eastern Europe. Even some countries currently in NATO, still use T-72 tanks including Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Poland.
During the Cold War, both Poland and Czechoslovakia received technology transfers from the Soviet Union to produce the T-72M tank. The quality of tanks produced in these countries is not much worse than that produced originally in the USSR.
In 2020, the Polish Army still has at least 400 T-72Ms and these Cold War-era tanks have also been modernized by Poland. There is information that Poland is ready to provide Ukraine with at least 300 T-72 tanks.
Earlier, North Macedonia announced that they were transferring their T-72s to Ukraine; This decision was criticized by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Maria Zakharova, called the transfer of North Macedonia’s T-72 tanks to Ukraine a big mistake.
The T-72 tank entered service in 1976, with more than 25,000 produced; with a weight of 45 to 50 tons and a crew of 3, armed with a 125mm 2A46 cannon, equipped with a self-loading system; and the secondary armament of the tank consists of a 12.7mm heavy machine gun and a medium machine gun.
Compared to current Western main battle tanks such as the US M1 Abrams and the German Leopard 2, both has weight between 60 and 70 tons, and are equipped with stronger armor and more precise fire control systems as compared to the old T-72.
But the T-72 has its own advantages, the weight of the T-72 tank is lighter, which makes it less expensive to manufacture, uses less fuel, and these tanks are good for the Ukrainian Army, as they know how to repair and maintain this tank better.
Sukhoi Su-25 “Frogfoot” Ground-attack aircraft
The Ukrainian Defense Journal recently said that four Su-25 attack aircrafts transferred by the North Macedonian government have arrived in the country; The sad fact is that 21 years ago, these planes were owned by the Ukrainian Army.
In 2001, Ukraine sold four Su-25s to Macedonia, which was going through difficult times, due to increased activity by Albanian separatists. Macedonia then purchased Su-25 aircrafts to support the operations of infantry units.
The North Macedonian Su-25 made a number of sorties, then was decommissioned and stored in a hangar. In 2004, they were officially withdrawn from service with the North Macedonian Air Force.
So far, the authorities of North Macedonia have not provided details on the plane’s delivery. It is only known that North Macedonia’s Defense Ministry said that the delivery of the aircrafts would not undermine the national security of the country.
Earlier, the local newspaper Levitsa reported that the Su-25 aircrafts were being repaired at one of the military airports. Ukrainian aeronautical engineers were involved in the repairment of these warplanes.
The Su-25 is an attack aircraft produced by the Soviet Union. The first time the Su-25 took-off on February 22, 1975. The Su-25 is designed to provide direct air support for mechanized infantry units, tanks and self-propelled artillery.
Currently, the Su-25 is in service in a number of countries around the world, mainly post-Soviet countries, Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. Russia, North Korea, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Turkmenistan have the largest number of Su-25s in their air forces.
The delivery of four Su-25s from North Macedonia to Ukraine, especially considering these planes have not been used for 18 years and need repair, is unlikely to improve the situation on the front.
But for the Ukrainian Army, it is also a symbolic act of support from the Balkan countries, following the support of the US and NATO.