Belgium’s Ministry of Defence is set to provide Ukraine with 240 military trucks, De Standaard reports. The first vehicles are scheduled for delivery next week and will be used to ferry troops and equipment to the front in Ukraine’s east.
The Belgian army owns an array of Swedish-made Volvo trucks. In total, the army has a reserve of around 400 Volvo Cargo, Volvo Shelter, Volvo Fassi, and Volvo Manumat vehicles. This includes cargo models, lifting vehicles, and breakdown trucks.
These vehicles will be phased out and replaced with newer vehicles this year. The phasing out of the vehicles has been planned for several years, but their replacement has been “turbocharged” by the war in Ukraine, according to the Defence Material Resources Department. As such, the Belgian army can transfer the majority to the Ukrainian army.
These trucks have been in service since as early as 1992, but remain in good condition. All the vehicles are set to be inspected and refurbished where necessary before they are shipped to eastern Europe. The Belgian army will also send spare parts and instruction manuals for the trucks.
Volvo vehicles are known to be relatively simple to repair and maintain. Ukrainian mechanics and technicians will not need additional training to maintain the vehicles or carry out basic repairs.
Belgium has previously been accused of dumping “junk” on Ukraine. Many countries have used Russia’s war in Ukraine as an excuse to ship outdated equipment or liquidate their strategic reserve of Covid-19 equipment.
In May 2022, Belgium nearly shipped medical equipment to Ukraine which was a few days from expiration. If delivered, at least 20% of the medicines would have been unusable. FPS Public Health admitted that it had knowingly sent almost expired medicines, but later removed them from trucks before they reached the border.
In a comment to De Standaard, an unnamed senior military official denied any allegations that Belgium was offloading “old junk.”
“There is close consultation on this with the Ukraine Defence Contact Group (group of almost 50 nations, led by US Secretary of Defence – ed.). Nothing is being delivered to the Ukrainians that they have not asked for and need themselves,” the official said.
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“Not everything we propose is accepted immediately. That is mostly to do with timing. Because it’s stuff they can’t deploy at that time, or because they don’t have the appropriate personnel for it, for example. But a few weeks later, that situation can look quite different.”
In addition to the vehicles, Belgium will deploy 100 instructors to train Ukrainian troops. Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder reaffirmed at a meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group on Wednesday that Belgium “will continue to provide all the support possible” to arming Ukraine.