Morocco seems to have decided which side to take. Not in words, with deeds. It is true that in March he abstained from voting on the UN resolution condemning the Russian war in Ukraine. And it is true that he abstained again in November when there was a vote to ask Moscow to pay compensation for his aggression. But there are at least two substantial things that could place the country in the alliance that helps Ukraine.
The first element concerns the sanctions. Morocco, with its ports, is an increasingly important commercial and logistic hub. For this reason Russia – as reported by the Moscow Times – had tried to convince the Moroccan government to make the Casablanca airport available: the goal was to create an ad hoc terminal for the management of goods destined for Russia and for purchases from third parties. But Morocco said no.
And now we come to the second point. The news was given by the French newspaper Africa Intelligence. According to an article published a few days ago, Morocco – following US diplomatic pressure – will become the first African country to procure military equipment for Ukraine. The agreement, explains Africa Intelligence, would concern the supply of spare parts for the T-72 tanks. “In the utmost secrecy, (Washington) managed to persuade Rabat to deliver spare parts for T-72 armored vehicles to Kiev,” the article reads.
The T-72 tank is indestructible: it is fully hit by the anti-tank missile but resists
Produced in the Soviet era, the T-72 is one of the main fighting vehicles of the Ukrainian Armed Forces; and after the start of the war several Eastern European countries – also in possession of Soviet arsenals – began to ship large numbers of them to the Ukraine. Some examples: Poland gave 240 T-72s, then replacing them with used American Abrams and ordering new vehicles from South Korea; the Czech Republic contributed 40 tanks; while Slovenia – in November – agreed to sell T-72s in exchange for German vehicles.
However, what is underway is not the first military contact between Ukraine and Morocco, as the Africa Intelligence article explains. The Moroccan army has several dozen T-72s purchased from Belarus between 1999 and 2001. And so already in 2015 the Kiev government, through the state-owned company Ukroboronprom, turned to Morocco for spare parts for tanks.
Morocco’s rapprochement is part of the strategy of the United States and its allies who are trying to extend military support to Ukraine in every possible way. This translates into a now frantic search for weapons around the world, which reminds us of an unequivocal fact: with the end of the cold war, Europe has drastically reduced its defense budget, cashing in the so-called “peace dividend”, finding themselves with limited armies and artillery supplies – unable to sustain the pace of a war like the one being fought in Ukraine today in the long run. Here is the verdict of a recent report by the London-based think tank Royal United Services Institute: “At Ukrainian rates of artillery consumption, Britain’s entire stockpile could last a week – and European allies are in no better shape.”
But even the great US military does not have inexhaustible supplies, nor such boundless production capacity. The example of the Donbas is enough to demonstrate this: this summer the Ukrainians fired between 6,000 and 7,000 artillery shells in a day (the Russians up to 50,000), while the United States manages to produce only 15,000 in an entire month. Another example: the US has given Kiev about a third of its reserves of Javelin anti-tank missiles and a third of its stocks of Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
The problem is that stocks can only be affected up to a certain limit. And America must also support other allies – the most strategic front is always that of the Asia-Pacific where the rival is China. NATO members, having drawn on their reserves, discover how difficult it is to increase the production of weapons overnight. After all, it is from stocks that much of the 40 billion dollars of military aid to Ukraine comes. However, the same goes for Russia, whose arsenal is under enormous pressure: it is targeting Iran and North Korea, one indication is that it is using anti-aircraft missiles to strike land targets.
The increase in production capacity, the analysts explain, requires a lot of investment; which, in turn, depend on the guarantee of long-term contracts. Brutal wars like Putin’s should become routine.