When the Soviet Union fell, many of the former Warsaw Pact nations founded their new militaries on the back of leftover military equipment. And in the thaw of the Cold War, many of those same nations invested in Russian gear, often cheaper than its American equivalents.
But following Russia’s invasion of Ukrainian territory in 2014, those same countries found themselves scrambling to cut the cord with Russian military contractors and turn towards the West. But with limited defense budgets, that has proven easier said than done.
To address the issue, the U.S. State Department has, in the last year, quietly launched a new program known as the European Recapitalization Incentive Program (ERIP), a new tool developed with U.S. European Command to try and speed the process of getting allied nations off Russian gear. As envisioned, it targets Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia and Slovakia.
While still in its early stages, officials at State are feeling confident enough about the potential in ERIP that they expect to make a decision on expanding the program within the next few weeks, potentially opening up a new dollar stream for allied nations — one which could result in those nations buying high-end American defense goods.