top of page

‘EU’s No.1 economic power has been powerless compared to Brexit Britain’

A CIBUK exposé of how Germany and the EU have failed in Europe’s response to Putin

‘Consistently reluctant, late to the fray, and reliant on power from Putin’s Russia, how can Germany lead the EU on Ukraine?’

Published 16.04.22

CIBUK – the longest-established organisation for independence, freedom and democracy in the UK – looks at the behaviour of Germany and the EU itself towards Ukraine, compared with that of the newly-independent United Kingdom.

This highly topical report concludes that Brexit Britain can hold its head up high, whereas the opposite can be said for the EU and in particular its economic powerhouse: Germany.


1. Highlights on the UK-Ukraine relationship:-

  • Ukraine says UK has led the World

  • ‘The leader in defence, the leader in anti-war coalition, the leader in sanctions’

2. Highlights on trade:-

  • The UK’s trade tariffs and goods quotas with Ukraine: ZERO

  • The EU’s trade tariffs and goods quotas with Ukraine: 925 categories

  • Meanwhile German industry has been making billions from its sales to Putin’s Russia

  • Total German-Russian trade last year (2021): €448bn (approx £373bn GBP)

3. Highlights on defence:-

  • The UK has been supporting Ukraine militarily for years

  • Germany started late and has now ceased arms supplies to Ukraine

CIBUK’s exclusive report provides facts, figures, charts and quotes showing :-

  • How the independent United Kingdom has been in the vanguard in support for Ukraine

  • How Germany – EU’s No.1 economy – has profited handsomely from Putin’s Russia

  • How Germany’s military record has been found wanting, compared to the UK

1. The independent United Kingdom has been in the vanguard in support for Ukraine

Is it any wonder that Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy sees the independent United Kingdom as its No.1 ally and refused to welcome the German President to Kyiv?

Last Saturday the Ukrainian President’s office made it perfectly clear who is leading Europe and the world when it comes to support for Ukraine in its heroic defence against unprovoked Russian aggression.

“The UK is the leader in defence support for Ukraine. The leader in the anti-war coalition. The leader in sanctions against the Russian aggressor.”

– Ukrainian President’s office, Sat 09 Apr 2022


2. TRADE : Germany – EU’s No.1 economy – has profited handsomely from Putin’s Russia

For decades Germany has pursued a policy of ‘Wandel durch Handel’ (‘Change through Trade’) with Russia. This was a policy started many years ago and was enthusiastically followed by former Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Germany’s foreign policy towards Russia since West and East Germany were reunited has been one of friendliness and increasing reliance on Russian oil, gas, coal, and other essential raw materials such as nickel for use in batteries.

This relationship has continued despite evidence of the increasing dictatorship in Putin’s Kremlin and tragic events such as the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in London and the Salisbury poisonings in the United Kingdom.

In particular the former German Chancellor Angela Merkel (a former Communist from East Germany) ignored international opprobrium for years. Until a few weeks ago Germany’s policy was to engage fully in the Russian Nordstream II undersea gas pipeline, which had the effect of bypassing Ukraine and leaving Putin free to do what he has now done.

The turning on of this pipeline has now been put on hold by the German courts, although this is currently a legal technicality.

2.1 Germany propping up Putin’s Russia with trade

Highlights on trade:-

  • Germany’s sales to Putin’s Russia in 2021: €200.3bn (approx £166.9bn GBP)

  • Germany’s purchases from Putin’s Russia in 2021: €248.0bn (approx £206.7bn GBP)

  • Germany continues to impose EU tariffs and quotas on Ukraine

  • In February – the month Putin invaded – Germany bought €3.7bn of goods from Russia

[ Source: Destatis, Germany’s official statistics agency ]

2.2 How Germany has enabled Putin’s despotic regime and sidelined the UK

For decades Germany has been propping up Russia’s regime with large trade volumes. As recently as February this year, the Germans bought €3.7 billion euros worth of goods from Putin’s Russia – in just one month. This is according to the latest trade figures from the German statistical office Destatis released on 04 April 2022.

In contrast, exports from the United Kingdom to Germany in the same month fell by 3.6% to €2.6 billion euros – far less than the amount Germany bought from Russia. This is despite the fact that the UK’s economy is almost twice the size of Russia’s.

2.3 Economic aid to Ukraine from the UK – but a questionnaire from Brussels

CIBUK’s Deputy Chairman, Professor Daniel Hodson commented:

“Freed from the constraints of the EU Single Market and Customs Union, the UK has announced the abolition of all import tariffs on goods from Ukraine by way of timely economic assistance.

“In contrast no such help has yet been forthcoming from the EU. Instead, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented an envelope to the Ukrainian President containing a questionnaire on EU membership for the Ukrainian government to fill out. It is not known whether President Zelenskyy opened the envelope.”

.3. DEFENCE: Germany’s dismal military record compared to the UK

Germany’s military has suffered decades of underfunding, most significantly under Ursula von der Leyen when she was German Defence Secretary for six years, before she was anointed as EU Commission President.

Commenting on this CIBUK report, retired General Jonathon Riley told CIBUK:

“The launching of acts of aggression through illegal war must always be resisted and help given to those who resist. The provision of arms by the British Government is a concrete example of help while others in the EU merely talk.”

In 2008 Germany and France blocked Ukraine’s NATO application

  • In 2014 Germany blocked arms supplies to Ukraine after Russia illegally annexed Crimea

  • Angela Merkel then approved the Nordstream II gas pipeline from Russia, bypassing Ukraine

  • Meanwhile the UK started supporting Ukraine in 2015 with supplies and military training

  • Germany only started sending serious weapons to Ukraine a few weeks ago, now halted

  • For decades Germany has spent far below the NATO minimum on defence

  • From 2014 to 2019 Germany underspent on defence by $146.8 billion

3.1 It now seems the German military doesn’t even have weapons to send to Ukraine

Last weekend the new German Defence Secretary told a German newspaper that Germany no longer has any military supplies it can send to Ukraine.

Decades of underfunding has led to this. Germany’s spending on defence has run at approximately two-thirds of the UK’s level, relative to GDP. This is despite Germany having a massive armaments industry which has been supplying other countries at a formidable rate.

3.2 By contrast, here is the latest additional military equipment supplied by the UK

The UK leads Europe in giving Ukrainians the weapons they need to defend themselves.

  • More than 800 more NLAW anti-tank missiles

  • Additional Javelin anti-tank systems

  • Additional loitering munitions

  • Additional Starstreak air defence systems

  • Additional non-lethal aid including ballistic helmets, body armour and night vision goggles

3.3 The UK has been supporting Ukraine militarily for years

Unlike Germany and most of the EU, the UK has been providing unilateral, on-going, tactical, medical and logistical training to the Ukrainian forces since 2014 when Putin’s Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014 – long before the current crisis broke.

UK military personnel have trained over 22,000 Ukrainian personnel as part of Operation Orbital and the UK-led Maritime Training Initiative. This training has included countering improvised explosive devices (IEDs), leadership, planning, infantry tactics, medical skills, and logistics.

The support was stepped up last year (2021) with the UK and Ukraine signing a bilateral treaty which released £1.7bn of financing in support of the Ukrainian Naval Capabilities Enhancement Programme.

In March this year NATO Defence Ministers met in Brussels for an emergency meeting to discuss the illegal Russian war. In this meeting the UK’s Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, played a key role.

3.4 Cutting-edge weapons manufactured in the UK

Ben Wallace announced that the UK would be providing Starstreak, a high velocity anti-aircraft system, which complements the other military aid provided by the UK Armed Forces, including over 4,000 anti-tank missiles.

Built in Belfast and designed in the UK, Starstreak is at the very cutting edge of anti-aircraft missile systems.

A velocity of three times the speed of sound and with a laser beam which can engage and destroy the smallest of targets, it can also be hand-launched, thereby providing further additional flexibility for troops on the ground.

In addition to the Starstreak system, a further 800 NLAW (Next generation Light Anti-tank Weapon) missiles have been sent, along with additional Javelin anti-tank systems and further supplies of body armour and ballistic helmets.


To conclude, it is CIBUK’s contention that Brexit Britain can hold its head up high in relation to Ukraine, whereas the opposite can be said for the EU and in particular its economic powerhouse: Germany.

EU’s No.1 economic power has been powerless compared to Brexit Britain. Germany and the EU have failed in Europe’s response to Putin’s aggression.

Consistently reluctant, late to the fray, and reliant on power from Putin’s Russia, how can Germany lead the EU on Ukraine?

For President Zelenskyy and his beleaguered people, the United Kingdom’s independence from the European Union did not come a moment too soon.

For the report in pdf with images, please click here:

‘EU’s No.1 economic power has been powerless compared to Brexit Britain’
Download PDF • 390KB

For editors and journalists

We are happy to provide more information, photos, charts, and links to more background information on this important report. To contact one of CIBUK’s Officers the email is

CIBUK media contact: Professor Daniel Hodson, +44 7801 233094,

About CIBUK: The Campaign for an Independent Britain (CIBUK) is a non-party political campaigning organisation of people from all walks of life. It is the UK’s longest-running membership organisation for freedom, democracy and independence.

Founded in 1969, for over 50 years the CIBUK has made a significant contribution in campaigning on issues important to the majority of our population and in securing our exit from the European Union. Now it’s time for the next chapter.

192 views0 comments


bottom of page