Greece has not committed more aid to Ukraine than France and Italy as of March 2023, contrary to social media posts that spread false figures about the quantities of aid these countries have pledged. In reality, France and Italy have committed far more to the war-hit country. According to the Kiel Institute’s Ukraine Support Tracker, Greece has committed €680 million in aid since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, compared to €5.44 billion from Italy and €7.66 billion from France. However, Greece’s committed aid does account for a slightly higher percentage of its GDP than that of the other two countries, the data shows.
The claim, as seen in this Greek Facebook post shared more than 100 times since it was published on 21 January 2023, alleges that a BBC report detailing the aid committed to Ukraine showed that “Greece (you guessed right) is one of the first in terms of generosity… It committed to give… 260 million euros!! And for a measure of comparison: France committed to give 16 million (sixteen) and Italy 11 million!!!”
Other posts with the same claim employ a critical tone towards the Greek government, suggesting that instead of supporting the Greek people, authorities have offered hundreds of millions to Ukraine. Comments under the posts adopt a similar stance: “There is money for some, but never enough for the people,” reads one.
However, the figures cited in the posts are inaccurate, according to the latest data gathered by Ukraine Support Tracker, a database that quantifies government pledges of military, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine based on official sources and international media reports. The tracker is run by the Kiel Institute, a non-profit research institute based in Germany.
France and Italy have committed significantly more total aid to Ukraine than Greece, according to the database. However, Greece has given a slightly higher percentage of its GDP, the data shows.
Original source of the claim
The social media posts name the BBC as a source for the numbers they give.
Searching for such an article, AFP found a piece published on 23 February 2023 that lists the bilateral (country-to-country) military aid pledged to Ukraine since the beginning of the war in February 2022. This article is based on Ukraine Support Tracker and is updated every time new data is released.
Using the Wayback Machine, a tool that saves earlier versions of web pages, AFP found the first available version of the BBC article, from 1 July 2022. This article summarised the Kiel Institute’s June 2022 report, which accounted for support committed to Ukraine up until 7 June 2022.
The July version of the BBC article includes a graph, shown below, listing the largest donors of bilateral military aid to Ukraine at the time.
The United States is listed first with $25.45 billion in military aid commitments. Greece is in 8th place with $0.26 billion, while France is in 13th with $0.16 billion and Italy is 15th with $0.11 billion. These numbers appear to form the basis of the false claims that appeared in late January 2023.
However, France and Italy’s commitments are miscalculated in the social media posts. Instead of claiming that France had committed $160 million (€150 million) for military aid to Ukraine, this figure is downgraded to €16 million in the posts. The same miscalculation occurred with Italy, with the false posts claiming the country had committed €11 million instead of the $110 million (€100 million) reported in the article.
In addition, these figures don’t reflect the quantity of aid given by January 2023, when the posts were shared.
According to the latest data from Kiel Institute’s Ukraine Support Tracker, which measures the aid given from the start of the war up until January 15 2023, France and Italy have both committed more in bilateral aid than Greece, as can be seen in the chart below taken from the dataset:
The January 2023 data shows that Greece has committed €180 million in bilateral aid compared to €1.02 billion from Italy and €1.67 billion from France.
When it comes to purely military aid, the figure cited in the BBC graph, the other two countries are still in the lead, having both committed €660 million in military aid compared to Greece’s €180 million.
Greece’s €180 million of bilateral military aid, accounting for 0.1% of the country’s GDP, has been committed in three instances: approximately €20 million worth of military equipment in March 2022, approximately €140 million more in May 2022 and around €20 million in September 2022. The value of the weapons donated is estimated by the Kiel Institute’s team.
We asked the Kiel Institute why Greece’s commitments were lower in January 2023 than back in the June 2022 report, which had listed Greece’s committed military aid at the higher figure of €250 million.
Stefan Schramm, a researcher at the Ukraine Support Tracker Team, explained to AFP on 2 March that the difference is due to the fact that the June 2022 data included Greece’s reported commitment to send 122 BMP-1 armoured fighting vehicles to Ukraine in exchange for modern tanks from Germany. This number, however, was not confirmed by any official source.
“We originally included the number of 122 as a Greek commitment, however, this was eventually corrected. In September, we received official confirmation of 40 BMP-1s being committed (replaced by 40 Marder tanks from Germany), which thus lowers the total support of Greece,” said Schramm, referring to the announcement from the Greek Ministry of National Defence on 18 September 2022.
As it has been reported here, Greece has so far sent 20 of the BMP-1s to Ukraine and has received 14 Marder tanks from Germany.
France, Italy lead Greece in total aid pledged
In addition to bilateral aid, all three countries have also given additional aid collectively through the European Union. EU member states collectively provide aid to Ukraine through EU institutions such as the European Peace Facility (EPF) and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Again, France and Italy have given more than Greece. In addition to its €180 million in bilateral aid, Greece has committed €500 million as a member of the EU, compared to the EU commitments of €4.42 billion from Italy and €5.98 billion from France. The breakdown of the countries’ bilateral vs. collective EU aid contributions can be seen below in the latest dataset (which measures aid committed up to 15 January 2023) from the Ukraine Support Tracker:
The following chart from the dataset further breaks down the types of aid pledged:
The metric in which Greece does lead the other two countries is in the percentage of its GDP committed; the total sum of aid that Greece has pledged to Ukraine accounts for 0.38% of the country’s GDP, according to Ukraine Tracker’s January 2023 data set. Italy’s total aid accounts for 0.3% of its GDP, while France’s accounts for 0.31% of its GDP.
Greece has also sent humanitarian support to Ukraine from the war’s early days, while Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has committed to rebuilding the Mariupol maternity hospital which was destroyed during the Russian siege of the city in southern Ukraine. This aid, however, has not been evaluated in financial terms by the Ukraine Support Tracker.
“In the case of humanitarian aid by Greece, we have four positions in the dataset. In two of these cases, we do not have information on actual item quantities or the exact composition of the humanitarian aid. Another one speaks on the commitment by Greece to rebuild a maternity hospital from March 2022 without any official information on costs, making an estimation impossible for us. Lastly, we list humanitarian assistance through the Hellenic Red Cross. Since we only track bilateral government-to-government aid, we do not consider this position as it mostly consists of private donations,” explained Schramm.
As noted, the Ukraine Support Tracker’s latest dataset accounts for aid pledged to Ukraine up until 15 January 2023. As the first posts with the false claim were published later, on 21 January 2023, AFP also looked for reports on new aid for Ukraine in the six-day period between the two dates.
On 19 January, several European countries and the US announced additional military aid to Ukraine. However, Greece was not among them. Italy and France, who are also mentioned in the false claims, were not among these countries either.
AFP contacted the Greek ministries of Foreign Affairs and National Defence to confirm the quantities of aid committed but did not receive an answer at the time of publication.
Baltics punch above their weight
Countries around the world have been ramping up their aid for Ukraine around the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion.
The United States — Ukraine’s top supporter since the start of the war in military, humanitarian and financial aid — had earmarked a total of €73.18 billion over the year to February 2023, according to the Kiel Institute’s tracker.
Germany ranks second with a total of €13.33 billion pledged, including its EU commitments. The United Kingdom is third with €8.31 billion committed for aid to Ukraine, while France (€7.66 billion) and Italy (€5.44 billion) are found in fourth and fifth place, with their EU commitments included.
Yet the most generous countries are not the great Western powers but the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, according to the Kiel report, which shows them topping the table for the proportion of GDP spent on aid to Ukraine.
AFP has previously debunked misinformation regarding the war in Ukraine, with some examples gathered here.