Morocco is set break its perceived neutrality over the conflict in Ukraine, becoming the first African country to provide military support to Kyiv.
According to a report by Le Journal de l’Afrique, at the request of the US, the Moroccan government has agreed to transfer spare parts for T-72 tanks to the Ukrainian military. The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces have several dozen T-72B/BK-type tanks purchased from Belarus between 1999 and 2001.
It wouldn’t be the first time that the kingdom has cooperated militarily with Ukraine. In July 2015, the Ukrainian state-owned arms supplier Ukroboronservice asked Morocco for spare parts for its T-72 tanks.
Military Africa also reports that in addition to the provision of spare parts, Moroccan T-72B battle tanks are being modernised by Czech company Excalibur Army, to be diverted to Ukraine as part of a $97 million deal covered by the US and the Netherlands.
Initially Rabat sought to maintain neutrality over the war in Ukraine and absented itself in March from the UN General Assembly vote on condemning Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. At the time the Foreign Ministry stated that the North African county reaffirmed its commitment to the “respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and national unity of all UN member states.”
However, as a major strategic ally of the US, the White House has exerted pressure on Morocco to adopt a clear position on the conflict and to take a side. In April, Morocco participated in a summit on defending Ukraine held in Germany, chaired by US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin. The following month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Morocco’s neighbouring rival, Algeria, to discuss the conflict in Ukraine and strengthen existing relations.