eli5 How are the dutch able to give away american made weapons?

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Export controls on these ?

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4 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

The Dutch bought them if they want to resell or give them away it is basically up to them so long as the people they are giving them to aren’t on any banned list.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Generally a government can give away things to other countries. Now, for weapons they have imported, the import agreement may require that the country of manufacture approve of any re-export of the weapons. This happened recently with Spain who wanted to send Ukraine some weapons they had imported from Switzerland, but the Swiss blocked this because the terms of their arms agreement is that Spain can’t re-export the weapons without Swiss approval.

So, if the Dutch are re-exporting American weapons, it’s likely because the US doesn’t have a problem with where the weapons are going.

Anonymous 0 Comments

When you break the law in a country that government has a police organization to come get you and subject you to punishment. On the world stage though governments don’t behave that way; there is no world government with world police to come drag countries to a world court. “International law” is more like guidelines for what countries consider appropriate behavior, it isn’t like laws within countries.

So when a country purchases weapons they can do whatever they want with them. Of course they are still subject to the reaction of other countries to what they do, and typically there are agreements on where those weapons will be allowed to go. If the Netherlands wants to buy weapons the US would want to place conditions on where those weapons can be sold, but ultimately it is up to the Netherlands if they follow such an agreement. Of course if they broke it the US would be unlikely to sell them any more weapons, but overall the choices are diplomatic/economic pressures on countries or outright warfare to make them comply.

Now as for the Netherlands giving US-made weapons to Ukraine it is safe to assume it is done with the approval of the US government. In fact it probably isn’t “giving away” exactly anyway. What happens is the US gives Ukraine the ability to borrow vast sums of money from the US provided they spend it on things like US weapons systems (you probably heard something about “Lend-Lease Act”). Money goes from the US government straight into the pockets of the US military industrial complex, with the understanding that eventually Ukraine will pay it back.

In the case of the Netherlands they have older weapons systems which they are probably considering upgrading. They are still good for the Ukraine fight though and they might as well be used instead of thrown away, so a deal like this can be made: The US agrees to allow the money Ukraine can borrow to be spent on buying the old Patriot weapons systems from the Netherlands, provided the Netherlands agrees to purchase their replacements from US weapons manufacturers. After all the Netherlands still will need missiles and were likely to replace them from the US anyway.

Anonymous 0 Comments

You are right that there is usually some export restrictions on weapons. Netherlands can buy weapons from the US but generally not sell or give away these to Ukraine. This is negotiated between the governments while the trade is negotiated between the companies. Either the export restrictions have a time limit, this is not uncommon. So old weapons can be sold to other countries while new ones can not. Or the export restrictions could be waved by the origin country. So the US can give Netherlands the permission to export these weapons to Ukraine.

Violating the export restrictions is also not a simple case. It is generally not accepted among the international community for a nation to physically prevent weapons from being exported or otherwise physically enforce the export restrictions. The acceptable reactions are usually restricted to very stern words and public shaming. Governments do keep a list of suspected foreign spies on diplomatic visas which they can expel in cases like this but even that is often seen as bad mannered. You could stop future exports of weapons to the country but that would hurt your own industry as well and usually does not prevent the country from getting weapons.