The raging conflict in Ukraine might be half the world away from the Philippines but its military already got involved indirectly in the political and diplomatic complications in Eastern Europe.

The Philippine Army fell victim to an intense diplomatic row between Germany and Brazil over the export of 35mm anti-aircraft ammunition to Ukraine.

Brazil refused to supply Ukraine with the 35mm ammunition for the German-funded Gepard anti-aircraft gun system, a weapons system needed to repel Russian air strikes.

Germany retaliated by vetoing exports of the wheeled amphibious armored vehicles to the Philippines because the equipment had German components.

The situation was similar to an earlier problem the Philippines had with a Turkish aerospace contractor supplying T-129 attack helicopters to the Philippine Air Force.

When Turkey acquired missiles from Russia, the United States slapped trade sanctions on Ankara and one of the victims was the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), which won a contract to supply six T-129 attack helicopters for nearly P14 billion.

Turkey could not deliver the helicopters because the T-129 engines had American components and there was a prohibition on exporting US-made military equipment and components.

Luckily, the issue was resolved. Even if the sanctions stayed, the United States eventually allowed Turkey to export the helicopters to the Philippines, one of Washington’s staunch allies in the Indo-Pacific region.

The amphibious armored vehicle contract with Brazil appeared to be similar to the Turkish attack helicopter deal.

But there was a big difference. The Philippines was not Brazil’s direct client. The Brazilians were negotiating with an Israeli company that won a contract in 2021 to supply amored vehicles to the Philippine Army.

The Haifa-based Elbit Systems bid for a $47 million deal with the Philippine Army to deliver at least 28 arnored vehicles, a new series of amphibious combat vehicles.

But instead of exporting its own Israeli-made combat vehicles, Elbit chose the Brazilian Guarani 6×6-wheeled armored vehicle.

The amphibious armored vehicle was actually a collaboration among Israel, Italy and Brazil. Israel would provide the turret for the armored vehicle which was an Italian design for Brazil’s military.

Italy’s Iveco had partnered with the Brazilian Army to develop the new generation combat vehicle to replace the aging EE11 Urutu, a homegrown amphibious armored personnel carrier.

Since the middle of the 1970s, Brazil’s Army has been operating more than 200 EE11 Urutu vehicles and has exported the amphibious vehicles to more than 30 countries, including Libya and Iraq.

But Brazil planned to retire the Urutu in 2015 and replace them with the Guarani.

The Guarani would be a perfect choice for the Philippine Army’s amphibious armored vehicle acquisition project under its modernization program.

It was expecting the delivery of the first batch of the amphibious armored vehicles this year but the German sanctions could delay the delivery.

Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner, commanding general of the Philippine Army, felt helpless in resolving the problem since the Philippines was dealing with the Israeli contractor. It really has to wait for the big powers to resolve the issue.

Israel’s Elbit Systems was also a victim in the diplomatic row between Germany and Brazil over Ukraine.

Brawner believed it was a problem beyond control that could also be frustrated by the squabble over Ukraine, which the country has nothing to do with.

The crisis in Ukraine has affected a lot of countries in the world, from food and fuel supplies to arms deals.

The United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members are scrambling for arms supplies and sending weapons and ammunition to help Ukraine fight Russia.

They have been forcing other defense industries manufacturers, like South Korea and Japan, to produce explosives, munitions, and other weapon systems for Ukraine.

In a way, they have been disrupting the global arms market, funneling billions of dollars to Ukraine and disregarding smaller states that have paid for the arms.

Meanwhile, some of these weapons systems diverted to Ukraine could be falling into the cracks finding themselves in the black market.

Worse, these weapon systems can fall into the wrong hands, finding their way to Islamist militants and all sorts of rebels and secessionist groups, including in the Philippines.

The Philippines is no exception. Its problem with the Guarani 6×6-wheeled armored vehicle highlights the global disruption in the global arms trade.

How long will the Philippines have to wait until the problem between Brazil and Germany is resolved?

The Philippines has made a down payment for the Guarani. Israel must deliver and it was to move mountains to get Brazil and Germany resolve the diplomatic row.

There are indications Italy’s Iveco and the Brazilian Army are developing a new Guarani version to remove all German components. But it could take time.

The Philippines cannot wait. It has to replace its aging US-made V-150 Cadillac Gage and the British GKN Simba armored vehicles.

The US, NATO members, and other major defense contractors must not let smaller countries, like the Philippines, suffer.

They should not politicize the Ukraine conflict. They should not stop the delivery of weapons with smaller states that are trying to upgrade and develop their own minimum credible defense capabilities, like the Philippines.

Ukraine has been made a convenient excuse for so many things, like trade, energy, and food supplies, as well as arms deals.

It’s about time the big powers, not just the United States, stop dictating smaller states on what to do and pressuring weaker states to do things against their will.

Some states have mastered coercion and deception, but let’s all play by the rules and avoid further conflicts.

In the meantime, the Philippine Army will start playing the waiting game. Let’s hope it is not a long wait. The Guarani will arrive hopefully.