The UK and NATO have warned that ammunition stockpiles amongst allies are running low and that countries need to “ramp up” production in order to prevent this war from spreading across Europe.
“The Bottom of the Barrel”
Admiral Rob Bauer, the most senior military official in NATO, warned of the pressing situation, revealing that “the bottom of the barrel is now visible,” indicating the urgency to rapidly increase ammunition production.
Decades of underinvestment have left NATO countries supplying Ukraine with weapons, but their ammunition depots are already running half-empty, causing Bauer to call all allies to “ramp up production in a much higher tempo.”
Ukraine’s usage of ammunition, firing thousands of shells daily, primarily sourced from NATO, shows the dire necessity for an immediate supply replenishment.
UK Defense Minister James Heappey stressed the urgency of funding defense, urging Nato allies to fulfill their commitment of spending 2% of their national wealth on defense.
Heappey dismissed the “just-in-time” model’s effectiveness in preparing for immediate conflict, “We need large volumes. The just-in-time, just-enough economy we built together in 30 years in our liberal economies is fine for a lot of things – but not the armed forces when there is a war ongoing.”
Heappey declared the importance of not only aiding Ukraine but also rebuilding and maintaining the military stockpiles of Western powers for their collective security, hinting that this war affects all of us.
Heappey acknowledged that not all members meet the 2% GDP spending on defense, “If it’s not the time – when there is a war in Europe – to spend 2% on defense, then when is?”
Heappey argued that if we stop supplying Ukraine, Putin will reap the benefits, “We have to keep Ukraine in the fight tonight and tomorrow and the day after and the day after. And if we stop, that doesn’t mean that Putin automatically stops.”
Swedish Defense Minister Pol Jonson admitted, “we’re digging pretty deep now into our pockets, into our stocks,” before also reiterating Europe’s need to defend Ukraine.
Jonson spoke of not repeating the mistakes made after underestimating the scale of ammunition that Ukraine needs to fight off Russian aggression, “We learned some hard lessons here about scale and volume, not at least when it comes to artillery ammunition.”
The UK defense ministry affirmed its significant support to Ukraine, having provided over 300,000 rounds of artillery ammunition since the invasion’s start, with a commitment to contribute “tens of thousands” more by year-end.
The US State Department outlined its substantial aid, providing Ukraine with over two million NATO standard 155mm artillery rounds since the beginning of the invasion.
Consumption Surpasses Production
Despite efforts to ramp up production, Ukraine’s ammunition consumption surpasses the pace at which Western powers can replenish.
Concerns loom among Nato allies regarding potential implications if Donald Trump were to be re-elected as president, fearing a drop in essential military aid for Ukraine from the superpower.
Russia appears more capable of rapidly replenishing its stockpiles through its wartime economy, with the potential to shift the war in its favor
NATO and EU countries have agreed on various strategies, including joint contracts and subsidies, to ensure a continued and sufficient ammunition supply for Ukraine.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Pavlo Lys