Shortage of Critical Ammunition Poses Challenges for US and Europe in Supporting Ukraine
Efforts are underway to address the pressing issue of a significant ammunition shortfall for Ukraine, as the US and European nations race against time to bolster production and prevent battlefield shortages that could impede Kyiv’s counteroffensive against Russia.
The dwindling supply of artillery ammunition has caught NATO, US, and Western officials off guard, as they had not adequately anticipated the possibility of a prolonged land war in Europe following an era of relative peace, according to sources speaking to CNN.
UK Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace highlighted the oversight, stating that while NATO had prepared for an immediate offensive, they had not considered the scenario of a protracted conflict extending beyond the initial stages. He emphasized the need to assess the availability of crucial capabilities over an extended duration.
US officials revealed that there are classified levels of munitions stockpiles worldwide, serving as emergency reserves that the military is reluctant to deplete. However, the ongoing supply of 155mm ammunition, the NATO standard for artillery rounds, to Ukraine has brought the US closer to that threshold. Recognizing the extended duration of the conflict, the US began increasing ammunition production last year. However, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan cautioned that it would still take “years” to achieve sufficient mass production levels.
Germany has taken steps to address ammunition shortfalls by bridging gaps in stocks and augmenting reserves. The country has started producing munitions for the Swiss-made Gepard tank, supplied to Ukraine, within its own borders. Delivery of ammunition from this new production line is expected this summer, allowing Germany to contribute its own rounds since Switzerland is unwilling to provide its supply.
In addition, the UK plans to invest an additional 2.5 billion euros in stockpiles and munitions. The country also intends to enhance the resilience and readiness of its munitions infrastructure, including storage facilities, according to the recently released Defence Command Paper Refresh.