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Ukraine’s unending demand for weapons jeopardizes NATO defense capacity: Report

Pallets of ammunition and weapons are loaded and bound for Ukraine on a commercial airline at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, the United States. (Undated file photo)

Ukraine’s unending demands for weapons supply have reportedly jeopardized NATO’s defense capacity and left Europe struggling to produce enough ammunition for the country and for itself as the war continues with no end in sight.

Since Russia launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine in late February, the United States and its European allies have been supplying large consignments of heavy weaponry to Kiev, despite warnings from Moscow that the Western military assistance will prolong the war.

The initial war supply operation, however, wasn’t built for the long haul, according to a report by the Washington Post.

Citing officials and industry leaders, the Post reported on Friday the fighting in Ukraine has exposed flaws in US strategic planning” and “revealed significant gaps” in the US and NATO military industrial base. "Stocks of many key weapons and munitions are near exhaustion, and wait times for new production of missiles stretches for months and, in some cases, years,” said the report.

The US military-industrial complex is “in pretty poor shape right now,” Seth Jones of the Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) told the Post. “We are really low… and we’re not even fighting,” Jones said.

According to the Post, the US military-industrial complex can produce about 14,000 rounds of ammunition for the 155-mm howitzers per-day, while Ukrainian forces go through about 6,000 a day during heavy fighting.

According to another report by the Wall Street Journal, Ukraine chews through 40,000 rounds of ammunition a month, while all of the European NATO members put together can produce 300,000 a year. “European production capacity is grossly inadequate,” said Michal Strnad, owner of a Czech ammunition conglomerate. He said it would take up to 15 years to restock at current production rates if the war in Ukraine were to somehow end tomorrow. 

In order to deal with the issue, the Washington Post said tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops are being brought to Europe over the next several months to learn and put to use new tactics in fighting against Russia. “I think if we can train larger formations — companies, battalions — on how to employ fires, create conditions for maneuver, and then be able to maneuver like you’ve seen [the US military] maneuver on the battlefield, then I think we’re in a different place. Then you don’t need a million rounds” of artillery, said a senior US defense official.

During a news conference with Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky, US President Joe Biden admitted on Wednesday that provision of some of the weapons Kiev wants could shatter unity among alliance partners who were “not looking to go to war with Russia.”

Moscow has repeatedly warned the US and its allies that shipments of increasingly modern and long-range weapons could lead to a direct confrontation with Russia.

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