Ukraine’s demand for shells is tapping out critical Western ammo stockpiles, which officials say are almost empty

Grace Eliza Goodwin – Yahoo News Oct 4, 2023

  • The artillery-intensive war in Ukraine is drying up Western ammunition stockpiles.
  • A senior NATO military official warned that supplies are now at “the bottom of the barrel.”
  • Ukraine has begun negotiating contracts to build out its own weapons production

Ukrainian service personnel unpack US supplied Javelin anti-tank missiles. Click to enlarge

NATO’s most senior military official warned that the West’s ammunition warehouses providing help to Ukraine in its war against Russia are almost empty.

Admiral Rob Bauer of the Netherlands, who chairs NATO’s Military Committee, said at a Warsaw Security Forum meeting on Tuesday that stockpiles of ammunition in Europe and the US — which are critical to the artillery-intensive war in Ukraine — are running low, The Guardian reported.

“We give away weapons systems to Ukraine, which is great, and ammunition, but not from full warehouses. We started to give away from half-full or lower warehouses in Europe,” he said, according to CNN. “The bottom of the barrel is now visible.”

“We need large volumes,” Bauer added, according to the BBC. “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.”

James Heappey, the UK’s armed forces minister, echoed Bauer’s concerns at Tuesday’s panel, urging Western countries to ramp up ammunition production.

“We have to keep Ukraine in the fight tonight and tomorrow and the day after and the day after,” Heappey said, according to CNN. He added that that includes “continuing to give, day in, day out, and rebuilding our own stockpiles.”

But the sheer amount of artillery that Ukraine needs is staggering. While it’s unclear exactly how many shells are currently being fired, a Pentagon official estimated last November that Ukraine was firing between 4,000 and 7,000 shells per day, as Insider previously reported.

The US has already given Ukraine at least 2 million 155-mm artillery rounds since Russia invaded 20 months ago, per a Pentagon press release from August.

“Ammunition availability might be the single most important factor that determines the course of the war in 2023, and that will depend on foreign stockpiles and production,” US defense experts Michael Kofman and Rob Lee wrote in December for the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

But with the future of Western assistance uncertain, Ukraine is now trying to solve the problem itself.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at a meeting with allies last week that he has allocated national funding to build out weapons production partnerships with Western defense contractors, which he said are “already being negotiated,” according to Politico.

Read the original article on Business Insider