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13 Feb, 2023 10:19

Toll of Ukraine conflict on NATO assessed – Reuters

Some member states are virtually out of ammunition due to the ongoing hostilities, sources told the news agency
Toll of Ukraine conflict on NATO assessed – Reuters

NATO has surveyed its munitions stockpiles to ascertain how depleted they have become due to the Ukraine conflict, Reuters has reported. What has been revealed, the news agency said, is that a number of European members are not prepared for a possible direct confrontation with Russia.

“If Europe were to fight Russia, some countries would run out of ammunition in days,” a European diplomat told Reuters on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity. The NATO official who described the secret survey of ammunition stocks was not named either.

The leaders of the US-led bloc are set to meet in mid-July in Lithuania. The NATO source cited in the article expects stockpile targets for member states to be increased based on the recent review.

The exact inventory numbers are highly classified, Reuters said, but most of the shortfall is in “battle-decisive munitions” that member states have been sending to Ukraine in large quantities.

Those include 155mm howitzer shells, rocket artillery munitions and ammunition for air defense systems. In the last category, the NATO official mentioned the long-range Patriot systems, which Ukraine is yet to receive from its Western sponsors.

The article also described the challenges of boosting military production that NATO members are facing in their attempt to switch their economies to a war footing.

The NATO official said that in the past decades Western militaries had switched to an “Amazon-esque in some ways, sort of just-in-time” system of producing and supplying munitions and that retrofitting it would be “really expensive.”

Defense producers are reluctant to invest in equipment and the training of skilled labor, both of which are necessary to ramp up production, without a guaranteed stream of government orders for years to come, Reuters explained. There is also the pressure owing to the global semiconductor shortage, which affects supply chains.

According to the NATO official, member states would be unlikely to meet any increased ammo targets for years, since “any additional stockpiles we will have will be heading to Ukraine” anyway.