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5 May, 2023 17:40

Italy left with ‘inadequate’ ammunition after arming Ukraine – media

Many of Kiev’s Western backers are facing the same problem, with the US reportedly telling them to “get in line” for resupplies
Italy left with ‘inadequate’ ammunition after arming Ukraine – media

There is “not much left” in Italy’s military stockpiles after six aid shipments to Ukraine, the Corriere Della Sera newspaper reported on Friday. With Italian industry dismantled and resupply from the US uncertain, the country reportedly has enough ammunition left for two days of fighting.

Citing a source in the Defense Ministry, the newspaper stated that the Italian military is currently lacking heavy and light artillery ammunition, leaving it in “serious difficulty.” 

“On the shelves,” the source said, “there is not much left.” According to other military officers cited in the report, if Italy were attacked today, it would have enough ammunition to resist for “between 48 and 72 hours.”

Italy has sent Ukraine just over $727 million in military aid, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German think tank. While this figure pales in comparison to the $47 billion committed by the US, Rome has also paid into the EU’s ‘European Peace Facility’, a joint weapons-buying program worth almost $4 billion.

Italian stockpiles were low to begin with, and with two-thirds of Italian manufacturing plants closing over the last decade, it would take domestic industry three years to fulfil its current orders for artillery ammunition and six to restock on missiles, the newspaper reported. Against this background, the defense source said that Rome approached Washington asking for ammunition, but was told to “get in line,” and that the wait would be long.

Italy is far from the only European country bled dry from supporting Kiev. After handing Ukraine its entire stock of AS-90 howitzers and untold amounts of ammunition, the UK has enough ammo left to sustain anywhere between three hours and a day of modern combat, according to several retired generals

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis stated in October that his country had no more weapons left to give Ukraine, while German officials have warned since mid-2022 that the country’s already threadbare military had been left “exhausted” by Berlin’s efforts to arm Kiev. Despite increases in military spending across the EU, the bloc’s stockpiles were “almost empty” back in December, the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, warned at the time.

Meanwhile in the US, military leaders have scrambled to source artillery shells from their foreign allies, and successive weapons packages have failed to include the number of shells Ukraine says it needs to fire its guns at full capacity.

Recently-leaked Pentagon documents suggest that ammunition shortages may hinder Ukraine’s long-promised spring offensive against Russian forces, while a report by Politico last month claimed that behind closed doors, the Biden administration is worried that the operation may fail.