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17 Sep, 2023 13:58

NATO admiral warns of ammunition shortage

With Ukraine consuming massive quantities of ammo, Western militaries are struggling to afford what’s on the market
NATO admiral warns of ammunition shortage

Rising ammunition prices mean the West is spending more money on defense but ending up with less in its stockpiles, NATO Military Committee Chair Admiral Rob Bauer warned on Saturday. NATO officials have previously warned that the Ukrainian military is using more ammo than the West can produce.

“Prices for equipment and ammunition are shooting up. Right now, we are paying more and more for exactly the same,” Bauer said after a meeting of NATO defense chiefs in Norway, according to Reuters.

“That means that we cannot make sure that the increased defense spending actually leads to more security,” he added.

The price increase has been primarily driven by the Ukrainian military’s consumption of artillery shells, particularly 155mm rounds for its Western-provided guns. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned in February that Kiev was burning through this ammunition faster than the West could replace it. 

At that time, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that American advisers were instructing Ukrainian commanders to “emphasize additional training on maneuver” in order to preserve their dwindling 155mm stocks.

It is unclear how many of these shells Ukraine has fired per day since its counteroffensive against Russian forces began in June, but Reuters put the figure at 10,000, while other media outlets have suggested anywhere between 3,000 and 8,000.

Bauer said that the ammunition shortage has not been responsible for the glacial pace of the counteroffensive. Instead, he highlighted the density of Russian-laid minefields as the top threat faced by Ukrainian soldiers.

In order to resolve the ammo shortfall, Bauer called on the private sector to step up production. 

"Long term stability needs to prevail over short term profits,” he said. “As we have seen in Ukraine, war is a whole of society event.”

As NATO countries funneled tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons and ammunition into Ukraine since last February, Western leaders imposed draconian sanctions on Russia in a bid to cripple its defense industry. These efforts have not worked as intended, and US officials reportedly concede that Russia is now producing more missiles than it was before the conflict began.

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