NATO Secretary General Warns Ukraine is Blowing Through More Ammo Than the West can Supply, CC BY 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

While most of the world seems entranced by the recent unprecedented and historic air strikes over North American soil of unidentified flying objects, the war in Ukraine continues to rage on. Plenty wonder if these floating mysteries are a mere distraction orchestrated to take our eyes off the ball – or should I say, keep our eyes on the skies and away from the mounting conflict in eastern Europe.

No doubt these mysterious objects that have followed the Chinese spy balloon into our territory have some thinking about alien invasion and others speculating on whether these UFOs are just evidence that our near-peer adversaries are upping their passive aggression. One thing is for sure, we are most definitely neck deep in a new Cold War, and Ukraine is at the center.

Can the West continue to support Ukraine in its effort to beat back the Russian aggressor, and to what price are we willing to pay? The NATO Secretary General warns that we may reach the bottom of the weaponry barrel as the war continues.

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Supply Chain Woes

While we were all looking to the skies this week, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was busy looking at ammunition supplies.

“The war in Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of munitions and depleting allied-stockpiles,” Secretary Stoltenberg warned this week.

Singing a tune familiar to us in the United States, he continued, “The current rate of Ukraine’s ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production.” Understandably, as it has strained our military-industrial complex, western European countries also feel that strain.

For example, France has sent an additional 12 on top of the original 18 Caesar truck-mounted 155 mm howitzers of its already small inventory of 76. Some smaller western European countries are entirely depleted, such as Estonia, which has sent all of its 24 FH-70 towed 155 mm howitzers. 

Additionally, Britain is postured to send 30 of its 89 AS90 self-propelled 155 mm howitzers. So, just as some have been raising the alarms in our own country, the same is starting to happen in Europe.

“It is practically the entire Danish artillery that Denmark is giving to Ukraine in one blow,” the Danish Broadcasting Corporation pointed out after their transfer of Caesars. 

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An Old Solution

Besides the draining supply of munitions in the West, there is also the added challenge of getting the needed weaponry to the front lines in Ukraine. But there are not-so-quiet whispers that a solution is just around the corner.

British arms executives recently traveled to Ukraine to discuss the possibility of manufacturing British arms and military vehicles in Ukraine itself. With the extended time it takes to get weapons to Ukraine once approved, this could significantly shorten that time gap.

The strategy of cozying up to the UK is calculated as Jeff Hawn, a fellow at New Lines Institute, points out, “The special relationship between the US and the UK will likely have featured in their calculations because getting the UK on board is a way of facilitating the US’s involvement.” The idea here is that if the UK starts the process of manufacturing within Ukraine, the United States will follow.

Mr. Hawn explained that this arrangement would be seen as beneficial for the US, since “It would integrate Ukraine into the western defense sphere and make it more self-sufficient, when arming Ukraine has stretched the US’s own stockpiles far further than it would’ve liked.”

Could this be the answer to what ails the west’s defense machine?

“large-caliber ammunition has increased from 12 to 28 months,” Mr. Stoltenberg continued,”orders placed today would only be delivered two-and-a-half years later.”

That means this war has to extend even further than anticipated, or countries that depleted their supplies will be significantly underprepared to counter aggression on their land.

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Normalizing Cold War

It shouldn’t surprise anyone who is a student of history that this proposal to build weapons in Ukraine might be a quality solution. It wasn’t that long ago that Ukraine was a hub for weapons production.

As Mr. Hawn points out, “Ukraine had an extensive military-industrial complex during the USSR, which suffered highly after the Cold War, as it lost its major customer and was then looted by oligarchs – but it still has very good long-term material for a military-industrial base.”

How very convenient.

But building these ammunition factories will take time and presents a significant risk given the current status of the war. Moreover, while Russia isn’t well known for its projectile accuracy, it still can hit targets within Ukraine, as seen daily.

It would be devastating to lose ammunition and weapons factories bankrolled and built by the west at the hands of the Russians. But what can happen now is the slow creep of this complex on the outskirts of Ukraine in neighboring countries.

Huseyn Aliyev, a specialist in the Russo-Ukrainian war, predicts that we should “expect Ukrainian production to start in Poland near the border and then moved to Ukraine when it becomes safer as the conflict moves closer to completion…” And so the ‘new normal’ is just the ‘old normal’ of the Cold War, albeit with a few small branding changes.

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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