Two-thirds of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have depleted their stockpiles by sending weapons to Kiev, according to an alliance official. Even larger NATO states are struggling to meet the demands of Ukraine’s war effort.
The New York Times reported on Sunday the North Atlantic alliance is struggling to meet Kiev’s battlefield needs. According to one NATO official, 20 out of 30 members are “pretty tapped out” regarding their ability to supply Ukraine with additional weapons. While larger states like the US, France, Germany, and Italy have the ability to arm Ukraine, those governments have also resisted sending specific weapons systems requested by Kiev.
Ukraine has sought long-range surface-to-surface missiles known as ATACMS from Washington. However, the White House has rebuffed the request out of concerns the munitions could be used to hit Russian territory.
Part of the cause of the dwindling arms supply is the massive demand for artillery. Currently, Ukrainian forces are firing thousands of rounds daily, but the US can only produce 15,000 rounds per month. Camille Grand, a defense expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told NYT, “[a] day in Ukraine is a month or more in Afghanistan.”
The increased demand for weapons has been a significant boon for the Western arms industry. “Taking into account the realities of the ongoing war in Ukraine and the visible attitude of many countries aimed at increased spending in the field of defense budgets, there is a real chance to enter new markets and increase export revenues in the coming years,” said Sebastian Chwalek, CEO of Poland’s PGZ, an entity that owns multiple arms manufacturers.
US arms makers are also profiting off the war. In May, during a visit to a Lockheed Martin plant, President Joe Biden said Washington would increase the number of weapons the US would produce. The President said his plan to ramp up production would not come cheap.
The American arms profiteering has upset some Europeans. According to POLITICO, one European official said, “the fact is, if you look at it soberly, the country that is most profiting from this war is the US because they are selling more gas and at higher prices, and because they are selling more weapons.”
Mark F. Cancian, a former White House weapons strategist and current senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, agreed it would take a multi-year effort to ramp up the production of key weapons. “If you want to increase the production capability of 155mm shells. It’s going to be probably four to five years before you start seeing them come out the other end,” he said.
Multiple US and NATO officials have said the alliance is committed to Kiev for the long term, as they are preparing to fight a multi-year proxy war against Moscow. In October, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the US and its allies would “boost Ukraine’s defensive capabilities for pressing urgent needs and for the long term.”