BRUSSELS (AP) – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned Monday that Ukraine is using up ammunition far faster than its allies can provide it and putting pressure on Western defense industries, just as Russia ramps up its military offensive.
“The war in Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of munitions and depleting allied stockpiles,” Stoltenberg said. “The current rate of Ukraine´s ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production. This puts our defense industries under strain.”
According to some estimates, Ukraine is firing up to 6,000-7,000 artillery shells each day, around a third of the daily amount that Russia is using almost one year into the war.
Speaking on the eve of a two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers, Stoltenberg said the waiting time for the supply of “large-caliber ammunition has increased from 12 to 28 months,” and that “orders placed today would only be delivered two-and-a-half years later.”
The former Norwegian prime minister said that President Vladimir Putin has already begun Russia´s long-anticipated spring military offensive in Ukraine, “so we must continue to provide Ukraine with what it needs to win and to achieve a just and sustainable peace.”
“It is clear that we are in a race of logistics. Key capabilities like ammunition, fuel, and spare parts must reach Ukraine before Russia can seize the initiative on the battlefield. Speed will save lives,” he told reporters in Brussels.
NATO members and Ukraine´s other allies are meeting at the alliance´s headquarters on Tuesday under U.S. supervision to drum up more weapons and ammunition for the war-torn country. Many NATO allies are bilaterally supplying weapons to Ukraine, but NATO as an organization only provides non-lethal aid.
On Tuesday evening, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his counterparts will separately hold talks with Ukraine´s defense minister. On Wednesday, they will discuss NATO´s defenses on its eastern flank, close to Russia. Moves to beef up military budgets are also on the agenda.
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