NATO defense ministers have pledged to significantly accelerate the production of modern weapons and ammunition, both in order to supply the Ukrainian army with resources and to maintain the ability to defend its own territory. The Russian invasion of the Ukraine has highlighted the need for reverse the sustained decline in military capabilities of virtually all allies to deal with the current uncertain situation. Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary General, has openly acknowledged that “the current rate of ammunition consumption in Ukraine is many times higher than production, putting our defense industries under great pressure.”
The allied defense ministers met this Tuesday in Brussels in different formats and with the participation of their Ukrainian colleague Oleksii Reznikov to try to rationalize the situation before the expected Russian offensive takes place, so that the Ukrainians do not run out of ammunition. For now, what the ministers have decided is to take stock of all the means available to the countries and their state of service, to try to optimize the use of all material that may be compatible. Now one can see how important the tendency to make allied military technology compatible with one another has been.
As a result, according to Stoltenberg, “it is still possible to find some capacity that we have not used” to increase supply capacity. “We are in a logistics race to get essential capabilities such as ammunition, fuel and spare parts to Ukraine before Russia takes the lead. In this case, speed will save lives.”
The United States has announced that it is reviewing contracts with military industries to speed up the pace of production; and Germany has also already signed an agreement to resume production of ammunition for the ‘Guepard’ armored anti-aircraft system, which it had withdrawn from service but has transferred to Ukraine. Other countries have pledged to modernize Ukrainian main battle tanks of Russian origin. In addition to Germany, Poland has also started training the Ukrainian military who will use the Leopard main battle tanks.
The possibility of NATO also supplying fighter planes to Ukraine, as President Volodimir Zelensky had requested on his European tour last week, has also entered the debate, although for now it is a subject surrounded by reluctance.
Stoltenberg said that the ministers talked about it formally on Tuesday, but still without making a decision that in his opinion “will take time” and cannot be put before “the main priority, which is the ammunition and weapons promised” to the Ukrainian Army. However, the Ukrainian minister insisted in the meeting on the need for the allies to deliver the long-awaited F-16 fighter-bombers. Upon his arrival at the meeting, the minister, who was wearing a suit and tie and not khaki as usual, showed the journalists a handkerchief with airplane prints to emphasize his intentions. In fact, it is known that at least it has already been requested from the Netherlands, which is one of the many countries that has these planes. In almost all European armies, this device is already on its way out, if it has not been decommissioned as in Italy, but for the majority of operators the delivery of these devices would be conditional on having a replacement beforehand and that in these At times it can only be the North American F-35, which is at the beginning of its production.
In the case of SpainFor now, his main contribution continues to be the Leopards, which he had stored and retired from service, which are being reconditioned. Since it does not have F-16 aircraft, it has not intervened in this specific discussion. But on the other hand, the minister Daisy Robles He has signed an agreement with his Estonian colleague, Hanno Pevkur, to install a Norwegian-made Nasams anti-aircraft battery in that country, to protect that flank of the Alliance. The announcement was made by the Estonian government. Spain maintains there more than six hundred soldiers with endowments of Leopard tanks and Pizarro armored vehicles.
Sweden and Finland
Regarding the problem of the entry of Sweden and Finland, the Secretary General opened the possibility that the two countries would not enter simultaneously, taking into account Turkey’s reluctance in the case of Sweden. “The main question is not whether the ratification of Finnish and Swedish membership will take place at the same time. The important thing is that both are ratified as full members as soon as possible,” Stoltenberg said.
“I am confident that they will both be full members and they are working hard to get both ratified as soon as possible.” However, Stoltenberg stressed that “both Finland and Sweden are already much closer and much more integrated into NATO” since the allies made the “historic” decision to invite them to become members last summer. In fact, they already fully participate in the meetings and have signed bilateral protection agreements with several countries.
The two countries that have not yet ratified the entry protocol of Sweden and Finland are Turkey and Hungary. In the Hungarian case, it is officially a political “delay”, but as far as Sweden is concerned, Turkey has closed the door after the incident with the burning of a copy of the Koran in front of its embassy.