Kiev, Ukraine – A recent report by The New York Times paints a distressing picture of Ukraine’s struggle to amass sufficient military hardware amidst missing arms shipments, faulty equipment, and intra-governmental legal disputes.
According to Ukrainian government documents, the country has spent over $800 million on arms contracts since 2022, but many of these contracts have been either partially or fully unfulfilled. Some of the weapons purchased or received as donations from allies have been in such a deplorable state that they could only be cannibalized for spare parts.
NATO members have been a significant source of support for Ukraine, having sent billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and equipment to assist in the conflict with Russia. However, this support is depleting European nations’ stockpiles and raising concerns about their own security. For instance, German media recently cited confidential defense ministry documents, revealing that the German Armed Forces only have around 20,000 high-explosive artillery shells remaining and would need to build up an inventory of approximately 203,000 shells by 2031 to meet NATO’s requirements for a 30-day combat scenario.
European nations are now grappling with a complex dilemma – do they continue sending their stocks of weapons to Ukraine, thus potentially compromising their own defense against possible Russian aggression, or do they preserve what they have, risking a potential Russian victory in Ukraine?
This predicament has roots in post-Cold War policies where military spending was not prioritized by many European countries, weakening their defense industrial bases. Additionally, competition from U.S. defense companies for European contracts played a role in straining the supply chains.
On the other hand, Russia, under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin, is reportedly able to command weapon manufacturers to operate around the clock. Moreover, Moscow is known to revamp its military frequently, as seen in its actions against Georgia in 2008 and the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
John Earth, Senior Policy Director for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington, commented on the situation in Ukraine. “What’s going on is there is a war happening, and by nature, things are chaotic. Nothing goes according to plan,” he said. Earth further elaborated on the propaganda from both sides of the conflict, which makes it challenging to ascertain the true state of affairs.
He also emphasized that the supply problems are a considerable hurdle for Ukraine in its aspirations to reclaim territory. He stated, “They need to have munitions, weaponry, artillery shells in order to conduct an offensive that would regain their territory.”
As the conflict continues, the effectiveness of Ukraine’s counter-offensive remains uncertain, hampered by challenges in securing adequate arms supplies.