West must 'ramp up' ammunition production for Ukraine, says Stoltenberg

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By Aida Sanchez Alonso
An Ukrainian soldier stands on duty with his machine gun at an undisclosed location in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022.
An Ukrainian soldier stands on duty with his machine gun at an undisclosed location in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022.   -  Copyright  Roman Chop/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved

NATO and its allies must significantly increase the production of ammunition they are providing for Ukraine, according to the alliance's Secretary-General.

Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels on Monday that the country's consumption of ammunition is much greater than the production capacity of the collective West.

He says it represents a challenge to Kyiv, but also to NATO, given that it also means its own stockpiles are being depleted.

Stoltenberg is now urging allies to invest in production, as well as expand it.

"The war in Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of ammunition and depleting allied stockpiles. The current rate of Ukraine's ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production," he said.

"This puts our defence industries under strain. For example, the waiting time for large-caliber ammunition has increased from 12 to 28 months. Orders placed today will only be delivered two and a half years later. So we need to ramp up our production and invest in our production capacity."

NATO defence ministers will discuss the matter on Tuesday and Wednesday in Brussels, but with the Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine already having started according to Stoltenberg, things are getting more urgent.

"I think the reality is that we have seen the start already because we see in what Russia does now, what President Putin is doing now is sending thousands more troops accepting a very high rate of casualty, taking big losses, but putting pressure on the Ukrainians," he said on Monday.

"And what Russia lacks in quality, they try to compensate in quantity, meaning that the leadership, the logistics, the equipment, the training don't have the same level as the Ukrainian forces, but they have more forces."

"And the Russians are willing to send in those forces and take a higher number of casualties. So, for me, this just highlights the importance of timing. It's urgent to provide Ukraine with more weapons."

NATO defense ministers will analyse the need to provide Ukraine with more weapons, with one of the more sensitive topics being if they will send fighter jets, as Kyiv is demanding.

"Almost one year since the invasion, President Putin is not preparing for peace. He is launching new offensives. So we must continue to provide Ukraine with what it needs to win and to achieve a just and sustainable peace," the NATO Secretary-General told reporters.

"It is clear that we are in the race of logistics. Key capabilities like ammunition, fuel and spare parts must reach Ukraine before Russia can seize the initiative on the battlefield."