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Military briefing: Ukraine war exposes ‘hard reality’ of west’s weapons capacity (, subscription or registration may be required)

Nearly 10 months into Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the allies that have backed Kyiv’s war effort are increasingly concerned by the struggle to increase ammunition production as the conflict chews through their stockpiles.

At stake is not only the west’s ability to continue supplying Ukraine with the weapons it needs but also allies’ capacity to show adversaries such as China that they have an industrial base that can produce sufficient weaponry to mount a credible defence against possible attack.

“Ukraine has focused us . . . on what really matters,” William LaPlante, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, told a recent conference at George Mason University. “What matters is production. Production really matters.”

After sending more than $40bn of military support to Ukraine, mostly from existing stocks, Nato members’ defence ministries are discovering that dormant weapons production lines cannot be switched on overnight. Increasing capacity requires investment which, in turn, depends on securing long-term production contracts.

The US has sent about a third of its stock of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and a third of its stockpile of anti-aircraft Stinger missiles. But it has little prospect of being able to replace these quickly. “There’s no question that . . . [supplying Ukraine] has put pressure on our defence industrial base,” Colin Kahl, US under-secretary of defence for policy, said last month.

The UK has turned to a third party, which it has declined to identify, to restock its depleted stores of NLAW anti-tank missiles. “There are some really hard realities that we have been forced to learn,” James Heappey, armed forces minister, said in October.

Weapons stocks in many European countries are even skimpier. When France sent six Caesar self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine in October, it could only do so by diverting a Danish order for the high-tech artillery.

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Ukraine's request for cluster munitions still under US consideration​

The Biden administration has not rejected outright a request from Ukraine to provide them with cluster munitions, which are banned by more than 100 countries.
The Ukrainian request for munitions is one of the most controversial requests the country has made to President Joe Biden since the invasion in February.
Senior administration officials have been considering the request for months, according to CNN, and have publicly stated they aim to provide Ukraine with as much support as is necessary to give them the upper hand.
The munitions could become a last resort if stockpiles begin to run worryingly low, but the proposal has not yet received significant consideration.
Cluster munitions scatter “bomblets” across large areas and, like landmines, pose a longterm risk to those who come across them.
Both Ukraine and Russia have deployed them so far, but Russia has used them more often against civilian targets, according to Human Rights Watch.
Might be more than a bit difficult to fulfill that request, given how busy the Democrats and their fellow travellers have been in dismantling the United States' capabilities in this area in the last decade or two...

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