Western militaries need to increase production of ammunition to give to Ukraine because of dwindling supplies, NATO‘s most senior official has warned.
Admiral Rob Bauer, who chairs the alliance’s military committee, told a panel at the Warsaw Security Forum that members need to “ramp up production in a much higher tempo.”
While NATO members have increased military budgets as they provide support to Ukraine against Russian aggression, production capacity has not increased, he said. He described how weapons and ammunition were given to Ukraine “but not from full warehouses.”
“We started to give away from half-full or lower warehouses in Europe,” he said. “Therefore the bottom of the barrel is now visible.”
British armed forces minister James Heappey told the same panel that aid for Ukraine should continue and that “we can’t stop just because our stockpiles are looking a bit thin.”
“We have to keep Ukraine in the fight tonight and tomorrow and the day after and the day after,” he said, which meant “continuing to give while rebuilding our own stockpiles.”
Newsweek has reached out to NATO and the Ukrainian Defense Ministry for comment.
The warning comes amid concerns about how Ukraine’s allies will continue to provide Kyiv with the military support it needs to fight in the 19-month war with Russia. The U.K. has already run out of weapons equipment it can donate to Ukraine.
“We’ve given away just about as much as we can afford,” a military source told The Telegraph, insisting that the U.K. would continue to source equipment but what Kyiv needs are “air defense assets and artillery ammunition and we’ve run dry on all that.”
In the U.S, a stopgap spending bill passed by Congress to avoid a federal government shutdown did not include money to buy weapons for Ukraine.
Adding to uncertainty over American pledges of support arose on Tuesday when House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted from his leadership position.
The issue of military support for Kyiv is a U.S. presidential campaign issue, with some MAGA Republicans calling for it to be curbed and questioned the oversight of the spending.
However, a report released last week by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) rejected the charges that the four spending packages passed by Congress totaling $113 billion were not being spent prudently.
“American aid to Ukraine is not only being spent properly but with significantly more oversight than any effort of its kind,” said Scott Cullinane, director of government affairs of Razom for Ukraine, a human rights group.
“Ukraine has proven that they can utilize this support efficiently and effectively as they have depleted Putin’s military capability by 50 percent,” he said in a statement emailed to Newsweek. “That is an exceptional return on investment.”
Update 10/4/23, 10:30 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional information.