Ukraine’s Allies Explore Balancing Support Amid Weapons Shortages

Foreign Affairs

Halifax (Nova Scotia): Top defence officials in Europe say arms shortages among Ukraine’s Western allies are forcing difficult conversations about how to balance support for Ukraine with concerns Russia may target them next.

NATO members that have sent billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and equipment are discussing what stockpile levels they need to meet their obligations under the mutual defence treaty. Decisions facing them now could have consequences for their own security and for Ukraine, in its fight to repel Russia’s nine-month-old invasion.

“When you are continuing to give away ammunition to Ukraine and you have to evaluate and assess the risk you take for your own readiness, you will have to take into account the threat,” the chairman of NATO’s military committee, Adm. Rob Bauer, said at the Halifax International Security Forum this weekend.

The strain on stockpiles is “across the board,” and particularly sharp for ammunition, he said. In the years before some countries donated to Ukraine, they maintained stockpiles at half capacity or less because they saw little risk or couldn’t afford more, and took a “just-in-time, just-enough,” approach to the defence industry.

“So the urgency now is seen and understood, I think in most of the nations,” Bauer said.

While Russia’s battlefield losses of soldiers, tanks and aircraft have made it less of a threat, Ukraine’s allies have to make complicated calculations about the ability and pace at which Russia can reconstitute its forces, Bauer said.

“The Russians have the same problems we have in terms of their stocks,” Bauer said.

Speaking to the forum via videoconference, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned against giving Russia a breather right now. Amid splits among Ukraine’s supporters over whether Ukraine should enter peace talks, Zelenksy rejected the idea of a short truce with Russia.

“The cessation of war as such doesn’t guarantee peace. Russia is now looking for a short truce, a respite to regain strength. Some may call it the end of war, but such a pause will only make things worse,” Zelensky said.