NATO intends to continue funneling military and financial aid to Ukraine to continue fanning the flames of the conflict. Unfortunately, this policy is increasingly devouring the modest military stockpiles of some of the organization's smaller member-states. (Related: US arms sales to Europe have SKYROCKETED since Ukraine invasion.)
Since the beginning of Russia's special military operation in Ukraine in late February 2022, the United States, NATO and their Western allies have already provided Kyiv with nearly $40 billion worth of military aid, comparable to the entire annual defense budget of France.
One NATO official noted that 20 of the military alliance's 30 members are currently "pretty tapped out." The remaining 10 members, including Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, are allegedly still in a position to provide Ukraine with additional military aid shipments.
But even these major NATO members are feeling strained. In early September, German officials noted that the country was "reaching its limit." Meanwhile, Lithuania announced it no longer has anything left to provide Ukraine despite repeatedly urging allies to give Kyiv everything they have.
"Weapons transfers from smaller NATO member armed forces – Canada, Denmark, Norway – cut deeper into their capabilities and readiness," warned William Reno, professor and chair of the political science department at Northwestern University. "They expect the U.S. to back them."
U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro earlier warned that America will find it "challenging" to continue arming both itself and Ukraine unless the country rapidly ramped up weapons and ammunition production.
President Joe Biden has vowed to keep the arms pipeline into Ukraine open for "as long as it takes," but even the U.S.'s military stockpiles have taken a significant beating.
As early as March 2022, less than a month into the conflict, the Department of Defense was already scrambling to replenish thousands of shoulder-fired missiles it sent to Kyiv. By August, stockpiles of certain types of artillery ammunition were reaching "uncomfortably low" levels.
The Pentagon's latest fact sheet regarding aid to Ukraine shows that the U.S. has provided more than $19 billion in direct military aid. This includes nearly 50,000 anti-armor systems, hundreds of artillery pieces, a litany of other heavy weapons and vehicles and millions of rounds of small arms and artillery ammunition.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies, an American think tank, has previously pointed out that the American military is "not structured to fight or support an extended conflict," while the defense industry is "sized for peacetime production rates" and expanding capabilities would take years.
Steven Myers, a former member of the Department of State under former Secretary John Kerry, also noted that the West will inevitably run out of weapons since the White House can't fully guarantee that the defense industry will be compensated for ramping up production.
"The U.S. can't keep sending weapons – for example, artillery shells – without replenishing its stockpile," he said. "The Pentagon has been asking its contractors to ramp up production. But contractors, being sensible, are more than a little reluctant to do so without guarantees by the Pentagon for covering the capital expenses required for increasing production rate."
Learn more about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine at WWIII.news.
Watch this clip from Our Freedom Protests discussing how only major NATO allies like France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have large enough weapons stockpiles to continue supplying Ukraine with arms.