The US and its European allies have begun depleting their arms stockpiles by transferring myriad weapons systems to Kiev. The civilian head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, said he is working with the arms industry to increase production.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, members of NATO have sent tens of billions in arms to Ukraine. On Wednesday, the White House announced a new $1.1 billion arms transfer to Kiev. Washington has led all donors by a significant margin, giving over $65 billion to Ukraine in just over seven months.
Most weapons President Joe Biden has sent to Ukraine have come under the Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows the president to give away American weapons without Congressional approval. The legislature has approved billions for the PDA in a $40 billion Ukraine aid bill that was passed in May.
Over the past several months, reports have surfaced that Biden’s extensive use of the PDA has depleted American weapons stockpiles. In response, the White House has started working with the weapons industry to increase the production of several weapons systems. A White House official recently told the leaders of the arms trade that the Russian war would produce a windfall of new clients and revenue.
Speaking with the New York Times, Stoltenberg said Brussels is joining Washington in seeking to make more weapons. “We are now working with industry to increase production of weapons and ammunition,” he said.
CNBC reports the US has “essentially run out of 155 mm howitzers to transfer to Ukraine.” The current production capacity for 155 mm ammunition also falls short of what the White House is seeking to provide Kiev. Suppliers currently produce 30,000 rounds per year, an amount the Ukrainian army uses in two weeks.
Ramping up production will take time and money. When visiting a Lockheed Martin plant in May, Biden said, “this fight is not going to be cheap.”