DThe supply of Ukraine with crucial Western standard 155 caliber artillery ammunition could fall below a critical minimum more quickly than already feared due to the budget blockade in the American Congress. Experts and politicians in Germany and the European Commission have therefore suggested to the FAS that ammunition from American manufacturers could be paid for with European money if necessary.

Konrad Schuller

Political correspondent for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung in Berlin.

Important voices are also calling for upcoming ammunition deliveries to third countries to be stopped in order to be able to give all available bullets to Ukraine. One of them is the EU Foreign Policy Commissioner, Josep Borrell.

The acute shortage in Ukraine's ammunition supply emerges from new calculations by military expert Gustav Gressel from the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and publicist and data analyst Marcus Welsch, which are available to the FAS. Gressel and Welsch estimate that Ukraine needs at least 5,000 standard bullets per day or 1.8 million per year for a “minimal defense” against Russia. But if you add up the deliveries from America and Europe announced for this year, you are now well below that and only get 3,600 shots per day or 1.3 million per year.

But if America were to be permanently out of action because of the blockade in Washington, Ukraine could potentially be missing another half a million bullets from the West over the course of this year, according to the new study – that corresponds to the expected annual production in the United States, according to the two experts based on official American figures.

As a result of the feared failure, average Western deliveries to Ukraine, which would then only come from Europe, could slip to “less than 3,000 rounds per day”, i.e. to only 60 percent of the estimated need for “minimal defense”. According to this calculation, the problem is likely to become particularly acute in the first few months of the current year because the EU and America are only slowly ramping up their production and are currently still well below the projected annual average.

Europe must fill the gap

In wars, enemy guns can be fought particularly effectively by your own guns. The study therefore states that the increasing shortage of ammunition is making it difficult for Ukraine to defend against enemy artillery. “If the Ukrainian army were to lack ammunition, Russia could put it under pressure with artillery fire without having to accept any significant dangers.” Artillery is not only important in attack, but also in defense because it can destroy an attacker's starting positions . “This means that the supply of sufficient artillery and artillery ammunition currently remains the central problem of the Ukrainian army.” In the last three months, however, Russia has already had a superiority of three to one to seven to one in the supply of artillery shells.

In short supply: At Rheinmetall in Unterlüß, bullets of the western standard caliber of 155 mm roll off the production line.

In short supply: At Rheinmetall in Unterlüß, bullets of the western standard caliber of 155 mm roll off the production line.

Image: Reuters

The authors conclude that the EU must therefore, firstly, limit ammunition deliveries to third parties in order to be able to make “a much higher proportion of the available production” available to Ukraine. Secondly, if the money from America dries up, Europe would have to use its own resources to “buy ammunition in the USA to fill the gap”.