NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said alliance defense ministers gathered in Brussels had agreed on a need to expand industrial capacity for producing munitions.
The gathering included discussions on Finland and Sweden’s membership bids, support for Ukraine and NATO’s attempts to stock up on weapons and ammunition.
Stoltenberg said the ministers had talked about ways to boost production and replenish stockpiles of armaments and munitions.
“NATO allies are providing unprecedented support to help Ukraine push back against Russia’s aggression,” he said.
“At the same time, this is consuming an enormous quantity of allied ammunition and depleting our stockpiles. Allies agree on the need to work hand-in-hand with the defense industry to ramp up our industrial capacity.”
The NATO chief said the alliance had already increased production of 155-millimeter artillery rounds. “So yes, things are happening but we need to continue, we need to step up even more,” Stoltenberg said. “This is now becoming a grinding war of attrition and a war of attrition is a war of logistics.”
“It is almost one year since Russia launched its full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II,” said Stoltenberg. “We see no signs that Russia is preparing for peace, on the contrary, Russia is launching new offensives.” He welcomed new pledges of support from NATO allies, including heavy hardware and training, citing this as critical.
“Ukraine has a window of opportunity to tip the balance and time is of the essence.”
Ahead of the NATO allies’ second day of talks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used similar words to call for quicker arms deliveries. He said Russia was seeking to maximise its gains on the battlefield before Ukraine could be resupplied.
“That is why speed is of the essence,” Zelenskyy said. “Speed in everything — adopting decisions, carrying out decisions, shipping supplies, training. Speed saves people’s lives.”
NATO defense ministers were also debating how to adapt the 2% spending target, and whether it was sufficient given the war raging in Ukraine.
Heads of government were expected to make that decision at a NATO summit in Lithuania in July.
Germany’s Boris Pistorius earlier said NATO countries should consider going above the defense spending threshold of 2% of gross domestic product (GDP).
“Just spending 2% will not be enough. It must be the basis for everything that follows,” Pistorius told reporters.
Pistorius was sharing the assessment of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg — that 2% should be a “lower limit” in the future. However, the defense minister said this had yet to be fully agreed upon as Berlin’s official position.
“The German government is debating that right now and will soon reach an agreement,” Pistorius said.
The ministers also discuss membership bids by Finland and Sweden and the protection of critical underwater infrastructure after the alleged acts of sabotage on the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines.
Germany spends significantly less than 2% on defense, with the figure for 2022 placed at 1.44%. Germany has long resisted pressure from the United States and other allies to raise its defense spending to 2% of GDP per year on defense, a commitment to which all NATO members agreed in 2006 but which Germany has yet to honour.
Source : Reuters