With Israel ravaging the Gaza Strip after being stuck after a surprise attack by Hamas and the Ukraine war refusing to end, there are concerns that the US would be forced to make difficult choices about which ally receives its limited ammunition supplies.
The Ukrainian battle has been dominated by artillery. But almost 19 months later, there is still a substantial discrepancy between the number of shells Ukraine needs and the rate at which US-led NATO allies can produce and deliver them. The supply of artillery shells has been a sticking point for the Western countries grappling to ramp up production.
Ukrainian MP Oleksandra Ustinova previously told CNN that up to 6,000 shells are being fired daily by Ukrainian forces, but the military intends to fire more than 10,000. On its part, the US announced in mid-September that it plans to increase the monthly production of 155-millimeter artillery shells over the coming years to 100,000 in 2025.
United States Is Only Capable Of Producing Just 14000 Units A Month
The Biden administration’s sprint to supply Ukraine withweapons central to its military success against Russia has yielded a promising acceleration of arms production, including the standard NATO artillery round, output of which is expected soon to reach double its prewar U.S. rate of 14,000 a month.
Last month, the Pentagon said it intends to produce 100,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition every 30 days by 2025, up from just 14,000 a month earlier this year. Even so, that alone may not be enough to supply Ukraine’s defense, its military going through up to 6,000 rounds each day.
With a key US ally, there are two concerns that were overwhelmingly expressed on social media by military watchers and netizens alike: One, with Israel declaring war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the ammo supply to Ukraine may be jeopardized, and two, the ammunition that belonged to Israel has been directed to Ukraine and may lead to trouble for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) if a shortage is created.
Aid To Ukraine At Expense Of Israel?
US has moved munitions stored in Israel for use by Ukraine
Some reports floating around on social media said that Hamas allegedly refused a ceasefire proposed to them, citing information that Israel had sent 80 percent of the artillery ammunition to Ukraine, and they have this knowledge that now Israel wants to “buy time.”
These speculations were based on previous reports about Washington diverting ammo supplies to Ukraine. Some unnamed US and Israeli officials told the media in January this year that American ammunition stockpiled in Israel was sent to Ukraine, and more was expected to follow.
At the time, a US official told CNN that “some” of the 300,000 155-millimeter shells the US and Israel agreed to send had already been transferred. When enquired about the transfer of ammunition, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Richard Hecht said that since the US owned the ammo, his country had nothing to do with its movement.
The United States has transferred American munitions stored in Israel for use in Ukraine and plans to send more soon, US and Israeli officials told CNN Wednesday.
A US official told CNN they have moved “some” of the 300,000 155-millimeter shells that the US and Israel agreed would be transferred, and that there are plans to move the remaining amount in the coming weeks.
Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Richard Hecht told CNN that the Americans notified the Israelis a while ago they were transferring munitions. Hecht said the munitions are US-owned, that their movements are “American business” and that they don’t need Israeli permission to move the munitions.
The United States has also redirected a large shipment of Iranian ammunition bound for its proxies in the region to Ukraine. The US military announced last week that it had sent Ukraine more than 1 million rounds of Iranian ammunition that had been seized last year.
However, with Israel now at war, there are speculations that the need for ammunition could grow. Since the US is the biggest ammunition supplier to Israel, all eyes are now on Washington to see how the country will navigate the situation and balance the military supplies to Kyiv and Tel Aviv.