Stoltenberg: Ukraine draining NATO’s ammunition stockpiles

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Feb 13, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)

BRUSSELS / KIEV – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) needs to "ramp up production" of ammunition as Ukraine's rate of usage is depleting current capacities and draining stockpiles, the alliance's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday.

The conflict in Ukraine "is consuming an enormous amount of ammunition and depleting allied stockpiles," he told journalists ahead of a meeting of the NATO member states' defense ministers.

A total of 105 Ukrainian soldiers undergo training in Poland to learn how to use the Leopard 2 tanks, the Ukrainian government-run Ukrinform news agency reported 

"The current rate of Ukraine's ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production. This puts our defense industries under strain," he said.

Stoltenberg said the current waiting time for large-caliber ammunition has increased from 12 months to 28 months.

"Orders placed today will only be delivered two and a half years later. So, we need to ramp up production and invest in our production capacity," he said.

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Last month, the German government decided to supply its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and green-lighted requests by other countries to do so.

Poland is set to send a batch of 14 tanks to Ukraine. The Ukrainian government-run Ukrinform news agency reported that a total of 105 Ukrainian soldiers undergo training in Poland to learn how to use the Leopard 2 tanks, citing Polish military official.

Twenty-one tank crews together with technical personnel and tank maintenance teams began their training in Poland a week ago, said Krzysztof Sieradzki, head of the 10th Armored Brigade's training group.

The Ukrainian forces train between 10 hours and 12 hours a day using the Polish Leopard 2 tanks and the same model supplied by Canada, Sieradzki said.

Sieradzki did not rule out that a new group of Ukrainian military personnel would later arrive in Poland for training.

On Tuesday, the NATO member states' defense ministers will discuss Ukraine's request for more weapons.

Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov will join them both for the United States-led Contact Group for Ukraine and for the NATO ministerial session.

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Stoltenberg said the alliance has decided to establish a new coordination cell at NATO Headquarters to support its efforts to prevent and counter threats to critical infrastructure, including undersea cables and pipelines.

The US Navy has been accused in press reports of involvement in last September's attacks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Swedish and Danish exclusive economic zones under the Baltic Sea, which were built to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany.

US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh alleged in recent days that US Navy divers detonated explosives under the pipelines during the Baltic Operations 2022 NATO maritime exercise.

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