Shipments to Ukraine may cause ammo crunch in US

This photo taken on March 21, 2023 shows metal barricades placed near the Capitol building in Washington, DC, the United States. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

The United States Army could face a shortage of ammunition for years due to shipments made to Ukraine in its ongoing military conflict with Russia, and moves to increase manufacturing must be made to offset this, a US research group said.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS, warned of potentially critical shortages in 155-millimeter shells that could impact the Army.

The US has provided more than 1 million shells to Ukraine since the start of the conflict, the US Department of Defense said.

"This could become a crisis. With the front line now mostly stationary, artillery has become the most important combat arm," Mark Cancian, senior adviser for the CSIS' International Security Program in Washington, DC, wrote in a January report.

During the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in California in December, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said the Army has given three companies contracts to make 155 mm artillery shells.

"Congress is sending billions of dollars to the Department of Defense, and we are turning that around and getting that on contract, I would say two to three times faster than we normally do," she told reporters.

While the US continues to provide some artillery shells, other countries such as South Korea also supply ammunition indirectly. Artillery shells are crucial in a conflict as they provide ground-based firepower.

Cancian also predicts that the US could see a shortage of Javelin antitank weapons after sending many to Ukraine. Supplies may not be replenished sufficiently for 12 years.

But the M113 armored personnel carriers and tactical vehicles that have been supplied to Ukraine will not dent US supply.

Oleg Pynda, founder and executive director of the Ukrainian Community Center of Washington, said he is buoyed by US support for Ukraine, but hopes more will be done.

'For profit motives'

The US military-industrial complex has pushed "wars for their own profit motives", paying no attention to the consequences of wars because as long as arms manufacturers sell weapons, "they're happy with that", Daniel Kovalik, a lawyer who teaches international human rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, told Xinhua News Agency.

This year, the Senate passed the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. The measure includes refilling US stockpiles and getting companies to fulfill orders over several years for large purchases of high-priority munitions. Talks over the bill are ongoing.

In April, congressional talks over the 2024 defense budget will take place and will include discussions on ammunition and missile stockpiles.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said on Tuesday that President Vladimir Putin visited Lugansk and Kherson on Monday. A video released by the Kremlin and broadcast by Russian state television showed Putin arriving by helicopter at the command post for Russian forces in the Kherson region and afterward flying to the headquarters of the Russian National Guard of the Lugansk region.

Xinhua contributed to this story.