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German Defense Minister promises to improve ammo production for Ukraine

Amidst ammunition supply challenges, the German Defense Minister pledges incremental improvements, highlighting industry constraints and the need for sustainable supplies.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov (L) and German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (R). Credit: Rustem Umerov/X
German Defense Minister promises to improve ammo production for Ukraine

In an interview with the ZDF TV channel aired on 5 December, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius reiterated his previous statement that the EU would not be able to transfer one million rounds of ammunition to Ukraine by spring 2024 but promised that the situation would improve.

Germany is doing everything it can to help Ukraine militarily, says Pistorius. Nevertheless, the arms industry will not be able to meet demand so quickly.

Responding to the criticism that Ukraine gets “too little to win, too much to lose”, the German Defense Minister said:

“We deliver what we can. The same applies to almost all other allies and partners.” 

Moreover, it is “not the case that we only supply and nothing new comes from Russia for the Russian armed forces” as Russia continues to produce despite sanctions, “even if not the most modern material,” he said.

The course of the war is also difficult to predict, “that is why it is important and necessary to focus above all on the sustainability of supplies, despite any bottlenecks that may occur,” Boris Pistorius believes.

Regarding the sluggish production of the Western arms industry, Pistorius admitted:

“We currently have the problem that the arms industry cannot deliver as quickly as required in certain areas,” he said, adding that this applies to ammunition, for example, but also to air defense systems. But the arms industry is ramping up capacities “wherever it can.”

According to the Minister, it takes time to set up a factory and build up the necessary stocks of ammunition and explosives in order to be able to produce quickly and rapidly.

He mentioned the production of Gepard anti-air tank ammunition as an example, which Germany had to restart: although this happened quickly, it also took six months.

“That means we’re talking about timelines that can be accelerated, but not completely overridden,” Pistorius said.

EU (predictably) admits it will fail artillery shell pledge for Ukraine

Commenting on the EU target of supplying one million rounds of artillery ammunition to Ukraine by the next spring, Boris Pistorius said:

I warned against this figure very early on because I saw that it was unlikely to be achieved,” said Pistorius.

According to him, this figure had raised expectations that could not be met in the end. However, the German Minister of Defense promises improvement:

“You can be sure that this will improve in the coming months,” he said, promising that Germany alone will supply almost 200,000 rounds of ammunition. “But everything takes time, and that is not a question of political decisions or financial resources.”

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