May 23, 2023, 5:21am EDT
securityNorth America

Ukraine is running out of ammo. The West doesn’t have enough.

“We build things to kill people.”


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The Agenda

As trench warfare has taken over the conflict’s front lines, Kyiv’s and Moscow’s forces have come to lean heavily on old-school artillery — launching round after round of unguided explosives at the enemy. But both sides are now running low ahead of impending offensives, global stockpiles are dwindling, and ramping up will take years.

In this part-explainer, part-investigative mini-documentary — the third episode of our new series The Agenda — Semafor takes a hard look at the state of the U.S. defense industry to answer why supplying Ukraine with the ammunition it needs has become such a daunting task.

“In the US, we’ve done everything we can to expand capacity, and still we’re producing around 14,000 shells a month, and the Ukrainians are firing 6-to-7,000 a day,” Rep. Jeff Jackson, D-N.C, told Semafor. The Pentagon is currently on track to increase its artillery production sixfold, but only by 2025.

“We have multiple threats around the globe here for which we need to prepare,” Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., adds, nodding at a potential standoff in the Pacific. “And I am concerned that when you take that in totality, we're not moving quickly enough.”

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