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Client Update - 17th February 2023

As we approach 12 months since Russia invaded the Ukraine, western defence ministers are meeting at NATO headquarters to discuss how they can provide support into the second year of conflict. NATO forces have started to question whether their armouries can continue to support the Ukraine war effort to the scale required. It is safe to say that the European defence sector was ill prepared for a conflict of this magnitude and this week the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told of a defence sector under significant strain. According to the Kiel institute, western Governments have contributed $110bn of support with $38bn in the form of weapons. Apparently, Denmark is now out of Howitzers and Estonia has no 155mm artillery guns left. A further $29bn of arms and support has come from the US.

The much anticipated Russian Spring offensive has started to take shape with as many shells being fired daily as European manufacturers can make in a month. Estonia’s defence minister has put forward a plan for donor countries to sign a 4 billion Euro contract to procure 1 million artillery rounds as a test case for combined purchases that can give defence contractors the confidence to invest in additional capacity. This comes after seven European countries, including the UK, jointly funded a £200 million package of direct contracts between Ukrainian and western defence manufacturers for supplies – including ammunition and spare parts for the freshly arriving fleet of tanks.

Concerns in Europe were yesterday echoed by the Pentagon. General Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that 20th century ground warfare tactics in the Ukraine had led US strategists to reconsider and retool for future conflicts. He pointed to the very high usage of conventional munitions has led them to question their own supplies, let alone any support they might be willing to offer to the current conflict.

As the war in Ukraine reaches its 12 month anniversary, it is sobering indeed to consider the casualties that have fallen to date and how much longer the war may continue for. Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragic conflict.

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