With countries already worried about their own munitions stockpiles and Ukraine in acute need of more shells and weapons from allies, there is a risk that not all NATO allies will live up to their promises to contribute to the alliance’s new plans.
“If there’s not somebody hosting the potluck and telling everybody what to bring, then everyone would bring potato chips because potato chips are cheap, easy to get,” said James J. Townsend Jr., a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy.
“Nations,” he added, “would rather bring potato chips.”
It’s a challenge NATO has faced in the past, and one that experts fear could become a persistent problem for the Western alliance as Russia’s war drags into a second year. While the U.S. and EU are making plans to source more weapons — fast — the restocking process will inevitably take time.
“We have tended to try to stockpile munitions on the cheap … it’s just grossly inadequate,” said Stacie Pettyjohn, director of the defense program at the Center for a New American Security. “I think the problems that our allies have in NATO are even more acute because many of them often rely on the U.S. as sort of the backstop.”
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