Artillery shells

All Elements of National Power

A pivotal issue in Ukraine’s defense is the West’s—and the U.S.’ in particular—ability to provide weapons and ammunition swiftly enough to defeat Russia. As Western arms shipments continue, the Ukrainian military will become more capable. Several thousand Ukrainians are now training in the UK and Eastern European NATO states, learning to employ new Western weapons. A multi-week lag exists between weapons delivery and employment because of this training. As the gap shrinks, Russia will face the unsavory prospect of redeploying its overwhelmingly concentrated units to the south, yet still being outmaneuvered and possibly outnumbered. Over time, then, Ukraine’s advantages will accumulate enough to make a serious Russian strategic reversal probable.

Nevertheless, Ukraine’s Western benefactors face a structural issue. It is not the Kremlin’s “commodity war” strategy per se. Although global food and energy pressures will cause macroeconomic stress, an impending Euro-American recession has already reduced oil prices to pre-February 24th levels. Fertilizer producers are adjusting to Russian-induced supply chain disruptions, and excess capacity has increased enough to make a price drop probable, blunting some food pressures. As central banks tighten, disinflationary effects will manage price growth, albeit too late to avoid pressure on consumers. Absent a brutally frigid winter, additional food supply disruptions, and central bank unwillingness to combat inflation, the Russian commodity weapon will disgruntle Western publics but may not derail Western policy.

Rather, the West faces a “shell crisis” decades in the making. In short, while American and allied military stockpiles and production volumes are sufficient to sustain only Ukraine, the possibility of horizontal escalation in Europe, and the looming threat China poses in the Indo-Pacific, point to a broader material crunch.

Read the full article at RealClear Defense.

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