The leader of German weapons manufacturer Rheinmetall, Armin Papperger, warned this Monday that Europe’s warehouses are empty of ammunition and that it will take ten years for them to recover and the continent to be able to defend itself. “We will be fine in three or four years, but to be truly prepared we will need ten years”, defended Papperger, during the inauguration of a new factory in Untelüss, in northern Germany.
For the leader of the main European arms manufacturer, the continent must produce 1.5 million munitions, after sending a large part of the reserves to Ukraine, which is defending itself from the Russian invasion. “As long as we have war, we will help Ukraine, but then we will need at least five years, and ten years, to really fill the reserves” of ammunition, he insisted, in statements to the British BBC, cited by the Europa Press agency.
Rheinmetall aims to produce, across all its facilities in Europe, up to 700,000 artillery shells per year by 2025, compared to 400,000 to 500,000 this year. Before the Russian war in Ukraine, it only produced 70,000.
The largest German arms manufacturer “already has a greater capacity than the United States” in terms of producing 155mm ammunition, Armin Papperger, head of Rheinmetall, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). In the future, “the United States would like to produce one million munitions per year and Europe two to three million, thanks to a union between European partners,” he added.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen were also present at the inauguration. Olaf Scholz today also urged Europeans to turn to the mass production of military equipment, favoring grouped and long-term orders. “As harsh as this reality is, we do not live in times of peace”, stressed the German Chancellor.
Russia’s war in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s “imperial ambitions” pose “a great threat”, he warned. In this situation, “whoever wants peace must be able to dissuade possible aggressors”, defended the head of the Government in Germany.
Despite the billions of euros worth of weapons delivered to Ukraine by European Union (EU) countries since the start of the Russian invasion, they are still far from having reached sufficient capacity to sustainably support the country and replenish their own reserves.
By the end of March, the Europeans will have supplied only half of the million munitions promised to Ukraine last year. According to Olaf Scholz, to resolve these problems “closer” industrial cooperation between the 27 Member States is necessary.
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