NATO PA: stronger defence industry key for Ukraine’s resistance, robust Alliance deterrence

20 May 2023

Lawmakers from across the NATO Alliance issued a resounding call Saturday for governments to step up military support to Ukraine, but they warned urgent action is also needed to overcome defence production weaknesses that could undermine the Allies’ robust defence and deterrence posture.   

“Ukraine’s future is being forged in the crucible of war: we must help the young democracy, not only win the war, but also to secure the peace that will allow it to grow as a strong resilient democracy among its Allies here in NATO,” US Congressman Rick Larsen told members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which is holding its Spring Session in Luxembourg. 

In a hard-hitting draft report, Larsen urged NATO governments to provide more military and political support to Ukraine, including air defence systems, artillery, ammunition and armoured vehicles. Allies should crank up sanctions on Russia and support Ukraine’s goal of Euro-Atlantic integration. Larsen welcomed the decision of US President Joe Biden to allow Ukraine’s pilots to train on F-16 fighter jets. 

He noted, however, that Allies have depleted their own weapons stockpiles through transfers to Ukraine, which revealed “a strategic vulnerability” within the Alliance. 

That danger was taken up in a detailed draft report drafted by Turkish legislator Utku Cakirozer on the importance of ensuring a strong Allied defence industrial base to underpin NATO’s new deterrence and defence posture in the face of Russian threats and the growing range of emerging security challenges. 

“Allies have rushed military support to Ukraine to ensure it has the means to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, understanding the implications of a Russian victory,” Cakirozer wrote. “Such efforts, however, have highlighted the fragility within the defence industrial bases of NATO Allies as shortages of critical systems and their input parts have materialised.” 

To correct those vulnerabilities, Cakirozer recommended increased defence spending with a focus on modernising and expanding production; an increase in the supply of ammunition stockpiles throughout the Alliance, greater use of multi-year contracts to provide security to private industry supplies and more cooperation among Allies on arms production and procurement. 

That point was underscored by Stacy A. Cummings, General Manager of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency. “It is vital that we enhance our military capabilities through modernisation, innovation and coordinated multinational procurement along with collective logistical support,” she told lawmakers. 

Since Russia’s brutal and illegal war on Ukraine began, the importance of protecting maritime infrastructure has become clear, as shown by the sabotage attacks on pipelines under the Baltic Sea. 

“These incidents served as an alarm bell,” noted Njall Trausti Fridbertsson, a Member of Parliament from Iceland. “It is now crucial that new and heightened awareness regarding infrastructure vulnerabilities be followed by concrete steps to protect Allies and the equipment and networks their citizens, militaries and policymakers rely on in the maritime domain.” 

In another debate, lawmakers focused on the importance of Allied commitment to the reconstruction of Ukraine in a coordinated way, providing support for private investors, sharing costs and avoiding worsening Kyiv’s debt burden. 

“Ukraine’s reconstruction is not simply essential for Ukraine’s future. European peace and security cannot be ensured until a democratic Ukraine has reclaimed its territory and is a full member of the Euro-Atlantic security and economic institutions,” said Polish legislator Michal Szczerba. “An economically vital Ukraine will also be an engine of growth for Europe … this is a large and important economy, and its take-off will have all kinds of positive spill over impacts.” 

Szczerba suggested Ukraine should be admitted quickly into the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to reinforce economic reforms and prepare the country for deeper integration into global and European economic systems. 

Guest speaker Carlo Masala, Co-Director, Center for Intelligence and Security Studies – Bundeswehr University Munich, told the Defence and Security Committee, that European security will ultimately require Ukraine to be integrated into NATO. “There is no alternative to that,” he said. “Ukraine has to become a member of NATO.”