How long can the US supply weapons to Ukraine?

Commentary

Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist
Video Library |

Ukraine’s military is dependent on the U.S. for significant weaponry in the fight against the Russians. How long can the U.S. continue supplying the underdog? Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan looks at the stockpile and what it would take to keep it going.

First, we have the Javelins. Now Javelins are something that the Ukrainians absolutely love. They’re man portable. They take out any sort of armored vehicle, tanks included. And the issue is that we have already given the Ukrainians one quarter of our total stockpile, and Lockheed, who is the manufacturer of the Javelin, estimates that at current rates of production, just replacing that stockpile would take two years.

So in order to keep up with the pace that the Ukrainians are using this weapons, we’re talking about needing to build out our manufacturing for the Javelin supply line, by at least a factor of 15. That is unlikely. And we haven’t started on that yet ’cause that would require Congressional approval.

The second system that has proven very popular is the stinger, first popularized by Rambo 3 and of course the Afghan Mujahideen against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. Well, we’ve already given the Ukrainians one third of our total stockpile of stingers, and even worse than the Javelins, Raytheon, the manufacturer, hasn’t received a government order for the stinger in over a decade. In fact, most of the components that go into this stinger aren’t even manufactured anymore. So if we want to keep up with this weapon system, we’re talking about having to build out multiple supply lines from scratch in order to incorporate more advanced semiconductors into the systems that are used. That’s not gonna happen in less than a year.

Now in the short term, this calendar year, the Ukrainians are probably going to cease getting this sort of support from the United States in about five or six months because that’s when the cupboard will literally be dry. At that point, the balance of force in the war changes drastically. So we really have until next winter to come up with a backup plan or, by then, something’s gotta give: Ukraine, Russia supplies, the nature of the war.

Hello, everyone. Peter Zeihan here coming to you from Colorado. Today, I wanted to talk about the status of the war from a supply point of view, specifically, the weapons systems that are being used and how much of this is sustainable for both sides.

Now, the Ukrainians are definitely punching above their weight. They have only lost about 160 tanks compared to Russia’s 660. So, you know, from a video game point of view, that’s spectacular. Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story because the Ukrainians have a limited supply here. If you include all 300 odd tank systems that have been brought in from central European countries in NATO who want to help the Ukrainians, the Ukrainians only have about 2300 tanks, but the Russians, the Russians have 13,000. I mean the balance of forces here is not even close. There’s some legitimate questions to be asked about how usable those Russian tanks are because 10,000 of them are in storage.

But the fact remains that for the Ukrainians, this is an all in effort. Their entire male population has been mobilized. Weapons are coming in from the West. Everything they had in a stockpile is going. The Russians really are not putting their weight into this yet. And when, and if, that changes, we’re in a very different conflict situation.

Now, in order to help the Ukrainians with their numerical inferiority, the United States is providing a number of weapon systems to the Ukrainians. We’ve talked about the howitzers before, but I, today I want to talk about two of the systems that have allowed the Ukrainians to take out so many Russian weapon systems.

First, we have the javelins. Now javelins are something that the Ukrainians absolutely love. They’re man portable. They take out any sort of armored vehicle, tanks included. And the issue is that we have already given the Ukrainians one quarter of our total stockpile, and Lockheed, who is the manufacturer of the javelin, estimates that at current rights of production, just replacing that stockpile would take two years.

So in order to keep up with the pace that the Ukrainians are using this weapons, we’re talking about needing to build out our manufacturing for the javelin supply line, by at least a factor of 15. That is unlikely. And we haven’t started on that yet, cuz that would require congressional approval.

The second system that is proven very popular is the stinger, first popularized by Rambo Three. And of course the Afghan Mujahideen against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. Well we’ve already given the Ukrainians one third of our total stockpile of stingers, and even worse than the javelins, Raytheon, the manufacturer, hasn’t received a government order for the stinger in over a decade. In fact, most of the components that go into this stinger aren’t even manufactured anymore. So if we want to keep up with this weapon system, we’re talking about having to build out multiple supply lines from scratch in order to incorporate more advanced semiconductors into the systems that are used. That’s not gonna happen in less than a year.

Now there’s two problems here. The first, of course, is for the war as it’s being carried out right now where over the midterm, the Russians are going to experience a greater and greater force advantage. Over the longer term, the Ukraine war is the exactly the type of conflict that I predicted in a lot of my work, specifically in The Absent Superpower, where the United States plays favorites in wars and provides equipment and intelligence, but doesn’t really get involved itself. Well, if you’re backing the weaker power, man portable weapons, like the javelin, the stinger are absolutely essential. And at the rate we’re going through our stockpile. We’re gonna run dry this calendar year.

So if we do want to use tools like that in order to mess around in other people’s wars, in order to tilt them to our favor without actually putting boots on the ground, we need a significant build out as soon as possible.

Now in the short term, this calendar year, the Ukrainians are probably going to cease getting this sort of support from the United States in about five or six months because that’s when the cupboard will literally be dry. At that point, the balance of force in the war changes drastically. So we really have until next winter to come up with a backup plan or, by then, something’s gotta give: Ukraine, Russia supplies, the nature of the war. We’ll see, but this phase that we’re in, where there’s incremental gains going one way or the other day on day, this is not sustainable without a robust weapons transfer system to Ukraine.

And that is now unlimited time. All right, that’s it for me.

If you find this video or any of our other work useful, just keep in mind, this is free. It is always free. Feel free to share it with whoever you like. You can subscribe easily at the website and if you do find it useful by all means, please do proceed to give a donation to the Afya Foundation. That’s A F Y A foundation.org. They’re in the process of providing medical assistance to the entire Ukrainian refugee community. That number has actually shrunk a little bit to about 6 million because after the siege of Kyiv was broken, a number of Ukrainians relocated from Europe back home, but there are still very high casualty rates going on in the front and the Ukrainians can use all the help they can get. There are links as to how you can help below this video. Thank you very much. And until next time.

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