The US Is Moving Hundreds Of Thousands Of Ammo Rounds Out Of Israel To Support Ukraine

(Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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The U.S. is moving roughly 300,000 thousand rounds of ammunition stored in Israel to Ukraine as stockpiles within the U.S. have dwindled to a critical rate, The New York Times reported, citing U.S. and Israeli sources familiar with the matter.

The Department of Defense (DOD) operates a ready stockpile of 155 mm rounds in Israel to supply missions in the Middle East and open up to the Israeli military for use in emergencies, the NYT reported. The U.S. and Western nations have stepped in to continue the supply of 155 mm munition, but domestic stocks are nearly depleted, leaving the U.S. to seek alternative sources.

Israel has resisted joining an international coalition of mostly Western nations providing billions’ worth in weapons and equipment to Ukraine over concerns of upsetting a agreement with Russia on strikes in Syria, according to the NYT. Israeli officials agreed in the end because the munitions belonged to the U.S. (RELATED: Hawley Says Biden Admin’s ‘Prioritizing’ Of Weapons Shipments To Ukraine Could Embolden China To Take Taiwan)

Half of the rounds have already arrived in Europe and will be delivered to Ukraine through Poland soon, the officials told the NYT.

DOD “will not discuss the location or units providing the equipment or materiel,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told the NYT Tuesday.

Ukraine is using up artillery at a rate of roughly 90,000 a month, fast enough that it has severely depleted domestic Soviet-era stockpiles without the capacity to build more munitions.

U.S. stockpiles of 155mm combat rounds, fired by the howitzer weapons system, had become “uncomfortably low,” by August, a Pentagon official told the The Wall Street Journal in August. The ammunition deficit has cratered even further as of November, the outlet later reported.

The most recent tranche of aid for Ukraine brought the number of 155 mm rounds for howitzers to more than one million, as well as precision guided rounds, according to a DOD fact sheet dated Jan. 6. Half of those rounds have come from U.S. stockpiles in Israel and South Korea, analysts told the NYT.

The U.S. made plans to purchase nearly 100,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition from South Korea in November, which would transit through the U.S. before arriving in Ukraine. Routing the deal through the U.S. allowed South Korea to maintain the appearance of avoiding complicity in Ukraine’s attacks on Russian forces, officials explained to the WSJ.

Israeli soldiers fire a 155mm self-propelled howitzer towards the Gaza Strip from their position along the border in the southern Israeli city of Sderot on May 20, 2021. Israel is studying whether conditions are right to stop bombing Palestinian militants in Gaza but is preparing for "more days" of strikes if necessary, an Israeli military source said today. - Diplomats stepped up efforts today toward a ceasefire to stem 10 days of deadly violence between Israel and armed Palestinian groups in Gaza as air strikes again hammered targets in the enclave.

Israeli soldiers fire a 155mm self-propelled howitzer towards the Gaza Strip from their position along the border in the southern Israeli city of Sderot on May 20, 2021.  (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

While the U.S. continues escalating weapons and supplies for Ukraine both in terms of quantity and firepower, both sides of the war are running low, analysts say, according to the NYT. Access to consistent supplies of the right kind of ammunition could be one of the most important factors in winning the war, the analysts say.

Congress’ historically expensive defense budget for 2023 included a new provision for multi-year contracting for smaller items like ammunition. The amendment aims to help DOD accelerate acquisition of 155mm munitions, javelin anti-air missiles and other equipment the administration has drained from U.S. stockpiles to support the Ukrainian war effort.

The Pentagon and the IDF did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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