(Bloomberg) -- NATO allies need to sign more contracts with defense companies to boost production given their ammunition stocks are running dry, the military bloc’s chief said, as he urged countries to spend at least 2% of GDP as soon as possible.
“We need to do more across the whole alliance” to ramp up production, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview in Oslo after a two-day meeting of the alliance’s foreign ministers. The envoys discussed Ukraine’s bid to join the bloc and other ways to ensure long-term support for the country as it fends off Russia’s attack.
“What we need is actually contracts being signed because then industry is ready to invest and ramp up production,” Stoltenberg said. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has invited representatives of the defense industry to join a gathering of defense ministers in Brussels later this month to facilitate contacts, he added.
The NATO chief said he hoped allies would also agree on a defense industry action plan when leaders gather in Vilnius in July, which would outline how to ramp up production and joint procurement, but also how to ensure interoperability and standardization.
The alliance has also agreed to new guidelines for battle-decisive ammunition, including 155mm artillery shells, to ensure countries have bigger stocks, both to continue supporting Ukraine but also for their own defense needs.
“So far allies have depleted stocks to be able to support Ukraine — that’s not a sustainable path so we need to ramp up production to fill these new and more ambitious targets,” Stoltenberg said.
New Spending Pledge
The alliance is set to agree to a new defense spending pledge, which will be the main focus of discussion among defense ministers when they meet. Under the current pledge, signed in 2014, NATO allies agreed to spend 2% of GDP by 2024, but only eight of its 31 members currently meet that goal.
Stoltenberg said discussions were still ongoing but “we expect allies to be at 2% as soon as absolutely possible because the war in Ukraine has demonstrated the urgency of this.”
Referring to the 2014 pledge, Stoltenberg said “in Wales, we had a ten year perspective, but that was ten years ago, we cannot have a new ten year perspective.”
Read more: Europe Is Committed to Rearming. Why It’s Not Simple: QuickTake
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