Germany is on the brink – munitions production depends on China

BERLIN ($1=0.95 Euros) — Germany is reducing its ammunition inventory. Their delivery to the Ukrainian armed forces, or to replenish German stockpiles, is significantly delayed. The problem is the sharp slowdown in the import of Chinese materials. It is about cotton linters from China – a key component involved in the production of propellants for small guns and artillery.

Germany-seeks-35mm-ammunition,-otherwise-SPAAG-for-Ukraine-is-useless
Photo: Roberto Caiafa

The information was published at the end of last month by the German publication Die Welt. According to the report, the war in Ukraine has tripled import requests, and China is slowing them down. For the first time, this problem was mentioned during a symposium in Munich by representatives of the German defense industry. According to them, all European manufacturers depend on this component, and although it is freely traded, China is the largest producer.

Mr. Wolfgang Helmich, the defense spokesman for the ruling Social Democratic Party [SPD], described this issue as problematic. It turns out that cotton linters are needed both for the production of ammunition and for the production of specific steels, says Helmich.

During the symposium held in Munich, the defense industry considered measures to ease the import of cotton linters. It was also discussed how to import this Chinese component faster than the current practice. There has been criticism of the German government that Berlin cannot cope with import planning and that Germany is much slower to supply cotton linters than other European countries. The criticism came from one of the German ammunition manufacturers – MEN Metallwerk Elisenhuette.

The war in Ukraine has shown that the German army has insufficient ammunition. Berlin cannot handle the scale of this won, experts say. The daily use of ammunition by the Ukrainian army, which overloads its artillery several times, is depleting the ammunition not only of Germany but also of other European countries. Just a few days ago, Mr. Ralf Ketzel, head of Munich-based tank maker Krauss-Maffei Wegmann said the same to the German online portal Merkur.de. “Europe’s landfills are empty,” he said.

German PzH 2000s in Ukraine wear out: error message after heavy fire
Photo credit: YouTube

Mr. Ketzel’s speech is in tune with Germany’s domestic problems. At the start of the war, Berlin pledged $106 billion to modernize the German army. However, the government is put in a deadlock situation – with this money, the German army is currently being modernized and at the same time, ammunition stocks are replenished, which, however, are running out many times faster than planned. And now to make the situation even more dramatic – Berlin is highly dependent on Beijing if it wants to continue producing ammunition.

Each NATO member must have stockpiled weapons systems and ammunition that can last 30 days of combat. This is not a guess, this is a rule written by each North Atlantic member. Today, Germany cannot last that long in the event of a war.

Mrs. Eva Högl, Germany’s parliament’s defense commissioner, earlier said her nation needed an extra 20 billion euros [$19.4 billion] to buy enough munitions to meet NATO’s criteria.

The situation is this: Western European countries have declared that they cannot allow Russia to win the war. However, ammunition stocks are melting. Some countries even provided Ukraine with their entire arsenal of old Soviet weapons in anticipation of their Western equivalents. Many the European countries are highly dependent on the American arms industry. This can lead to the impossibility of replenishing their arsenal quickly.

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