The UK’s stockpile of ammunition has “borne the brunt of defence cuts” over the past 30 years, defence secretary Ben Wallace has said.
It comes after Sky News’ defence and security editor Deborah Haynes revealed the government was reviewing the size of its ammunition supplies.
Whitehall sources said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had exposed how past assumptions on what would be needed to fight a war were far too small.
They voiced fears Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was not “interested” in defence and did not understand the need to rearm with urgency.
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Speaking to Sky News, Mr Wallace said it was “not a new observation that this Ukraine war, and the way Russia was fighting, has shown across the West that our stockpiles over the last three decades have often borne the brunt of defence cuts”.
“We have to restock those now,” he added.
The defence secretary has regularly made appeals in public to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to increase his department’s budget, saying it had been “hollowed out”.
However Mr Wallace said he was “not worried” about the levels of ammunition for two reasons.
“Britain has early on already started restocking,” he said.
“We have now started to place orders to replenish them and where we haven’t placed orders we have started the work to make sure we have the supply chain or find alternative sources.
“And the second reason I’m not as worried is the big thing that Putin respects and is frightened of is the Nato alliance.
“We are part of an alliance of those 30 countries. If anyone attacks a Nato member, we have a mutual self-defence and that and that ultimately gives us our power.
“So we have a coalition to help support us, alongside the fact we are starting to restore.”
Mr Hunt was asked by reporters whether the Ministry of Defence would receive extra funding in the budget, but he said “decisions are still being made”.
However, he added: “I was very clear in the autumn statement that both the prime minister and I believe that over the long term we are going to need to spend more money on defence.
“I think what is happening in Ukraine indicates the risks to global security.”
On Thursday, a government spokesperson pointed to a previous increase in defence spending as evidence of Mr Sunak’s interest in the issue.
“It was the prime minister who, as chancellor, agreed the 2020 spending review that provided the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with the largest increase in defence investment since the Cold War,” the spokesperson said.