US-approved weapons deliveries to Taiwan have been considerably delayed and slowed throughout the course of the nine-month long Ukraine war, despite the US having approved some $20 billion total in arms sales for the self-ruled island since 2017. In October, Defense News cited a $14 billion backlog in sales from the US, but that number has now dramatically increased to a nearly $19 billion backlog, according to a fresh estimate in The Wall Street Journal.
"U.S. government and congressional officials fear the conflict in Ukraine is exacerbating a nearly $19 billion backlog of weapons bound for Taiwan, further delaying efforts to arm the island as tensions with China escalate," the report begins.
The WSJ continues with a somewhat rare mainstream media acknowledgement that was missing-in-action from public discourse, albeit an easily predictable outcome, during the opening months of the war: "The U.S. has pumped billions of dollars of weapons into Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February, taxing the capacity of the government and defense industry to keep up with a sudden demand to arm Kyiv in a conflict that isn’t expected to end soon."
This puts the ability of the Pentagon to respond adequately to any potential major cross-strait crisis in question for the near and long term: "The flow of weapons to Ukraine is now running up against the longer-term demands of a U.S. strategy to arm Taiwan to help it defend itself against a possible invasion by China, according to congressional and government officials familiar with the matter," WSJ observes.
Ironically, American and Taiwanese officials themselves have consistently referenced the Ukraine crisis as demonstrating why the US "must" urgently equip the island with everything it needs. And yet, until now few officials have admitted the reality that US arms manufacturing can't keep up, especially not if an additional conflict beyond Ukraine were to suddenly open up.
Additionally, other NATO allies are facing this same problem and worry, especially 'neutral' Germany which has dramatically shifted its historic stance on not sending weapons into foreign conflict zones. A number of German politicians have warned that Berlin should not be sharing weapons from its own arsenal, given that "Unfortunately, the situation here is such that we have an absolute deficit in our own stocks," according a prior admission of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock - words which came at the end of the summer.
She had told German media agency ZDF at the time: "However, Germany must also think in the medium term. Due to the German arms problem, the armaments industry had to dedicatedly produce material for the Ukraine." By many accounts Ukraine's military has only ramped up its plowing through artillery ammo, which the West has struggled to replace at the rates needed to hold off the superior numbers of Russian forces.