EU defense and foreign ministers backed an initiative to supply Ukraine with one million artillery shells within the next 12 months.
European Union (EU) ministers have agreed on a two billion euro ($2.14 billion) plan to loot their own arsenals and collectively buy munitions for Ukraine.
At a meeting in Brussels on Monday, EU defense and foreign affairs ministers backed an initiative to supply Ukraine with one million artillery shells over the next 12 months and replenish EU stocks.
While presiding over the meeting, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell took to Twitter to hail what he described as “a historic decision” for the 27-nation bloc and Norway.
“We are taking an important step towards fulfilling our promises to supply Ukraine with more artillery ammunition,” he said, noting that 18 countries had joined a European Defense Agency (EDA) project to jointly order ammunition to the defense industry. .
We are taking an important step towards keeping our promises #Ukraine with more artillery ammunition
18 countries joined the @EUDefenseAgency project to collect orders and place them with the industry#EU committed to delivering more and faster to Ukraine#StandWithUkraine pic.twitter.com/tR2F2BHNtB
— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) March 20, 2023
Borrell said he had received approval for his proposal to provide a billion euros ($1.1 billion) to encourage member states to supply artillery shells from their stockpiles and any orders for new rounds they may have with the industry placed.
Another billion euros would also be used to accelerate new orders and encourage countries to collaborate on those purchases through the EDA or in groups of at least three countries. Germany has already called on countries to join its own efforts, which Berlin says will move faster.
The third track of the program concerns support to the European defense industry, so that it can increase production in the longer term. EU officials have said new joint orders could be placed by May if the plan is approved in its entirety.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted his gratitude to Borrell and the bloc “for this landmark decision. Exactly what is needed: urgent delivery + sustainable joint purchasing.”
I am grateful @JosepBorrellF and the EU Member States for this landmark decision. Exactly what is needed: urgent delivery + sustainable joint purchasing. The EU is once again demonstrating determined leadership in the face of the historic challenges of Russian aggression.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) March 20, 2023
Kiev has complained that its troops are having to ration firepower as Russia’s years-long invasion of Ukraine has turned into a drawn-out war of attrition.
Germany’s defense industry says it is ready to ramp up production, including the types of weapons and ammunition Ukraine needs, but it needs clarity on what governments want before investing in further production capacity.
Ukraine had told the EU it wants 350,000 shells a month to help its troops slow down Moscow’s onslaught and enable them to launch new counter-offensives later in the year.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said the “going gun” had been given and promised Ukraine could count on a large amount of ammunition this year.
According to the Swedish think tank SIPRI, Ukraine became the world’s third largest arms importer in 2022 after the Russian invasion triggered a large flow of military aid to Kiev from the United States and Europe.
The US State Department also announced on Monday that the US will send $350 million worth of weapons and equipment to Ukraine, including various types of munitions, such as missiles, and an undisclosed number of fuel tankers and riverboats.