Ukraine’s missing EU ammunition

11:16 29.10.2023 •

A Ukrainian serviceman prepares 155mm artillery shells, which are in short supply.
Photo: AFP

The European Union is falling behind on plans to provide Ukraine with a million artillery shells by March, people familiar with the matter said, potentially giving Russian forces an advantage in the supply of ammunition, Bloomberg writes.

Under plans made earlier this year, the EU pledged to provide the artillery ammunition rounds to Ukraine over a 12-month period, first by dipping into existing stocks and then through joint procurement contracts and increasing industrial capacity.

With more than half of that time now gone, the initiative has so far delivered about 30% of the target and, based on the volume of contracts signed to date, risks missing its goal, according to people and documents seen by Bloomberg News. Several member states have privately asked the bloc’s foreign policy arm to extend their deadline, the people added.

The US — which is aiming to increase its own production to about 1 million shells per year in 2024 — has urged the EU to step up its efforts, the people said. White House spokespeople declined to comment.

Allies had been hoping that their combined support would match Russia in volume and that Kyiv would have the upper hand thanks to the superior standards of western shells and weapons, one of the people said. The people asked not to be identified discussing their concerns about military supplies.

Ukraine’s leaders were already uneasy after President Joe Biden scrapped a Ukraine aid package under an Oct. 1 deal with Republicans to avert a government shutdown. Biden is now seeking more than $60 billion in aid for Ukraine as well as more help for Israel, but he could face resistance from Republican lawmakers who have grown even more wary of sending more money to Kyiv.

While there currently isn’t much overlap between Israel and Ukraine’s overall requirements for ammunition, even diverting a small number of 155mm artillery rounds away from Kyiv, should Israel need them, matters when the numbers are so tight, another person said.

EU member states have been reluctant to provide specific details of what they’ve provided or the contracts they’ve signed.


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