EU Months Late On One Million Ammunition Target For Ukraine


By Alexandra Brzozowski

(EurActiv) — The EU acknowledged on Wednesday (31 January) that the bloc will fall short of the promised one million artillery rounds it had pledged for Ukraine by March, as Brussels urged EU member states to step up weapons deliveries to Kyiv.

The EU vowed early last year to send one million artillery rounds to Ukraine after a push by Estoniato make the pledge.

However, already in late 2023, EU officials were indicating that the bloc would likely fall short of its much-touted ammunition target, despite efforts to ramp up the bloc’s defence industry.

As it stands, around 524,000 shells will be delivered to Ukraine by the original date, which represents roughly 52% of its target, the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell told reporters on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Borrell said the EU would eventually supply more than one million artillery shells to Ukraine by the end of the year as the bloc’s defence industry keeps ramping up production.

“This is a work in progress, the whole machinery of the European defence industry is working,” Borrell said after a meeting of EU defence ministers in Brussels.

“The situation will continue to improve in the coming months,” he added.

According to Borrell, the production capacity for artillery shells in Europe has gone up 40% since the start of the war and is expected to reach 1.4 million rounds a year by the end of 2024.

The European Defence Agency has signed 60 framework contracts for the joint procurement of 155-mm ammunition alone, Borrell told reporters.

“These contracts have the remaining spare capacity for an estimated volume of 1.5 million (shells),” he said, adding he had encouraged EU member states to place more orders.

The EU has launched a major push to bolster its defence industry to make it fit for purpose in the face of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

Brussels insists it has now unleashed the momentum needed to bring industry up to the level needed to meet the continent’s defence needs.

“We certainly have speeded up,” Borrell said. “There was some initial inertia, and that inertia is what stops motion, but then once things get set in motion, they can speed up.”

Arms producers across the bloc have complained of having struggled to ramp up capacity fast enough, suggesting that national governments need to commit to long-term contracts.

“Ukraine needs more support, and that is a message I passed on to member states: You have to do more and quick, because in the frontline, the battle is fierce,” Borrell warned.

€28 billion in aid

The failure to reach the pledged ammunition target comes as Ukraine’s military is being outgunned by Russian forces along the frontline, nearly two years on from Moscow’s invasion.

“Many members have sent their input and I can say that at least it’s going to be €21 billion budgeted for 2024,” Borrell said, confirming EU military aid to Ukraine has so far amounted to €28 billion since the war started.

In January, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose country is the largest European donor to Ukraine, asked for a review of the bloc’s military aid to Ukraine and for others to lay out their current military support.

This came after other larger EU economies like France, Italy, and Spain were criticised for not pulling their weight in arming Ukraine.

“We have to do more and quicker because on the frontline, the battle is fierce and Ukraine needs more support,” Borrell told EU member states.

The discussion over EU military support for Ukraine is expected to spill over into a decisive EU summit on Thursday, as the bloc is currently debating an overhaul to the European Peace Facility (EPF), used to cover the cost of weapons deliveries for Kyiv.

The EU’s diplomatic service has been pushing for an extra €5 billion for the fund but Germany argues contributions should be offset against bilateral aid. Draft summit conclusions, seen by Euractiv, leave open whether EU leaders will commit to the pledge


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