EU’s Borrell Urges Member States To Find Ways To Send More Ammunition To Ukraine


By Alexandra Brzozowski

(EurActiv) — EU member states should find ways to increase support to Ukraine, particularly the delivery of badly needed ammunition, the bloc’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell urged his counterparts in a letter seen by Euractiv.

“Ukrainian soldiers are determined to fight, but they need ammunition. Urgently and in huge quantities,” Borrell warned in the letter shared with EU counterparts on Wednesday (21 February).

“I feel therefore it is my duty and responsibility to reach out to you once again to see what more we can do in support to Ukraine,” Borrell wrote.

“Doing nothing is not an option.”

Ukraine has stepped up warnings that its troops are increasingly outgunned and outmanned, with a shortage of ammunition hampering its armed forces’ ability to push back at Russian troops.

On Saturday (17 February), Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Munich had urged his Western partners to deliver more weapons and ammunition to Kyiv.

The call came as Ukraine’s outgunned and outmanned forces pulled back from the embattled eastern city of Avdiivka in the face of the latest Russia advance in the area.

In late January, the EU publicly acknowledged that the bloc would fall far short of its target of sending one million artillery shells to Ukraine by March this year, saying that about half of that amount was going to be delivered by that deadline. 

Piecing together the numbers

According to EU numbers, based on information provided by the bloc’s member states, since February 2023, the bloc has donated 355,000 ammunition rounds to Ukraine.

By the end of March, the donation number is expected to reach 524,000 rounds, with around 1,155,000 ammunition rounds expected by the end of the year, according to the EU estimates. 

While those figures represent donations, EU member states also provide ammunition to Ukraine via commercial contracts. However, those numbers are usually not publicly available.

“These figures keep evolving (…) This is an additional important amount, which it would be good to know,” Borrell said, in a veiled criticism directed at EU member states for not properly reporting their deliveries in response to a recent review conducted by the bloc’s diplomatic service (EEAS).  

“In order to have the best possible overview of ammunition supplied to Ukraine, I would ask you to share – via the regular classified channels – information you might have, also on ammunition provided via commercial contracts,” Borrell added.

Several options

“One year after we launched the initiative and as we approach the second anniversary of Russia’s brutal and illegal invasion of Ukraine, we have to do more and quicker,” Borrell said.

In the letter, Borrell listed a range of possible pathways to increase ammunition deliveries in a shorter time.

“This means you have various options: digging further into your stock, where possible; placing orders by procuring on your own or – preferably – jointly from the European industry; buying ammunition immediately available on the market; or financing Ukrainian industry,” Borrell wrote.

According to estimates, the European defence industry has already increased its production capacity by at least 40%.

“Now industry says they can produce more with this additional capacity. What they need are concrete orders, with adequate financing,” Borrell wrote.

He also recalled that the European Defence Agency (EDA) has already put in place 60 framework contracts for 155mm calibre ammunition.

“Despite your initial indications, these contracts have been significantly under-utilised. They have a spare capacity of € 1.5 billion – which means they can absorb more orders for such an amount,” he wrote.

Borrell also highlighted recent announcements by several EU member states – such as the Czech Republic or Denmark – that they would be ready to send all available stocks of ammunition to Ukraine without delay.

“Some of you have also indicated there is ammunition readily available that could be provided to Ukraine immediately if funding is made available,” Borrell wrote.

“I encourage you to share additional information in this regard and take action so that ammunition could reach Ukraine as soon as possible.”

He said reimbursement for some of these options “can be sought from the European Peace Facility, and the EEAS is ready to facilitate coordination. What is needed is immediate financial liquidity”.

In the letter, the EU’s chief diplomat asked his EU counterparts to “consider the elements above” and provide him with an “indication of what more you can do”.

After that, Borrell said, he would be “ready to organise a dedicated meeting to see what more we can do collectively”.


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