Europe 1 with AFP 06:34, March 20, 2023On the 390th day of the Russian invasion, the European Union this week finalizes a €2 billion plan to finance joint purchases of artillery ammunition that Ukraine needs to counter the offensive by Russian troops.
The European Union this week finalizes a €2 billion plan to fund joint purchases of artillery ammunition that Ukraine desperately needs to counter the offensive by Russian troops. The project is expected to provide Ukrainian forces with at least one million 155mm shells and replenish the strategic stocks of EU countries, some of which are close to exhaustion.
"We don't have white smoke yet," an EU official said Sunday. "Two member states, the Netherlands and Italy, still have reservations, but there is no blockage. They should be able to be lifted for the meeting of foreign and defence ministers on Monday in Brussels," a diplomat said. The agreement will then be submitted to EU leaders for their summit on Thursday and Friday.
The EU is responding to an urgent appeal launched on 9 March by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as his troops are limiting their firepower due to lack of ammunition.
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"We have entered the dangerous phase of war. The Russians have more than 300,000 fighters massed for an offensive and we need to help Ukrainian forces resist," a senior EU official said.
- The European Union this week finalises a €2 billion plan to finance joint purchases of artillery ammunition to Ukraine.
- The Netherlands and Italy have reservations about this funding.
- For his part, Vladimir Putin held a meeting in Rostov-on-Don (southern Russia), not far from the Ukrainian border, with Russian army officials.
Rearming the EU
President Vladimir Putin held a meeting in Rostov-on-Don (southern Russia), not far from the Ukrainian border, with Russian military officials, including Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov.
"Time is running out: we need to deliver more artillery ammunition and we need to do it faster," Borrell said. It asks member states to use the €2 billion allocated in December to bail out the European Peace Facility, the intergovernmental fund used since the beginning of the war for arms supplies to Ukraine.
One billion euros will be used to reimburse member states for ammunition taken from their stocks, at a price of 1,000 to 1,300 euros per shell, it was said. A shell is worth 4,000 euros to date and prices are rising.
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"The Ukrainians want ammunition for their artillery and missiles for their air defence and the EU will provide them," said the representative of a member state. The agreement provides for supplies by May 31, he said. The state of stocks is a military secret, but "we believe that there is still ammunition and we are trying to encourage their delivery," the senior EU official said.
A second billion will be used for joint purchases of 155mm ammunition for Ukraine. Contracts are scheduled for September with the objective of reducing the time to supply and deliver to 6-8 months.
The third part of Josep Borrell's plan aims to increase the production capacities of the dozen EU arms companies to "replenish the stocks of EU countries and continue to supply Ukrainian forces".
The war 'will last'
"This war is destined to last and the needs of the Ukrainian forces are very important," a diplomat said. "The EU must rearm," he insisted.
"The goal of supplying Ukraine with at least one million 155mm shells is widely shared," a diplomat said. "Destocking and supplies are continuous," explained the representative of a Member State. "We do not know everything that states are doing and not all of them are asking for refunds," Borrell's office acknowledges.
European military aid to Ukraine is estimated at €12 billion, of which €3.6 billion is via the European Peace Facility, 63% of which is financed by contributions from Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
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The Europeans will also have trained 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers "by the end of April", said a program official. An agreement in principle has been reached to allocate new funding of 3.5 billion euros to supplement the Facility and "the discussion could be launched as early as this week", said a European official. "Here we go," said a European diplomat.