Three EU countries block critical ammunition purchase decision for Ukraine amid severe deficit — Politico

European Union
European Union

France, Greece, and Cyprus have blocked a decision to purchase ammunition for Ukraine outside the bloc, Politico reported on Feb. 16, citing European diplomats.

This decision would have enabled the EU to address the severe ammunition deficit in Ukraine while simultaneously increasing the production of shells within the bloc.

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The blockade stemmed from the requirement that European arms manufacturers need orders to justify ramping up production.

During a recent meeting of the Political and Security Committee earlier this week, a majority of EU countries were in favor of allowing EU money to be used to buy non-EU-produced shells as an emergency measure to help Ukraine, Politico said.

A senior French official said that his country would allow non-EU purchases if the bloc missed its target of delivering 1 million shells to Ukraine by March, reassuring that the goal would be met.

EU High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell said on Jan. 31 that by March, the EU would fulfill only 52% of its pledge to provide Ukraine with one million artillery shells in one year.

Read also: Netherlands to spend $94 million on artillery shells for Ukraine

Ukraine's military is dramatically outmatched by Russia in terms of available artillery ammunition, and this deficit is growing deeper every day, Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said in a letter to his EU counterparts, reported by Bloomberg on Jan. 31.

Umerov appealed to the EU to deliver the promised one million artillery shells so that Ukraine could at least match Russia's firepower. Ukraine needs 200,000 155mm shells per month, he said. Meanwhile, Moscow can receive almost twice as many munitions, with about one million shells having arrived in Russia from North Korea.

European Commission spokesperson Johanna Bernsel said during a briefing in Brussels on Jan. 11 that the European Union will be able to produce one million rounds of ammunition for Ukraine by the end of winter 2024.

The EU is set to provide Ukraine with more than one million artillery shells by the end of 2024, Borrell said during his press briefing in Kyiv on Feb. 7.

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