Latest World News

The European Union approves a plan to send one million artillery shells to Ukraine


v + T – normal size

European Union nations agreed on Monday a two billion euro plan to send one million artillery shells to Ukraine over the next year from its stockpiles and cooperate to buy more, officials said.

“We have reached a political consensus to send one million rounds of 155 mm ammunition to Ukraine,” Estonian Defense Minister Hannu Pevkur told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting in Brussels of EU foreign and defense ministers.

“There are many details still to be resolved, but for me the most important thing is to conclude these negotiations and show me one thing: as long as there is a will, there is a way,” said Pefkor, whose country led the initiative.

The plan approved by the ministers was based on a proposal by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to spend 1 billion euros on missiles from stockpiles and spend another 1 billion euros on joint procurement.

Joint purchases are limited to companies from the European Union and Norway, which have close economic ties to the bloc.

Some EU governments wanted the initiative to be open to a wider market, arguing that this could help move munitions more quickly to Ukraine.

But others said EU money should go to EU companies and insisted they had the capacity to meet demand.

As part of the initiative, a group of 17 bloc members plus Norway signed a document outlining the terms of a joint effort to promptly purchase 155mm ammunition and to establish a long-term program for the purchase of other ammunition.

This represents an important step in the integration of the European Union because defense procurement in the bloc has been largely in the hands of each single government until now.

The new joint procurement effort will be led by the European Union’s European Defense Agency, which has said a joint approach is “the best option for cost reduction in economies of scale”.

Borrell praised the ministers’ approval of the plan, describing it as a “historic decision”.

Ukraine has identified its supply of 155-millimeter shells as an essential need, as it is involved in a fierce war with Russian forces, a war in which both sides fire thousands of artillery rounds every day.

Ukrainian and Western leaders have indicated in recent weeks that Kiev is consuming the shells faster than its allies can supply them, renewing the push to send supplies and find ways to boost production.

Two billion euros for the plan comes from the European Peace Facility, a fund run by the bloc that compensates member states in part for military aid.

So far, about 3.6 billion euros have been paid for munitions and other materials to Ukraine.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, whose country is participating in the joint procurement initiative, said this was a “new area” for the EU.

He added that Germany would also open its basic national contracts with the defense industry to other partners due to the importance of the speed factor.

“Our goal should be to ship a large amount of ammunition to Ukraine before the end of this year,” he said.