BRUSSELS: Germany on Tuesday said the EU would not be able to meet its target of providing Kiev with a million artillery shells by March, deepening despair over Western efforts to support Ukraine.
The pessimistic assessment comes at a gloomy time for Ukraine, as the counter-offensive has failed to gain territory and Israel’s war with Hamas has distracted its key allies.
The European Union last year pledged to send one million urgently needed howitzer shells to Ukraine by March 2024 to help Kiev fight against Russia’s occupying forces.
So far EU countries have only managed to procure 300,000 bullets from their existing stocks.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that countries have placed a joint order for 180,000 more 155-millimeter bullets, but this figure will only be announced by the end of next year.
Ukraine announces strengthening of air defense for winter offensives
“Unfortunately, the warning voices are now justified,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said at a meeting with EU counterparts in Brussels on Monday.
“One million will not be reached. We have to assume that.”
Borrell said a key problem is that European defense firms export about 40 percent of their production to other countries.
“Maybe what we should do is try to shift its production to Ukraine, which is the primary production. That would be a pretty big change,” he said.
Thierry Breton, the EU member responsible for the internal market, said efforts to increase production were effective and the EU should be able to produce one million bullets a year.
The EU must surrender
Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said that his country ordered 280 million euros ($303 million) of ammunition, which is “currently the largest purchase in Europe.”
“Look at Russia. Today they produce more than ever. They buy bullets from North Korea. “Europe cannot say that Russia and North Korea can achieve this and we cannot do it either,” he said.
“We do not have the luxury of saying we are tired, because Ukrainians are not tired,” Pevkur said. AFP.
The EU’s push to deliver on promised deliveries comes as opposition in the US Congress casts doubt on key ally Washington’s ability to maintain supplies.
“The war is definitely taking longer than expected,” Borrell said.
“We must continue to doggedly provide support, even more so.”
Brussels says it has transferred 27 billion euros worth of military support to Ukraine together with EU member states since Moscow’s invasion in February 2022.
However, the plan to provide guaranteed support to Kiev in the long term failed.
Borrell in July proposed a new defense fund of 20 billion euros over the next four years to help cover arms shipments to Ukraine.
The plan was part of a broader G7 pledge to provide long-term security commitments to Kiev to help thwart Russian aggression.
Discussions on the EU initiative have stalled due to doubts from key member states.
Germany, which last week said it would double its funding for Ukraine to eight billion euros next year, is reluctant to allocate more money to the EU pot.
Hungary, Russia’s closest ally in the bloc, also expressed doubts about the plan.
Borrell said the EU would present its revised plan to Ukraine by the end of the month, ahead of EU leaders’ debate on its approval in December.
news source (www.brecorder.com)