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EU promises to send Ukraine 1 million more artillery shells

By JONATHAN POWELL in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-03-22 09:13

Bloc says armaments worth more than $2 billion will replace spent munitions

Flags of Ukraine fly in front of the EU Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium, February 24, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

European Union member states have joined together to supply Ukraine with 1 million artillery shells in an initiative worth 2 billion euros ($2.14 billion).

The collective procurement plan, which begins immediately via the European Defense Agency, or EDA, will be used to replenish Kyiv with armaments depleted by the Russia-Ukraine conflict that broke out in February last year.

The deal, based on a proposal from EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to spend 1 billion euros on shells from stockpiles to get more supplies to Kyiv as soon as possible, plus 1 billion more on joint procurement, was agreed at a meeting of EU foreign and defense ministers in Brussels on Monday.

The EU hopes the joint order will motivate European armaments manufacturers to increase their output, as current production in Europe is said to be short of levels Ukraine insists it needs, reported the Reuters news agency.

So far, 17 EU countries plus Norway have signed the ammunition agreement, with more expected to join later, said a statement from the EDA. The joint procurement will be limited to armaments companies from the EU and Norway, it added.

The project "answers the call" to procure ammunition collectively and more quickly by "aggregating, coordinating, and agreeing contracts with the European defense industry", the statement said.

The EDA said the common approach was "the best option to achieve cost reduction from economies of scale".

The EDA noted that the deal means each country will have to share details of their ammunition stockpiles, which is something normally kept a secret. Defense procurement in the EU has largely been under the jurisdiction of individual member governments until now.

Borrell said the agreement breaks new ground, describing it on Twitter as "a historic decision "for the 27-nation bloc.

"Today, we take a step forward," he said. "We are again breaking a taboo and unlocking the potential of EU cooperation in joint procurement."

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the EU move was a "game-changing decision".

"Exactly what is needed. Urgent delivery and sustainable joint procurement," Kuleba said in a social media post.

The Times reported that the agreement leads the way for more EU arms purchase policies and raises questions on whether to use funding from the bloc's lending facility, the European Investment Bank, which could be seen as contravening EU treaties.

Separately, the United States announced on Monday it will send another $350 million worth of weapons and equipment to Ukraine.

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