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Czechia suggests buying shells for Ukraine outside EU

Czechia suggests buying shells for Ukraine outside EU Photo: Czechia offers its partners to buy almost half a million shells for Ukraine (Getty Images)

Czechia is pushing EU countries to finance the purchase of what it estimates is 450,000 artillery munitions available outside the bloc, writes Politico.

"Europe is falling way short on its pledge to send 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine by March, and the Czechs say it’s high time to look beyond the borders of the EU for supplies," the article says.

France has led calls for Europe to build up its industrial capacity to supply ammunition to Ukraine. However, the EU now declares that 524,000 shells will be delivered to Ukraine by the March deadline, while only 1.1 million have been promised by the end of the year.

Politico writes that when the EU refined its military aid commitments in early 2023, France, the bloc's defense industry leader, insisted that subsidies focus only on local production and not go outside the EU.

Where Europe can buy ammunition

The article states that the Czech appeal raises the possibility that Europe will instead turn to the arms companies of South Korea, Türkiye, and South Africa.

According to the official, the EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, specifically mentioned that Korea could be involved in receiving additional shells.

The EU's plan to increase ammunition supplies includes reimbursing countries with billions of euros through the European Peace Facility for sending shells from existing stockpiles.

This would exist along with €1 billion to push joint procurement of ammunition by the European Defence Agency and €500 million to support ammunition production projects.

Ammunition problems exist not only in the EU

One diplomat said the 450,000 figure was floated during an informal meeting of EU defense ministers in Brussels on Wednesday.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala then told his counterparts at the summit of EU leaders on Thursday that the shells could be sourced from outside the EU to help the bloc fulfill its pledges.

"The EU is not the only ally failing to deliver. Political gridlock in Washington has also halted U.S. arms flows to Ukraine," writes Politico.

Shells for Ukraine

In March 2023, the ministers of defense and foreign affairs of the EU agreed on a plan for the joint procurement of ammunition. It envisages providing Ukraine with 1 million shells over the next 12 months. In particular, it was about seven countries.

But already in November, the EU informed its members that it is unlikely to be able to transfer the promised 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine. This plan should be completed by March 2024.

At the same time, at the end of November, the EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, citing statistical data, stated that by the spring of 2024, the production potential of defense enterprises in the EU will amount to more than a million artillery shells. However, the transfer of ammunition to Ukraine requires an appropriate solution, which does not exist yet.