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Czechia advocates for purchase of artillery shells for Ukraine outside EU

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Europe is failing to deliver on its promise to send one million artillery shells to Ukraine by March, and the Czechs say it is time to look outside the EU for supplies.

Source: European Pravda with reference to Politico

Details: The EU initially pledged to supply one million shells by March, and France led calls for Europe to build up its own industrial capacity to deliver the munitions to Kyiv. However, the EU now says that Ukraine will receive 524,000 rounds by March, and only 1.1 million rounds by the end of the year.

Frustrated by the shortfall, Prague is pushing EU countries to fund the purchase of what it estimates to be 450,000 artillery shells available outside the EU, four diplomats and a person familiar with the negotiations told Politico.

When the EU outlined its military aid commitments in early 2023, France – the community’s defence industry leader – insisted that subsidies be directed only to local production and not outsourced.

But Czechia’s call raises the possibility that Europe will instead turn to arms companies in South Korea, Türkiye and South Africa. EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell has highlighted that Korea, a major arms producer, could be used to obtain additional rounds.

One diplomat said that the 450,000 figure was announced during an informal meeting of EU defence ministers in Brussels on Wednesday. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala told his counterparts during a summit of EU leaders on Thursday that the shells could be sourced from outside the EU to help the EU fulfil its pledge, according to another official briefed on the talks.

Background: In early January, the European Commission expressed confidence that the EU would be able to produce one million rounds of ammunition for Ukraine by spring, despite the fact that the process has stalled.

In early December, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius reiterated his previous statement that the EU would not be able to transfer one million munitions to Ukraine until spring 2024, but promised that the situation would improve.

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