EU strikes deal to send 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine over next year
More than a dozen EU member states have agreed a deal to send at least 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine over the coming year to bolster its defenses against the Russian invasion.
Ukraine has identified the supply of 155mm shells as a critical need as it engages in a fierce war of attrition with forces in Moscow.
Both sides fire thousands of artillery shells every day, and Ukrainian and Western leaders have warned in recent weeks that kyiv is burning the shells faster than its allies can replenish. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hailed the decision as “game changing”.
The plan, worth €2bn (£1.7bn), will be met via the countries’ own stockpiles and also by teaming up to buy more ammunition.
“We have reached a political consensus to send 1 million rounds of 155mm caliber cartridges to Ukraine,” Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign and security ministers. Defense in Brussels.
“There are many, many details left to [be] resolved, but for me it is very important that we conclude these negotiations and it shows me one thing: if there is a will, there is a way,” said Mr Pevkur, whose country had championed the movement .
“Exactly the right thing,” Mr. Kuleba wrote on Twitter. “Urgent delivery and sustainable joint purchasing”.
The plan approved by ministers was based on a proposal by 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, and 1 billion euros more in joint purchases.
The deal will likely mean that each country will have to share details of its ammunition stockpiles, which is normally kept secret. Borrell called the approval of the plan “historic”.
As part of the initiative, a group of 17 EU members plus Norway signed a document known as the Project Arrangement, setting out the terms of a joint effort to rapidly procure 155mm ammunition and a longer term program to purchase other ammunition. So far, these purchases have been largely in the hands of member governments.
The new joint effort will be led by the EU’s European Defense Agency, which said the joint approach was “the best option to achieve cost reduction from economies of scale”.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, whose country is taking part in the joint procurement initiative, described it as “new territory” for the EU. He said Germany would also open up its national framework contracts with the defense industry to other partners, as speed was essential.
“Our goal must be to ship a significant amount of ammunition to Ukraine before the end of this year,” he said.
Separately, the US has announced it will send another $350m (£285m) worth of weapons and equipment, as fierce battles continue for control of the eastern city of Bakhmut.
The latest set of aids includes a large amount of various types of munitions, such as High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) rockets, and an undisclosed number of tankers and riverboats.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the package also provides more ammunition for howitzers, Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, high-velocity anti-radiation missiles (HARMs) and anti-tank weapons.
“Only Russia could end its war today. Until Russia does, we will remain united with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” Blinken said in a statement.
At an internal conference in London on Monday, £4million was raised to support the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its investigations into alleged war crimes in Ukraine. Justice ministers from more than 40 countries gathered for the conference, just days after the world court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin. The court accuses Mr Putin of being responsible for the illegal expulsion of children from Ukraine. Moscow called the mandate “scandalous”.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said opening the meeting: “We share the belief that President Putin and all leaders must be held accountable…Let’s make sure we back up our words with deeds, that we back up our moral support with practical means to effectively investigate these horrific crimes.
Karim Khan, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, said the warrant against Mr Putin was not a moment of triumph but a “dark occasion”, reminding the world of the need for justice in Ukraine.
“If we don’t hold on to the law at this time of world affairs, if we don’t look at each other and ask ourselves how we can do better – not only will we miss an opportunity, but we may not have more opportunities,” says Khan.
Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report
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