The EU does not have any more munitions to send to Ukraine at the moment, and so must wait for its member states to produce more, the EU’s head diplomat has said.
Josep Borrell informed the public that the EU has already distributed all of the available ammunition from the stockpiles of member states and, as a result, it has to now rely on increasing domestic production. He revealed this information before the Foreign Affairs Council meeting, when the EU’s commitment to provide one million artillery shells to Kiev by March 2024 was called into question.
“I do not have ammunition here in Brussels. I do not have a stock of ammunition, I have to mobilize the stocks of the European armies,” he said.
Borrell emphasized that distributing what was already in the stockpiles of the armies is already complete and noted that they have already provided Ukraine with more than 300,000 shells. He admitted, however, that it is challenging to get more from the stockpiles of the armies, and that more has to be produced.
The figure that Borrell provided corroborates with earlier reports by Bloomberg, which had claimed that the EU has only given Kiev 30% of the promised shells. Borrell underscored that the flow of ammunition is now dependent on the manufacturing capacities of the bloc’s arms producers. He mentioned that approximately 40% of the European defense industry is being exported to third countries and that there is not a lack of production capacities.
This occurs as Ukrainian officials have recently renewed requests for additional weapons and other lethal aid, as Kiev’s much-anticipated counteroffensive failed to yield significant territorial gains. Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s top commander, was recently quoted in the Economist last month as describing the state of the conflict with Russia as “a stalemate.”
The news of a lag in ammunition supplies to Ukraine comes at a time when Ukraine has been unable to make progress in the conflict with Russia and has renewed its requests for additional lethal aid. The flows of munitions to Ukraine had been dependent on the stocks of the European armies. However, with the stockpiles exhausted, the EU is looking to increase domestic production. This news suggests that the production capacities in the European defense industry are insufficient in this regard.
The EU’s inability to supply Ukraine with the necessary artillery shells should be seen as a warning sign as to the limitations of the EU’s power. They are now gearing up for intensive domestic production for the acclaimed increased supply of a million artillery shells to Ukraine by March 2024.
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