EU considers 'war economy' in effort to rush ammo to Ukraine
Ukraine's Western backers claim that Kiev is facing a serious shortage of 155-millimeter howitzer munitions.
EU defense ministers will meet on Wednesday to discuss plans to raid their stockpiles and send one billion euros worth of ammunition to Ukraine, as well as put joint orders for more to keep supplies flowing.
Ukraine's Western backers claim that Kiev faces a severe shortage of 155-millimeter howitzer munitions.
During the meeting in Stockholm, ministers will reportedly discuss with their Ukrainian official Oleksiy Reznikova, a three-pronged approach to address Kiev's immediate demands while also bolstering Europe's defense sector in the long run.
The EU's foreign policy service proposes spending a billion euros ($1.06 billion) from the bloc's joint European Peace Fund to urge member states to provide shells in their stocks to Kiev within weeks.
Ukraine's European partners have already drained their stocks, pledging 12 billion euros in military supplies, with 3.6 billion euros coming from the joint fund.
Officials claim they are sure that there are enough 155-mm munitions in storage to keep Europe's defenses from becoming overly vulnerable. During their meeting, the defense ministers are expected to share more information.
Last December, the European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell noted that the war in Ukraine had depleted the EU's weapon stockpiles, showing that it lacks "critical" capabilities to protect against threats on its border.
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The strategy's second component is to aggregate EU and Ukrainian demands in order to place big joint purchases that would incentivize ammunition manufacturers to increase production.
Officials suggest that the money to satisfy Ukraine's demands could come from another one billion euros already in the common stakes.
Estonia, the ex-Soviet republic that proposed spending four billion euros on a million shells for Ukraine, wants additional funds.
"According to Ukrainian needs, they would need at least 350,000 155-mm rounds per month," Madis Roll, a senior official at Estonia's defense ministry, said as quoted by AFP.
"Therefore, Estonia has proposed the initiative to jointly procure at least one million 155-mm ammunition rounds to Ukraine, which is the absolute minimum military requirement for Ukraine," Roll added.
This comes shortly after the Commissioner for Internal Market of the European Union Thierry Breton argued that the European defense industry must shift "to a wartime economy model to cater for our defense production needs."
It was also noted that several EU members remain skeptical of Brenton's suggestions. One of the primary questions asked by the skeptics is "How are we going to pay for this?"
Read next: Europe still rushing arms to Ukraine, albeit running out of ammo: WSJ