Title: EU Struggles to Meet Ukraine’s Urgent Artillery Needs, Target Delayed
The European Union (EU) is facing challenges in meeting its target of supplying Ukraine with 1 million artillery shells and missiles by March, as announced by the German Defense Minister. The urgency stems from the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, where the former requires 155mm artillery shells to defend itself.
EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, has called on defense ministers to expedite efforts and increase their contributions, emphasizing the critical factor of time in preventing further human casualties. To date, the EU has provided over 300,000 artillery shells and missiles from member states’ stockpiles. However, the immediate concern lies in the export commitments of EU defense manufacturers outside the bloc, accounting for approximately 40% of production.
Thierry Breton, the EU industry commissioner, expressed optimism that arms companies are making progress in ramping up production, thereby making the goal of producing 1 million rounds of ammunition annually attainable. Nevertheless, EU sources recognize that ammunition supply chains are strained; however, they assert that the EU possesses more capacity than the United States.
The Swedish defense minister highlighted an inherent flaw within the EU defense industry, stating it is primarily designed for peacetime conditions rather than large-scale war. This observation sheds light on the complexities the EU faces in responding to Ukraine’s immediate needs.
While the US remains the largest supporter of Ukraine, followed by Germany, the UK, and Norway, France has spent a staggering €3.2 billion on military support for Ukraine. Germany has committed €10.5 billion between next year and 2027, with €2 billion already contributed in 2022 and a further €5.4 billion planned for 2023.
Efforts to meet Ukraine’s artillery needs have been hindered by various factors, including the limitations of EU defense manufacturing capabilities, stretched ammunition supply chains, and the reliance on external manufacturers. However, the EU is determined to uphold its commitment to Ukraine’s defense, with industry progression and increased production underway to bridge the gap between supply and demand.
As Ukraine continues to face imminent threats, it is crucial for the EU and its member states to expedite their efforts, ensuring the provision of essential artillery support to prevent further human casualties in the ongoing conflict.
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