Meeting in Stockholm, the Ministers of Defense of the 27 seek ways to deliver more shells to kyiv. The Internal Market Commissioner even speaks of “quickly activating war economy mode”
European Union Defense Ministers met on March 8 to prepare a plan for delivering ammunition to Ukraine, despite stocks under pressure, with a first emergency component worth one billion euros. Western supporters in kyiv have warned in recent weeks that the Ukrainian army is facing a dire shortage of 155mm shells for its guns.
Ministers, meeting in Stockholm in the presence of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and their Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiï Reznikov, must work on a three-pronged plan. The objective is to move forward for adoption on March 20, during a meeting of the heads of European diplomacy.
Based on large joint purchases to reassure manufacturers about the continuity of orders, the project aims both to meet the immediate needs of Kiev and to increase the capacities of the European defense industry in the longer term.
The first part, designed by EU diplomats, aims to use a billion euros drawn from the “European Peace Facility (EPF)”, in order to deliver shells in stocks in the armies within a few weeks. of member states.
Ukraine’s European allies have already heavily dug into their military stocks, with support amounting to 12 billion euros, including 3.6 billion from the FEP.
According to European officials, there are still enough 155mm shells in storage not to put EU countries at risk. But the ministers of Defense must detail this point. The plan also foresees joint orders for the armies of the EU and Ukraine, aimed at encouraging shell manufacturers to increase their capacities.
Countries like Estonia, which had offered to do even more (four billion euros and a million shells), are demanding to go further. “According to Ukrainian needs, they would need at least 350,000 155mm shells per month,” Madis Roll, an Estonian defense ministry official, told AFP.
One of the outstanding questions remains the sponsor: should the shells be purchased by the European Union’s defense agency, or by member states with more experience of this type of contract?
Another point of disagreement: the hypothesis of buying shells outside Europe – a way of going faster according to some, but without supporting the European military-industrial complex, others worry.
But there is now a consensus within the 27 on the fact that after the many years of post-Cold War military disinvestment and so-called asymmetrical conflicts, it is now necessary to prepare for conflicts between great powers.
“European industry is not prepared for the needs of a high-intensity conflict,” warned EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton on 6 March. “Our defense industry must quickly activate the ‘war economy’ mode,” he pleaded to reporters.
In addition to joint orders, the commissioner must in particular plead with ministers on the need to release more funds for industrial capacities and favorable loans.