The EU wants to supply Ukraine with a million new artillery shells for the fight against Russia in the next twelve months. The foreign and defense ministers of the member states approved corresponding plans in Brussels, as the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell explained after joint consultations. They are intended to prevent bottlenecks in the Ukrainian armed forces and enable them to launch new offensives against the attackers from Russia.

According to the plans, two billion euros in EU funds will be mobilized in order to distribute the costs of the new ammunition as fairly as possible. The money is to come from the so-called Peace Facility (EFF). This is a financing instrument through which the EU already supplies arms and equipment and supports the training of the Ukrainian armed forces.

Pistorius: “We are thus bundling Europe’s market power”

According to Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, the additional ammunition is to be purchased via existing national framework agreements, but also via a new European procurement project by the European Defense Agency (EDA). “We are thus bundling Europe’s market power,” said the SPD politician. “It hasn’t existed in this form before.”

As the EDA announced, artillery shells with a caliber of 155 mm are to be bought for two years in a fast-track procedure. A seven-year project will also enable the joint procurement of other types of ammunition. In addition to Pistorius, representatives from 16 other EU countries and Norway signed a corresponding agreement. According to EU information, other states want to join.

The EU plans are based on concerns that Ukraine could be short of important ammunition in the near future. Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said in early March that his country urgently needed a million artillery shells. He estimated the financial requirements at four billion euros.

Costs are partly reimbursed from EU funds

According to diplomats, only 50 to 60 percent of costs will be reimbursed from EU funds in order to reach the delivery target. Initially, a rate of up to 90 percent was under discussion. Of the two billion euros in EU funds, one billion are to be used for refunds to those member states that quickly deliver to Ukraine from their own stocks. The second billion is intended to promote joint procurement projects. The idea is that bulk orders will lower prices and speed up orders.

“I’m assuming that production capacities will now be increased quickly,” Pistorius said when asked if he thought the defense industry now had enough planning security. The SPD politician did not want to put a figure on how much ammunition could be procured via existing German framework agreements with industry. According to him, corresponding offers from the industry should be available by the end of March, in which other countries could then also participate. “The first partners interested in getting involved are Denmark and the Netherlands,” he said.

European production could be significantly increased

The Russian armed forces fire an average of between 600,000 and 1.8 million rounds of artillery ammunition per month, according to figures from a background paper by the Estonian government, while Ukraine only fires 60,000 to 210,000 rounds. According to the information, the current production capacity of the European defense industry is currently 20,000 to 25,000 rounds per month. An expansion to 175,000 shots would be possible.

In order to enable the financing of more ammunition and weapons for Ukraine, according to the EU foreign policy representative, consideration should be given to quickly increasing the financial framework of the European Peace Facility by a further 3.5 billion euros (at 2018 prices). It was raised by two billion euros just a few days ago. Adjusted for inflation, the EFF last amounted to almost eight billion euros.