EU defense ministers on Wednesday discussed plans to raid their stockpiles to rush one billion euros’ worth of ammunition to Ukraine and place joint orders for more to ensure supplies keep flowing.
Ukraine’s Western backers warn that Kyiv is facing a critical shortage of 155-millimetre howitzer shells as it fires thousands each day in its fight against a grinding Russian offensive.
Ministers meeting with their Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Reznikov in Stockholm were debating a three-pronged push to meet Kyiv’s immediate needs and bolster Europe’s defence industry for the longer term.
“Our priority number one is air defense systems, and also ammunition, ammunition and again ammunition,” Reznikov said as he arrived for the meeting.
The first part of the plan, as laid out by the EU’s foreign policy service, envisions using a billion euros ($1.06 billion) from the bloc’s joint European Peace Facility to get member states to send shells in their stocks to Kyiv within weeks.
Ukraine’s European allies have already depleted their shelves, committing some 12 billion euros of military support, with 3.6 billion euros coming from the joint fund.
There are questions over how many shells Europe can spare without leaving itself too vulnerable, and defence ministers were due to provide details.
“I don’t know which is the level of stockpiles, that is why we are here together,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.
The second part of the plan is to pool EU and Ukraine demands to place massive joint orders that would incentivise ammunition producers to ramp up their capacity.
The move represents an important shift for the 27-nation bloc as Russia’s war has sped up the push to coordinate more on defence.
Baltic state Estonia initially proposed spending four billion euros on a million shells for Ukraine and wants more new funds committed.