The European Union (EU) endorsed this Thursday a plan to send Ukraine one million rounds of artillery ammunition in the next 12 monthswhich will help Ukrainian forces counter the advance of invading Russian troops.
EU foreign and defense ministers approved the plan for a fast-track purchase procedure earlier this week and the heads of the bloc’s 27-member countries gave it their political blessing at a summit in Brussels.
“Taking into account the security and defense interests of all Member States, the European Council accepts the agreement… to deliver ground-to-ground and artillery ammunition to Ukraine and, if requested, missiles”read the conclusions of the meeting on Ukraine.
the ukrainian president Volodimir Zelensky He thanked the leaders for the initiative during a video call. According to a diplomat with direct knowledge of the conversation, the head of state spoke from a moving train during his visit to Ukrainian cities besieged by Vladimir Putin’s troops.
The diplomat, who could not be named because the discussions took place behind closed doors, said Zelensky also called for modern aircraft and long-range missiles to help Ukraine’s resistance.
Faced with the ammunition shortage in Ukraine after more than a year of combat, the Estonian Prime Minister kaja kallas floated the idea last month for the EU to set up a joint purchasing scheme similar to the one devised during the coronavirus pandemic to buy vaccines.
“It is critical to send ammunition to Ukraine soon, because that could bring about a change in this war,” Kallas said upon arrival at the summit.
Under the plan, the European Defense Agency, in parallel with the deliveries, will aggregate requests from member states for resupply and lead a fast-track procedure for direct negotiations with industrial ammunition suppliers in Europe.
“When we get this joint procurement, then the defense industry will have orders that they can really double their production, because they haven’t done that before now,” Kallas said.
According to various estimates, Ukraine fires between 6,000 and 7,000 artillery shells a dayabout a third of Russia’s total.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said this week he had obtained approval to earmark 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to encourage member countries to provide artillery shells from their stocks and any pending orders.
Slovakia has already handed over to Ukraine four of thirteen modernized Soviet-built MIG-29 supersonic fighters that he has donated to help him defend himself against the Russian invasion, the Ministry of Defense reported on Thursday.
The four aircraft “were flown by Ukrainian personnel, with the help of the Slovak Air Force and other army bodies, which provided security and the necessary documentation,” the ministry said.
The rest of the devices will be delivered to Ukraine “in the course of the next few weeks,” added the department headed by Jaroslav Nad.
In exchange for this fleet of supersonic fighters, which Slovakia cannot use since it does not have a maintenance company after breaking relations with a Russian entity, the EU will pay Bratislava 200 million euros from the Europe Fund for Peace.
Washington has also offered Bratislava a significant discount, of up to 60%, for the purchase of 12 new Bell AH-1z Viper combat helicopters.
(With information from AP and EFE)
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