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EU countries failing to meet ammunition production demands for Ukraine

A Ukrainian territorial defence deminer takes Russian ammunition left behind as his team clears mines near Hrakove village, Ukraine, Oct. 13, 2022.
A Ukrainian territorial defence deminer takes Russian ammunition left behind as his team clears mines near Hrakove village, Ukraine, Oct. 13, 2022. Copyright AP Photo/Francisco Seco
Copyright AP Photo/Francisco Seco
By Maria Psara
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The European Union promised earlier this year to provide one million rounds of ammunition to Kyiv by next March, but, so far, only 30% of this target has been achieved.


At a meeting of the bloc's defence ministers Tuesday in Brussels, concerns were raised that the EU will be unable to keep its promise.

"We have to assume that the one million target will not be reached," Boris Pistorius, the German Minister of Defense told reporters.

"There is a question of whether one million was ever realistic. One million is easy to decide and the money is there, but the production has to be there. 

"Unfortunately, the warning voices are now right. We have made a major contribution with our framework agreements and will continue to do so. We are in discussions with the defence industry. Production must be ramped up and accelerated. This is the hour of need [for Ukraine]."

So why is the EU unlikely to be able to deliver on its promise?

One reason is that Europe has given as much as it can from its stocks and now needs to produce more.

According to some experts, taking into account that Ukraine's artillery uses around 45,000 shells per week, within two months the entire annual production of the European Union could be consumed.

Funding is also a problem when it comes to increasing production.

"One of these problems concerns the defence industry, which needs assurances from the member states that it will not invest unfairly, will not invest resources for new production lines, and after two years the member states will say 'we don't need any more ammunition'," Nikos Votsios, a Greek defence consultant, told Euronews.

"So, they need long-term contracts. Large industries may be able to obtain financing from international markets or have their own resources to invest, but smaller ones should turn to European banking institutions.

"But European banks do not lend to defence industries as a result of taxonomy and the fact that the defence industries have been classified as unsustainable."

There are also other problems, such as the lack of skilled labour and suitable machinery.

But the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, who is responsible for the capacity of production, is optimistic. 

He said that everything is now in the hands of EU countries.

"As far as I am concerned, I am responsible for the ammunition production capacity," Breton explained. "Production capacity in the European Union has increased by between 20% and 30% since February."


"I therefore confirm to you that the objective of producing more than one million munitions on an annual basis, that we had set and that we wish to achieve from the spring, will be met. 

"Now it is up to the member states to place the orders."

As the war in Ukraine approaches the winter, which brings with it more perilous conditions, pressure is mounting. 

The White House said on Friday that North Korea has delivered more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions to Russia, meaning Europe and its allies must soon step up.

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