European Union leaders were poised on Thursday to endorse a plan for sending Ukraine 1 million rounds of artillery ammunition within the next 12 months to help the country counter Russia’s invasion forces.
EU foreign and defence ministers approved the plan for a fast-track purchasing procedure earlier this week, and the leaders of the bloc’s 27 member nations will give it their political blessing at a summit in Brussels, according to several senior EU diplomats. They spoke anonymously under EU practices ahead of summits.
With Ukraine facing ammunition shortages after more than a year of fighting, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas brought to the table last month the idea of the EU setting up a joint purchasing plan similar to the one devised during the coronavirus pandemic to buy vaccines. “What is critical is sending ammunition to Ukraine fast, because that might bring a change in this war,” Kallas said as she arrived at the summit.
Under the plan, the European Defence Agency would in parallel with deliveries aggregate requests from member states to restock, and lead a fast-track procedure for direct negotiations with industrial providers of ammunition in Europe.
“When we have this joint procurement, then the defense industry has the orders that they can actually double their production, because they have not done so far,” Kallas said.
According to various estimates, Ukraine is firing 6,000-7,000 artillery shells a day, around a third of Russia’s total.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said this week he secured approval for earmarking 1 billion euros (USD 1.1 billion) to encourage member nations to provide artillery shells from their existing stocks and any pending orders.
Another 1 billion euros would go toward accelerating new orders and encouraging countries to work together on making purchases through the European Defence Agency or in groups of at least three nations.
Germany has already called for countries to join its own purchase effort, which Berlin believes will go faster.
Hungary has said it will not take part in getting ammunition to Ukraine, citing its commitment to peace, but said it would not prevent other members from doing so by blocking the deal.
Guterres described a grim global situation, with the world facing a “perfect storm” in many parts of the world.
“More hunger, more poverty, less education, less health services,” he said. “And it is clear that our international financial system is not fit for purpose to deal with such a huge challenge.”
The EU leaders also are set to discuss the bloc’s competitiveness and its response to the USD 369 billion US Inflation Reduction Act. Friday’s discussions will focus on economic and financial.
Slovakia delivers first 4 Soviet-era MiG-29 jets to Ukraine
The first four of 13 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets that Slovakia decided to give Ukraine have been safely handed over to the Ukrainian air force, the Slovak Defence Ministry said on Thursday.
The ministry said the warplanes were flown from Slovakia to Ukraine by Ukrainian pilots with help from the Slovak air force, Ukrainian personnel and others. “I thank (all) involved for a fantastic professional job,” defence Minister Jaroslav Nad said.
The ministry said the remaining MiG-29s will be handed over to the Ukrainian side in the coming weeks. It said it will not provide any additional details until they’re safely in Ukraine.
On Friday, the Slovak government approved a plan to give Ukraine its fleet of 13 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets.