War in Europe The EU approves 2,000 million euros for the urgent shipment of ammunition to Ukraine

More ammo, faster and cheaper

War in Europe The EU approves 2,000 million euros for the urgent shipment of ammunition to Ukraine

More ammo, faster and cheaper. It is the European Union's priority in its support for Ukraine thirteen months after the start of the Russian invasion. The ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense have closed a political agreement on Monday in Brussels to launch the first joint purchase of arms in the history of the European project, according to AFP. The initialed plan establishes that 2,000 million euros will be allocated to finance the shipment of projectiles to the ranks led by Volodimir Zelenski and to redouble the production capacity of the industry.

The Russian Army fires up to three times more bullets on Ukrainian territory than Ukrainian soldiers. The military battle is already on the ground a fight of ammunition. With the taboos on sending anti-defense systems, medium-range projectiles, battle tanks and, recently, the first fighters from Poland and Slovakia broken down, the priority is now centered around ammunition. Kiev estimates that it needs about 350,000 projectiles a month to repel the Russian attacks and go on the counteroffensive, but the stocks of the European Armies and the production capacity of the industry on the Old Continent are well below that threshold.

To solve this gap, the EU has promoted a plan with three arteries that allocates 2,000 million euros, under the European Fund for Peace, to the shipment of ammunition, primarily 155-millimeter caliber howitzers, NATO standards. "There are many types of 155 mm, but we must focus on the most basic, we cannot get lost in different variants, but in the most useful ones," explain senior European sources.

The first leg is short term. It happens to urgently send the projectiles already available in the reserves of the capitals. The first 1,000 million will finance 50% of these deliveries. The second is with a broader view. The other 1,000 million euros will be part of a joint purchase of ammunition in the style of the one that the European Commission undertook with vaccines during the time of the pandemic. And the third seeks to boost production in the long term, in a long-term war in the background, of the European industry. Brussels has identified 15 companies in 11 Member States, including Spain, with the capacity to produce ammunition.

"It is a political decision. We still have to send the political message and above all send the ammunition because the Ukrainians need these projectiles and they need them now," said Gabrielius Landsbergis, upon arrival at the European Council building. One of the big questions is whether this agreement will materialize on time. There is still significant technical work to get it up and running. And many negotiations between countries and with the industry that could extend the delivery for months. Even if the contracts are signed tomorrow, it won't translate into a delivery in a matter of days. And the precedent for joint purchase in vaccines is not encouraging: the lack of transparency in the negotiations has been criticized and many of the doses purchased have not been used.

Misgivings are also redoubling in many capitals around an increasingly powerful European Commission, which has been gaining muscle and loudspeaker in this context of linked crises. Germany, for example, is already stepping on the brake. The country led by Olaf Scholz has unilaterally begun its own negotiations with the German war industry. In Brussels they try to play it down, alleging that everything adds up, that all paths are complementary, and that the objective is shared: to send more weapons, more modern and faster to Ukraine.

Another of the pending issues is whether to limit this investment to purchases on European soil or expand it to companies from third countries such as South Korea. The Europeans do not have a timetable for how many shells it will be able to produce or a clear delivery schedule. The modus operandi will be the one that has prevailed throughout the contest. Urgency, improvisation and determination according to the demands coming from the Ukrainian front lines. Finally, there is the moral question. The EU, a peace project, is moving towards an organization with more military muscle.

Lastly, the ministers welcomed the recent arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against Vladimir Putin. "Putin will be arrested if he travels to more than 130 countries (members of the TPI)," Borrell applauded. While the leaders of European diplomacy were consecrating themselves in Brussels, Chinese President Xi Jinping, meeting with Putin in Moscow, described the Hague decision as "double standards". "Xi and Putin signed an alliance without limits. The trip is part of this context. It does not surprise me, I do not find it surprising, but I hope that Xi conveys important messages, especially in the nuclear field," diplomatic sources affirm.

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