Ukraine has been saying for weeks that it needs around 400,000 rounds a month to stop the Russian counter-offensive and retake the occupied territory, but that amount of ammunition almost exceeds the total production capacity of the European industry, since only a dozen companies can provide the necessary material, of caliber 155 in particular.

In March, in a letter whose content EL MUNDO had access to, the Ukrainian Defense Minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, stated that his forces are using just over 100,000 155-mm caliber projectiles per month, a quarter of what the troops do. from Putin. Kiev maintains that thanks to shipments from NATO members in the last year, it has enough systems to fire almost 600,000 shells each month, and according to its calculations “to achieve success on the battlefield the minimum need is at least 60 %, or 356,400 shells”. If it had 600,000, insurance would be imposed, say its generals, and the EU believes that in less than a year it will be able to cover these production needs.

“We have retained a substantial and diversified industrial base for ammunition production in Europe. Today it does not have the scale to meet the security needs of Ukraine and our Member States. But it has the potential to do so. We can and must revitalize it to suit the changing necessities of a high intensity conflict”.

“I am sure that within 12 months we will be able to increase our production capacity to one million projectiles per year in Europe,” explains Thierry Breton, French Commissioner for the Internal Market, who will present his initiatives to the Commissioner’s College on Wednesday. One million is what the EU agreed on March 20 that it would try to send, pulling its arsenals and deposits, to its partner.

Also in March, the High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, made a proposal to try to bring up to 2,000 million euros in aid for ammunition to Ukraine. The idea was that each partner urgently sent what they had in stock to kyiv, even if it was kept to a minimum, because the priority was clear. Then they would be replenished with the orders in progress to the sector. And secondly, the idea was also to make a macro-order to the European industry so that, knowing the total demand in time, the companies could make the necessary investments to be able to increase production to the necessary levels.

The Defense industry works by order, not by stock, and more so in times of peace. It can increase, there is no doubt, but for that it requires clear guarantees. “By traveling through our Member States I have been able to see Europe’s production capacity up close. We have nothing to envy our partners. But when it comes to Defense, our industry must now switch to war economy mode. We have retained a Substantial and diversified industrial base for ammunition production in Europe that today does not have the scale to meet the security needs of Ukraine and our Member States But has the potential to do so We can and must revitalize it to suit the needs of a conflict high intensity,” explains Breton.

This Wednesday the College of Commissioners will address the so-called EU Act to Support Ammunition Production (ASAP), which means the legislation to support the production of ammunition, but whose acronym in English, in a play on words, also means ‘as soon as possible’ .

The commissioner was a few weeks ago at the DEZAMET S.A. ammunition plant. in Nowa Deba, in south-eastern Poland, accompanied by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and his Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak, who lamented that Ukraine can only use 6,000 artillery shells a day, given that Russian forces have launched as many as 50,000 rounds of various types of ammunition each day. A few days earlier, the French politician had been in the city of Sopot, the headquarters of VMZ, the largest Bulgarian state-owned arms and ammunition factory.

“To support Ukraine in the very short term, we must continue to supply it with our stocks. But we must also re-prioritize production. The legislation we are proposing is unprecedented. Its aim is to directly support, with EU money, the increase in our defense industry for Ukraine and for our own security”, explains the commissioner, one of the most active in the legislature. “With this initiative we will complete the Europe of Defense. After supporting cooperation in research and development (European Defense Fund) and supporting joint purchases (EDIRPA), we intend to support the defense industrial production base,” he adds.

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