EU Falls behind Schedule to Provide Ukraine with Shells

Thursday, 26 October 2023

The European Union is falling behind its plan to provide Ukraine with one million artillery shells by March 2024.

As stated in the plans approved earlier this year, the EU promised to provide Ukraine with artillery ammunition within 12 months. Initially, from existing stockpiles, and then through joint procurement contracts and increased industrial capacity.

Sources and documents reviewed by Bloomberg indicated that this initiative has so far provided about 30% of the planned amount. Based on the volume of contracts signed to date, it is at risk of not reaching its target. 

Several EU member states have privately asked the EU's foreign policy department to extend the deadline for the contracts.

The United States, which is seeking to increase its own production to about 1 million projectiles a year in 2024, has called on the EU to step up its efforts, the sources said. White House officials have declined to comment.

With Ukraine's counteroffensive making limited progress and its allies preparing for a prolonged war, the ammunition supplies promised by the EU are critical to helping Ukraine keep up with Russian production. 

Some estimates have shown that Russian factories will deliver 2 million shells next year, while Moscow has also received supplies from North Korea and continues to purchase Soviet-era shells.

EU member states have been reluctant to provide specific data on what they have provided or the contracts they have signed.

Some countries, however, have shared figures privately. Around a dozen countries, including the Baltic states, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland, have supplied or are planning to supply between 300,000 and 400,000 rounds of ammunition, mostly under the EU initiative. 

Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, the latter not being an EU member state, have placed orders worth €52 million, with production to begin next year.

One source said that the price of ammunition has risen since the initiative was launched, meaning that the current budget may not be sufficient to meet its goals.

These figures do not include all shipments made since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, and some countries may have sourced ammunition from outside the EU or not disclosed their shipments. 

Some EU member states also have their own procurement programmes and are seeking to strengthen their industrial capabilities, much like Ukraine.

Meanwhile, NATO is pushing its member states to overcome protectionist tendencies and agree on a single standard for artillery ammunition to increase production.

If you notice an error, select the required text and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editors.