Latvia's President Believes EU Should Find Ammunition for Ukraine Abroad

Friday, 17 November 2023

Edgars Rinkēvičs, the President of Latvia, has called on the EU to buy artillery shells for Ukraine outside its borders, since the European Union itself does not have enough time to provide artillery ammunition according to the schedule, where the deadline is March 2024.

"We have advocated for a long time that if there is not enough ammunition, or there is not enough equipment in the EU, then let's buy it somewhere else and give it to Ukraine," Rinkēvičs said in an interview with Politico.

"It is now important that Ukraine keeps fighting and Ukraine gets what they need," he added.

Whether all the ammunition that the EU wants to deliver to Kyiv should be produced by companies in the European Union and in Norway has been controversial since the very beginning of the one million rounds of ammunition initiative. France, which has the largest defence sector in the EU, insisted on tough restrictions on bringing non-EU munitions into the initiative.

Other countries, including Sweden and the Baltic States, were more open to purchasing shells beyond Europe.

"Our current major challenge is not so much defence spending, we are raising that, but where you can actually find equipment to replenish your stocks, to rearm your defence forces," Rinkēvičs said, adding that it should be considered that the war in Ukraine will last longer than could be predicted a year and a half ago.

The president of Latvia also expressed concern that problems in the EU could affect the US, where aid to Ukraine also faces political difficulties.

"Where I'm getting a bit concerned when I talk with Americans is that they are living under the impression that Europe is not giving enough even though we are actually spending more on Ukraine, if we combine both military and all kinds of programs, than the United States," Rinkēvičs said.

"And that's where I think that if they hear again that Europe is not able to produce enough ammunition or to give enough financial support, then this will have some negative impact also in debate in the United States because there is going to be an argument that ‘look guys, if Europe is not doing enough or if Europe doesn't care, then we shouldn't care," Rinkēvičs added.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that the European Union will not be able to carry out its plan to supply one million artillery shells to Ukraine by March 2024 due to the state of defence production and bureaucratic obstacles.

This was also recognised by German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius.

The European Commission believes that the EU can produce more than 1 million rounds of artillery per year by spring, and the fulfilment of the promise of "a million artillery rounds for Ukraine" is possible if the EU countries make efforts for this.

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