European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks with the media as he arrives for a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the European Council building in Brussels on Monday, March 20, 2023. European Union foreign ministers on Monday will discuss the situation in Ukraine and Tunisia. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)The European Union’s foreign policy and security chief Josep Borrell has said that he hopes the bloc will agree a joint ammunition procurement deal for Ukraine on Monday.
Together, foreign affairs and defense (ministers) will, I hope, finish the agreement on providing ammunition to Ukraine,” he told reporters.
The chief diplomat warned of “difficulties” in continuing to supply arms to Ukraine if an “important decision” was not reached on Monday.
Some context: EU defense ministers earlier this month provisionally agreed a €2 billion ($2.1 billion) plan to purchase 155-millimeter artillery shells, and send more artillery rounds to Ukraine from EU countries’ existing stockpiles. A final decision is expected on Monday on the sidelines of the meeting of EU foreign and defense ministers in Brussels.
Speaking in Stockholm on March 9, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said his country needed one million rounds of ammunition “as soon as possible” to deter Russian forces.
The Russia-Ukraine war marks the first time the EU has supplied lethal weapons to a third country, underscoring the extent of the threat it believes Moscow poses to its security.
With the Ukraine war now in its second year, the EU — alongside the United States and the United Kingdom, Kyiv’s other two main backers — has reaffirmed its solidarity with Kyiv.
That solidarity has translated into further commitments on military spending. In early February, the bloc announced that it would inject another €545 million ($575 million) into its €3.6 billion ($3.8 billion) military assistance fund for Ukraine.
And in January, Germany, France, Poland and the UK agreed to supply modern battle tanks to Kyiv, responding to a longstanding call by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, despite fears that such a move could inflame the West’s tensions with Russia.