EU leaders are set to approve an agreement that will send 1 million rounds of artillery shells to Ukraine over the next 12 months. To assist the country in countering Russia’s invasion forces.
According to several senior EU diplomats, the fast-track process was adopted earlier this week during a meeting of foreign and defence ministers, and leaders gathered in Brussels on Thursday will grant it their political blessing.
With Ukraine facing ammunition shortages in its battle against Russia, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas proposed last month establishing a joint purchasing plan similar to the one developed during the coronavirus pandemic to purchase vaccines.
Joseph Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said he has received approval for his plan to provide 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to urge member nations to provide artillery shells from their stocks as well as any orders for new rounds they may have placed with industry.
A further 1 billion euros would also be used to fast-track new orders and encourage countries to work together on those purchases through the European Defense Agency or in groups of at least three nations.
Germany has already called for countries to join its own effort, which Berlin believes will go faster.
Among the 27 EU countries, Hungary has announced it will not take part in the supply of ammunition to Ukraine, citing its commitment to peace, but said it will not prevent other members from doing so by blocking the deal. Last month, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the bloc is partly to blame for prolonging Russia’s war in Ukraine by sanctioning Russia and supplying Ukraine with money and weapons, rather than seeking to negotiate peace with Moscow.
According to various estimates, Ukraine is firing 6,000-7,000 artillery shells daily, around a third of Russia’s total, one year into the war.
Leaders will also discuss the possibility of topping up with an extra 3.5 billion euros the European Peace Facility — a fund being used to reimburse member countries that provide weapons, ammunition and military support to Ukraine.
At their two-day meeting, leaders will be joined by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres for lunch on Thursday, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address the meeting via video link.