EU approves joint purchase of ammunition to support Ukraine’s military efforts

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

24th March 2023 – (Brussels) The European Union has made history by approving its first-ever joint purchase of ammunition as part of its military support for Ukraine. At a recent European Council meeting in Brussels, the bloc’s 27 heads of state agreed to a two billion euro ($2.17 billion) plan to provide one million rounds of ammunition to Ukraine over the next 12 months.

The first billion euros of the plan will be used to support member states in sending ammunition to Ukraine by diverting current orders and going through their own stockpiles. The focus will be on 155mm artillery shells used in battles such as Ukraine’s defence of the town of Bakhmut. The second half of the package will be used for the purchase of new ammunition, both to be sent to Ukraine and to replenish European stocks. The tranche also includes an option for the bloc to purchase missiles for Ukraine if battlefield conditions require it.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the European leaders remotely from a train travelling back from Bakhmut. He urged allies to speed up their delivery of ammunition and tanks, while reiterating his request for the West to send modern fighter jets to Ukraine. Zelenskyy’s call for fighter jets remains unanswered, however, with Ukraine’s European allies wary of escalating tensions with Russia.

European Council President Charles Michel tweeted that “to win its freedom, Ukraine needs ammunition. The EU is delivering 1 million rounds of ammunition urgently. The EU supports Ukraine in its relentless quest for freedom. We stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.” The plan is a clear indication of how Russia’s attack on Ukraine has changed the way the EU perceives its role.

While the ammunition plan has been welcomed by Kyiv, views differ among member states on the question of fighter jet deliveries to Ukraine. Poland and Slovakia have recently delivered Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, but Kyiv’s request for modern NATO-standard jets remains broadly unanswered in Europe. Ukraine’s European allies are keen to support Ukraine wherever possible while minimising any risk of further escalation with Russia. Conversations with its allies around fighter jets will likely continue for weeks to come.