European Union ministers are meeting on Monday to try to finalise a plan to supply Ukraine with much-needed artillery shells, replenish its own national stocks and ramp up Europe’s defence industry, as Russia continues to focus its attacks on the industrial east of the war-ravaged country.
The 27-nation bloc’s foreign and defence ministers will discuss the plan at a joint session in Brussels.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is due to provide an update of the latest developments in the year-long war and to set out his country’s military needs.
The EU’s aim is to provide Ukraine with on million 155mm artillery shells this year.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who is chairing the meeting, is seeking approval for a proposal to provide 1 billion euros (£875 million) to encourage member nations to provide artillery shells from their stocks and any orders for new rounds that they might have placed with industry.
A further 1 billion euros would then be used to fast-track new orders and encourage member countries to work together on those purchases through the European Defence Agency or in groups of at least three nations. Germany has already called for countries to join its effort.
The third track of the scheme involves support to Europe’s defence industry so it can ramp up production in the longer term. EU officials have said that new joint orders could be placed by May if the plan is endorsed.
Germany’s defence industry says it stands ready to ramp up its output, including the kinds of arms and ammunition needed by Ukraine, but that it needs clarity about what governments want before investing in further production capacity.
Ukraine became the world’s third-largest importer of arms in 2022 after Russia’s invasion triggered a big flow of military aid to Kyiv from the United States and Europe, according to Swedish think tank Sipri.
Hans Christoph Atzpodien, head of Germany’s arms manufacturing association, told the Associated Press last week: “What’s important for us as an industry is to get predictabilit.
“That means we have to be clearly told which products are needed within which time.”