On Monday, EU ministers will consider approving a two billion euro plan to raid their stocks and collectively buy Ukraine the critical artillery ammunition that the country sorely needs.
The year-long Russian incursion has evolved into a grueling war of attrition, which Kyiv has said is forcing its forces to restrict their weapons.
Ukraine has informed the EU that it needs 350,000 shells each month to enable its army to fend off Moscow’s assault and prepare for further counteroffensives later in the year.
A multifaceted strategy aiming at accelerating deliveries and supporting their defense industry is being discussed by the 27 foreign and defense ministers of the bloc at a meeting in Brussels.
“Time is of the essence: we need to deliver more artillery ammunition and we need to deliver faster,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said.
The first part of the plan involves committing a further one billion euros ($1.06 billion) of shared funding to try to get EU states to tap their already stretched stocks for ammunition that can be sent quickly.
The second part would see the bloc use another one billion euros to order 155-millimeter shells for Ukraine as part of a massive joint procurement push intended to spur firms to ramp up production.
This is a significant new move by the EU, which has long sought to strengthen its defense cooperation in response to Russia’s conflict.
Details like who would negotiate the orders—the EU’s defense agency or the member states—and whether they should only purchase from European suppliers have been the subject of disputes between nations.
The last-minute difficulties were worked out by EU ambassadors on Sunday, and it was believed that ministers would give their assent during their talks, according to diplomats.
Estonia pushed for a specific goal that 1 million rounds will be given, having initially proposed spending 4 billion euros on shells.
Some, though, were hesitant to commit to a specific figure for fear that they wouldn’t reach it.
There are concerns about how much the EU countries can share right now without putting themselves in danger after consuming their stockpiles for a year.
“We don’t know, member state by member states, the state of their stocks but we think that there is still some ammunition” available, an EU official said.